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Nobel Peace Laureate Kailash Satyarthi honors 37th Jamnalal Bajaj Foundation Awardees

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Mumbai (Nov. 29, 2014): The Jamnalal Bajaj Foundation honored awardees for 2014 on the occasion of 37th Jamnalal Bajaj Awards. The four awardees were felicitated by the venerable Nobel Peace Laureate and Children Rights Activist, Mr. Kailash Satyarthi in the presence of Mr. Rahul Bajaj Chairman, Board of Trustees and Justice C.S Dharmadhikari (Retd.), Chairman, Council of Advisors of the Foundation.

This year the Foundation commemorates the 125th Birth Anniversary of Shri Jamnalal Bajaj. As a tribute to this special occasion the Foundation has increased the prize amount from  Rs. 5,00,000/- to Rs. 10,00,000/- in each category, with effect from the Awards to be presented for 2014. It continues to serve the ideals to which Shri Jamnalal Bajaj had dedicated his life and promotes the kind of Gandhian constructive activities, in which he himself was deeply involved during the lifetime. 

The awards were presented in the following categories:

Award Category

Awardee Name and Designation

Award for outstanding contribution in the field of Constructive Work

Shri Surendra Koulagi (Founder) of Janapada Seva Trust, Karnataka

Award for Application of Science &
Technology for Rural Development

Shri Ram Kumar Singh (Managing Trustee and Director) of Suruchi Shikshan Vasahat Trust, Gujarat

Award for Development and Welfare of  Women and Children (Instituted in memory of Smt. Jankidevi Bajaj)

Smt. Chennupati Vidya (Founder President) of Vasavya Mahila Mandali, Andhra Pradesh

International Award for Promoting Gandhian
Values Outside India

Shri Sulak Sivaraksa (Founder) of International Network of Engaged Buddhists, Thailand

Mr. Rahul Bajaj, Chairman, Board of Trustees, Jamnalal Bajaj Foundation speaking at the occasion said, “The Jamnalal Bajaj Foundation Awards was established in an effort to recognize and commemorate those courageous and committed individuals who have unfailingly dedicated their lives in upholding the noble ethos and philosophy of Gandhian values. It is a momentous and honorable event for us to be graced by the presence of esteemed Noble Peace Laureate and Children Rights Activist – Mr. Kailash Satyarthi to commemorate the chosen recipients who have displayed exemplary efforts in bettering the lives of the communities and incorporating Gandhian values. True change comes with collective upliftment in emotional, social and economic standards of individuals and society. Our winners are a true inspiration with their relentless devotion to embodying the Gandhian principles steadfastly”.

Being the daughter of Shri Gora and Smt. Saraswathi Gora, who were social reformers, all their lives since the freedom movement, Smt. Chennupati Vidya had a streak of social work since her childhood. Her two- years stay in Gandhiji’s Sevagram, when she was just 13, only strengthened her resolve to be a social activist for women empowerment, gender equality, and village development. She chose her native Vijayawada as the place for the developmental work following Gandhian principles.

In 1969, she founded the NGO - Vasavya Mahila Mandali (VMM). The foundation of the organization is based on attainment of holistic social, economic and political development of women and children, especially in vulnerable situations. Smt. Chennupati Vidya symbolizes the advent of women into the field of women empowerment and child rights in 1960s, a decade when it was too early to predict such interventionist drives from the educated young women. She devoted her energy and time to VMM and saw life in complete coherence by bringing in credibility to rural community living.

Shri Surendra Koulagi is a staunch follower of Mahatma Gandhi, Vinoba Bhave and Jayaprakash Narayan. Shri. Koulagi is the founder of Janapada Seva Trust - a voluntary social service organization established in 1960. Inspired by the Gandhian ideal of sarvodaya, the Trust has been striving for social and economic elevation of the weaker section of society. Shri Koulagi involved the village community in khadi production and marketing through its units. The organization has organized weavers, especially women in Melkote who also produce natural dyed khadi fabric and garments. Shri Koulagi’s novel initiative - `Hosa Jeevana Dari’, which means `Road to New Life’, is a center to experiment and experience non-violent living alternatives. It has been developed on twenty five acres barren piece of land, which is now a biodiversity heaven. Organic farming principles, conservation of native flora and fauna, water conservation are all part of the center. A Gandhian to the core, Shri Koulagi's simplicity, clarity of vision, compassion, altruistic lifestyle; inspires one and all, especially the youth.

Shri Ram Kumar Singh has worked extensively in training the rural youth in various rural technologies. This gave him the opportunity to develop an understanding about rural youth and their mind set along with an idea to work for the development of appropriate technologies. In 1999, Shri Singh joined ‘Suruchi Shikshan Vasahat Trust’ (SSVT) in Bardoli, Surat. Though, initially SSVT focused on campus-based activities, Shri. Singh's vision and decision to involve the community both in development and use of technologies proved more impactful for the rural community. Within a short period his passion and dedication brought about a transformational change in the Vasahat as well as local community of more than fifty villages in and around Bardoli in terms of rural industrialization.

Mr. Sulak Sivaraksa is one of the founders of the International Network of Engaged Buddhists (INEB), which was established in 1989 with leading Buddhists. He is also the initiator of a number of social, humanitarian, ecological and spiritual movements. Mr. Sivaraksa has also combined intellectual work with continual grass-roots organizing.  He has founded rural development projects as well as many non-governmental organizations dedicated to exploring alternative models of sustainable, traditionally rooted, ethically and spiritually driven development. He visited rural villages, temples, and the terraced rice fields to understand the actual conditions of the people - the farmers and workers. For the last 35 years, Mr. Sivaraksa has travelled all over the world lecturing, writing, mentoring, and participating in inter-religious dialogues. He has published his own and others’ books and articles, with more than hundred books written by him in Thai and English languages.