VP confers Jamnalal Bajaj Awards on 4 prominent Gandhians
Mumbai : Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu on Thursday gave away the 41st Jamnalal Bajaj Awards to four prominent Gandhians in the field of humanitarian and social work.
The winners for 2018 are Dhoom Singh Negi of Uttarakhand, Rupal Desai and Rajendra Desai of Gujarat, Prasanna Bhandari of Rajasthan and Clayborne Carson, Founding Director of The Martin Luther King Jr. Research and Education Institute in the US.
The annual awards, presented by the Jamnalal Bajaj Foundation (JBF), commemorates the birth anniversary of the late industrialist Jamnalal Bajaj and recognizes achievers in the fields of Gandhian and humanitarian programmes with a citation, trophy and a prize amount of Rs 10 lakh in each category.
Present on the occasion were Maharashtra Governor C.V. Rao, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, Jamnalal Bajaj Foundation Chairman Rahul Bajaj, JBF Council of Advisors Chairman Justice C.S. Dharmadhikari (retired) and other dignitaries.
A former teacher, Negi -- also revered as 'guruji' in Uttarakhand -- has led many constructive agitations for environment protection including the Chipko Movement and taken part in the Gram Swaraj of Gandhiji-Vinoba Bhave.
He also participated in Gandhiji's Sarvodaya Movement, opposed illegal systems, unfair practices and injustice, and conducted massive afforestation drives to conserve the sensitive Himalayan regions.
Former US corporate executives -- Rupal Desai, an architect, and her husband Rajendra Desai, an engineer -- returned to India in 1984 and plunged into social service, utilizing their technical knowledge for the betterment of the rural communities.
Following Gandhian philosophy of self-sustenance, they deployed modern technology for rural housing and spent six years in Latur in Maharashtra after the 1993 earthquake to focus on building local capacity and ensuring future earthquake risk reductions.
They trained over 1,500 artisans and others, saved more than 750 traditional masonry buildings during the earthquake by retrofitting.
The Convenor of Shri Karni Nagar Vikas Samiti (Kota), Bhandari worked for the cause of abandoned infants, destitutes, distressed women and girls and helpless aged citizens.
Shishugriha, an infant-care nursery founded by her in 1977, has helped legal adoption of 900 discarded children. Balgriha and Balikagriha for older children have benefited around 3,000 boys and 200 girls who have been married and integrated into social mainstream.
Inspired by Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Carson launched a movement to teach Gandhian and King philosophies in 2008, participated in student movements and joined Martin Luther King during his historic 1963 march to Washington DC.
In 1985, Martin Luther King Jr's widow Coretta Scott King invited Carson to direct a project to edit and publish a comprehensive edition of her husband's speeches, correspondence, publications and unpublished works.
The JBF also announced opening of nominations for the 2019 awards.