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These Brilliant, Award-Winning Heroes Used Science & Tech to Change Lives in Rural India

Here are some brilliant heroes who have won the awards in this category in the past three years:


This article has been sponsored by the Jamnalal Bajaj Foundation


Mahatma Gandhi’s ideologies of rural development run through the veins of many changemakers whose work has been and will be celebrated by the 41-year-old Jamnalal Bajaj Awards.

This year, like every single one before it, will see a set of real-life heroes receive much-deserved awards and recognition for dedicating their lives towards a cause for the larger good.

Established in 1978 by the Jamnalal Bajaj Foundation (JBF), the Jamnalal Bajaj Awards are one of the longest-standing awards in India. They are meant to recognise the unsung heroes who have inspired many across the world, to acknowledge the selfless efforts of individuals who have made a difference to society, and to promote community service and social development through the lens of Gandhian values. In a span of 41 years, the Jamnalal Bajaj Foundation has gained respect as a Gandhian establishment working for the socio-economic development of the country.

It was established in the memory of Jamnalal Bajaj, a close associate and the adopted fifth son of Mahatma Gandhi.

In line with the basic Gandhian philosophy which believes that India’s future lies in its villages, this award recognises the contribution of individuals or groups, in the application of science and technology for rural and tribal development.

These contributions are to be aimed at transforming the economic, social and ecological situations of the weaker sections of society.

Dr. Jst. C. S. Dharmadhikari (Retd.), a Gandhian thinker, Trustee and Chairman of the Council of Advisors of the Foundation shares, `In the field of science, the accepted formula is S+G, that is Science and Gandhi. Establishing an exploitation-free, non-violent society is the real basis of Gandhian thought. Saluting those who are carrying on in their respective fields and are working according to this thought is the spirit behind these awards by Jamnalal Bajaj Foundation.’

Here are some brilliant heroes who have won the awards in this category in the past three years:

1. In 2018, the award was given to Rupal and Rajendra Desai:

Abandoning their comfortable lives in the corporate world of the US, Rupal and Rajendra returned to India to work towards uplifting rural areas. An architect and a structural engineer, respectively, Rupal and Rajendra began with enriching their understanding about the socio-technical side of rural housing and sanitation, and its relationship with local economy and livelihood in line with Gandhian economics of Gram Swaraj.

From voluntary work in earthquake-stricken Latur, Maharashtra, in 1993, to the setting up of the National Centre for Peoples’ Action in Disaster Preparedness in 2000, for capacity-building of communities in disaster risk-reduction through the application of science and technology in rural housing, the couple has mapped out substantial and sustainable work over the years.


2. A group of post-graduates from the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), who set up Jan Swasthya Sahyog, were among the awardees in 2017.

These health professionals wanted to change the health-related situation in a region characterised by extreme poverty with no access to the most basic care. So, in 1999, they established their work in the eastern part of Madhya Pradesh, in Bilaspur district (now Chhattisgarh), which predominantly had a tribal and backward community.

There, they were dedicated to developing an effective, low-cost, high quality, community-based healthcare system, which would be readily accessible to the rural poor. It would become a model for the delivery of care in low-resource settings, and in 1999, began operations in Ganiyari village.

3. In 2016, the same award was conferred to Bon Behari Vishnu Nimbkar for his pioneering work in the field of animal husbandry and agriculture over the past five decades.

His efforts had been instrumental in increasing crop and animal productivity and he took these benefits directly to farmers and animal rearers. To continue the legacy of substantial work, he set up the Nimbkar Agricultural Research Institute (NARI) in 1968. The main objective of the organisation continues to be the platform that allows the use of science and technology to solve rural problems and contribute to constructive policy development.

Every year, the JBF presents these awards in four categories–Award for Outstanding Contribution in the Field of Constructive Work; Award for Application of Science and Technology for Rural Development; Award for Outstanding Contribution to Development and Welfare of Women and Children; and International Award for Promoting Gandhian Values Outside India.

Calls for recommendations for the nomination for 2019 award ceremony are already underway. The nominations can also be made online on the website: http://www.jamnalalbajajawards.org

The last date for sending in the nominations for the 2019 award ceremony is January 19 for the three national awards and February 28 for the international award.

Find more details here. Read more about the Award for Outstanding Contribution in the Field of Constructive Work here.

(Edited by Shruti Singhal)

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