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On May 22, 2010, one of India’s worst aviation disasters took place. with 166 people on board, 158 were killed and only 8 survived.
The official inquiry into the crash revealed that the pilot of the Boeing 737-800 had been asleep and was “disorientated” when he attempted to land the plane.
Due to the pilot's unprofessional demeanor with the civil authorities being aware, Yeshwant Shenoy decided to stand against this corruptive setup and fight against it. Ever since he has been single-handedly making India’s airports and aviation industry safer for its citizens.
A dream energy resource named ‘LOCUS’ Localised Operation of Bio-Cells Using Sewage was made headed by Manoj K. Mandelia and a team of five at the IIT-Kharagpur. The product uses a single chambered microbial fuel cell, which can not only treat waste water but also produce electricity in the process. It is unique in the domains of environmental, economic and social sustainability. LOCUS is currently a lab-scale model at IIT Kharagpur, but once ready for commercial use it has the potential to solve the most pertinent problems — water and electricity.
Every week, Dr V Soundarrajan, the head of a primary health centre in the village of Thanjavur district, harvests about 20 kilos of vegetables from the kitchen garden of the health centre, to feed 50 pregnant women who visit it for check-ups. He has been providing nutritious lunch for the pregnant women as an effort to bring down anaemia in pregnant women and infant mortality rate. By the help of sponsors he is able to help provide lunch on a daily basis to women in need.
The physician has also started constructing a children’s park on the hospital premises. Considering these efforts, the health centre has got an ISO certification.
Headmaster, Chandan Kumar Maiti of Krishnachandrapur High School situated in the district of West Bengal, a district that tops the national list in child and human trafficking. This headmaster not only assists his students in every way he can but also helps save lives. Young, hapless girls are married off, to older men in Haryana, Punjab, Delhi and Jammu & Kashmir.
Maiti not only takes the girls under his wing to educate and shield them but also waives off and sometimes pays for their admissions and tuition fees. He stands up to the husband and in-laws of the district for his students and gets the appropriate authorities involved to get his students their justice. With tremendous risk to himself, and to the children involved, the dutiful headmaster goes beyond just books, to help students.
Vivek Arora has combined his passion for cycling with a social cause to generate funds for children with special needs at Tapan Rehabilitation Society, Nilokheri. Vivek (25), who embarked on his 4,000-km long cycling tour from Kashmir to Kanyakumari on February 28, reached Kanyakumari on March 31st. Vivek cycled up to 120 km per day and met cyclist groups and communities along the way.
“I wanted to do something for the children living there, so I decided to tour the country from Kashmir to Kanyakumari,” he said. Vivek has done MBA from IIM, Calcutta, has set a goal of raising Rs 2 lakh for these children.
Rajendra Singh and his organization, the Tarun Bharat Sangh, have dedicated themselves totally to rural development with environment care and protection for the last 21 years.
In 1984, he left his job and dedicated himself to rural development. He formed the Tarun Bharat Sangh (TBS) and, together with four of his companions, began organizing villagers for the repair and deepening of old rainwater storage tanks.
To fulfil the needs of the villagers, Rajendra Singh started rural development and employment generation activities in 1985 in Gopalpura village through water conservation. He played a catalyzing role in the building of 8600 rainwater storage tanks in 1058 villages spread over 6500 sq km in nine districts of Rajasthan.
A specially-abled sportsman Jitendra 26, a resident of a remote village in Lalitpur, does not let hold himself back from achieving what he isn’t capable of despite the lack of government support. Jitendra is India’s first disabled basketball player from such a remote area.
Jitendra spend his average Sunday leaving his hometown in Uttar Pradesh to hit the court and practice wheelchair basketball and comes back home to a living room lined with trophies he has earned. He began playing, he was selected for a national team and travelled to Delhi for his first championship, and continued on to play in other tournaments from then on
He is determined to create a name for himself in the sport, irrespective of the government’s role in providing the support required to make the path more accessible.
Colin Gonsalves is the dedicated to serving India relentlessly by voicing issues of the poor, destitute and those less fortunate. The Indian human rights lawyer has been awarded the 2017 Right to Livelihood Award.
Through his brave endeavors and innovative use of public interest litigation, he has always held India’s government to account.
Rajesh Naik is the man who transformed 120 acres of barren land into a self-sufficient organic farm by developing a 50 feet lake on two acres of the land. Naik was determined to convert the fallow land into something useful. In spite of criticism from family members and friends he did not give up and continued to work on the land. Today, the lake generates 40,000 litres of water which irrigates the whole land. The farm is now one of the largest organic farms in the area and produces various fruits and vegetables like mangoes, haldi, pepper, bananas, cashew nuts, etc.
Shirish Apte has successfully rejuvenated a traditional water system in Maharashtra. Caught in between the landlords and the state government, the Malguzari tanks were left to die many years ago. Shirish Apte decided to change the situation and, since 2008, he has been successfully rejuvenating these tanks. His efforts and hard work have made the district administration restore 21 more such tanks. This project has helped many local people get employment, the irrigation output has increased in the area, the farmers have reduced the use of fertilizers in the farms and, above all, you now get to witness a great sight as many animals come and quench their thirst at these tanks
He started his career as a cook but soon realized his love for cook stoves and innovations. His DEEP Chulha helps users to improve fuel efficiency by as much as 50%. Apart from creating DEEP Chulha amazing stove that is helping the rural community at large, Sharma is also working with the elderly people in his area by running around 34 elders’ Self-Help Groups
When ordinary people bring about change, we cannot afford to miss out on this man. Jadav Peyang is the one who single-handedly converted a washed out land into a 1,360 acre forest. He started planting bamboo saplings when he was 16 years old. Today he is 47 and lives in his own forest, which is now also home to Bengal tigers, Indian rhinoceros, over 100 deer and rabbits, besides apes and several varieties of birds, including a large number of vultures.
On a hot sunny day in June 2003, Ebix Inc’s CEO, Robin Raina, walked up to the roof of his 5-floor office building in Noida, India. Once there, his eyes fixated on the squalid slums, choked drains, and abject poverty all around him, standing in stark contrast to the sky-rises. That day, Robin Raina decided to turn his life around and work for the poorest of the poor. He set up the Robin Raina Foundation in 2003. And in just five years, the foundation has adopted over 3,500 underprivileged children, is running multiple schools across the country, an orphan home in Mumbai, medical ambulances in Delhi, a cancer hospital ward in Pakistan and is building over 6000 concrete homes free of cost for the slum dwellers of Bawana in Delhi!. Out of a total of 6000 homes, the foundation has finished building and allocating over 2304 homes already.
Ravi Katapady, a daily-wage labourer who collects money for underprivileged children in need of corrective surgery in the temple town of Udupi. This he does by painting his body and donning different ‘Vesha’ during the grand celebration of Sri Krishna Janmashtami every year in the temple town. While his effort deserves applause of its own, his costumes are worthy of praise in themselves. From Lizardman of The Amazing Spiderman to characters from Mummy Returns, Ravi went on to raise almost ₹8 lakhs in total, for eight different children suffering from varying ailments in 2015 and 2016, with people willing to donate from Mumbai and as far as Dubai. Initially supported by a person, his team of helpers slowly grew to 15 and subsequently became 65 in three years. The selflessness that Ravi displays is beyond appreciation. For those whom he has given a new lease of life, he is nothing less of a god, and for others, he is the local superhero.
Girisha was attempting to fix an electric plug but was instantly electrocuted. He lost sensation in both the hands, and it further resulted in the loss of hand function. The doctors had to amputate his right hand, and Girisha had to stay away from school for almost eight months. Within a few weeks of amputation of his right hand, Girisha had to undergo nine reconstructive surgeries on his left hand to bring the bones and nerves back into the regular functioning and help them recuperate. But by the time he appeared for his Class 11 exams, he was able to write with his left hand. In 2010, he took up a job with Railways, with an aim to crack the Civil Services. He succeeded in the second attempt and became an officer in the Andhra Pradesh cadre of the Indian Administrative Service. Our dreams begin to end the day we surrender ourselves to fate, become faint-hearted and lose hope. PS Girisha’s story offers an unblinking view of his commitment and determination, which certainly helped him transcend his disability
Born into a poverty-struck family, Manikandan’s mother used to roll incense sticks to support the family and his father is a carpenter. Unfortunately, poverty was not to be the only obstacle he would have to face. He fell victim to polio as a young boy in school. But he didn’t it stop from his pursuing his passion — rock climbing. Although Manikandan’s parents knew that he liked rock climbing, they were shocked and angry when he told them that he wanted to become a professional climber. But the determined young boy persevered, following an exhaustive regime for 10 years to become a better climber. And better he did become. In 2012, Manikandan won a gold medal in the IFSC Paraclimbing World Championship, held in the Bercy stadium in Paris. There was no looking back for him after that. Today, he is India’s only para-climbing world champion and has won 11 international medals. He is now eyeing a medal at Tokyo 2020.
His love for cars started when he was just a young boy of 10. Even a terrible car accident in 2012, which paralyzed him from the chest down, did not deter the now 29-year-old Eric Paul. His latest record in the Limca book of records was for driving across the breadth of India – from Arunachal Pradesh’s Tezu to Gujarat’s Koteshwar. This was part of his campaign ‘Accessible India’, to make the nation a more accessible place for Divyangs (persons with disability). His first ever expedition, in November 2015, was to undertake the Golden Quadrilateral road task of the Limca Book, where he drove to five metropolitan cities. Starting his trip from Delhi, he drove to Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai and Kolkata and all the way back to the national capital. Including night rests, he managed to complete his 6,000 km trip in less than seven days to set the record in his hatchback! Later, in June 2016, Eric embarked on his second expedition. From Leh to Kanyakumari. He considers that one his most challenging journey so far. Despite several hardships due to severe weather conditions, he successfully covered 3,917 km in a record time six days, 15 hours. His latest record in the Limca book of records was for driving across the breadth of India – from Arunachal Pradesh’s Tezu to Gujarat’s Koteshwar. This was part of his campaign ‘Accessible India’, to make the nation a more accessible place for Divyangs (persons with disability).
In a heart-warming story coming out of Odisha, Jalandhar Nayak, a 45-year-old tribal man from the village of Gumsahi in Kandhamal district, worked in grueling eight-hour shifts every day for two years to single-handedly construct an 8-km-long stretch of road through hillocks to Phulbani town. He plans to extend it by another 7 km in the next three years. What prompted Nayak to undertake this herculean task? As someone who never enjoyed access to education, the man wants to ensure that his three sons are not deprived of the same. To reach their school in Phulbani town, however, children had to cross these hillocks, which was both time-consuming and difficult. Nayak sells vegetables for a living, but the sight of his children undertaking that arduous journey pushed him to the extreme effort. In response to his children needs, he picked up the hammer and chisel and went to work on constructing a shorter route between his village and the town. Fortunately, the local district administration took notice of his efforts after local Odia publications reported his herculean feat. “Nayak’s effort and determination to cut mountains to build a road left me spellbound. He will be paid under the MGNREGS scheme for all the days he has worked,” said district collector Brundha D.
This story celebrates the life of Major Prateek Mishra – who lost his life in 2005. It is the story of his undying commitment to the nation, it is also the story of a friendship that endured long after. Major Prateek Mishra who served in the armed forces, was commissioned into the 7 Dogra Regiment. On 8 October 2005 parts of India and Pakistan were left devastated by a high-intensity earthquake. At that time, Major Prateek was posted in Uri and He was the commander of the post when the earthquake hit during which a concrete structure collapsed on him as he was getting out.” One of Major’s closest friends was his boyhood companion, Vijay. Having grown up together, both boys dreamt of joining the armed forces together. While Major Prateek cleared the examinations, Vijay was unable to. In the excitement of their youth, they made a promise to each other – if something were to happen to any of them, the other would ensure that the parents were taken care of. After Major’s death, Vijay not only honored that promise but continues to do so to this day. Vijay moved into my parents’ house 13 years ago and continued to live with them. Today he is married and has children of his own, but he still lives with them.
In 2008, Dolwani, an M-tech from BITS-Pilani, decided to quit a career that spanned the IT and BPO sectors to set up his own company B2R (Business to Rural). It always troubled Dolwani when he saw the youth questioning why they needed to educate themselves when they had no opportunity to use the education. By September 2009, Dolwani and co-founder R. Venkatesh Iyer had started the first center in Orakhan, Uttarakhand, with 20-odd employees. The company got its funding in February 2010 and growth post this was rapid. In two years, B2R had four centers doing back-end work for clients spread as far as the United States and employing close to 150 people. At a typical Centre of B2R, young women and men work together in close proximity, sitting next to each other and chatting freely— something that is alien to the culture of the region. Local women aged 22-25 started working for the first time and became important earning members of the family. The fringe benefits of B2R’s journey is what gladdens the hearts of its promoters. All these youngsters who would otherwise have headed to cities are earning and contributing to their own environment.
Harsh is a multidisciplinary visual artist from Pune, and an alumnus of Industrial Design Centre (IDC), IIT Bombay where he studied Applied Art and Visual Communication. Harsh’s foray into the field began with graphic novels, of which the first one was published in the US and had received international acclaim and several accolades in 2007. Besides, he has also essayed the role of an art director for various animation and gaming projects. In 2012, he organized a gathering in Pune that brought together artists from across the country to bring colors and meaning to the otherwise drab public spaces in the city, and this collaboration went on to become the Pune Street Art project. Every mural work that he has done is a reflection of the space and its people. Most of his works are hugely inspired by Indian mythology and spiritual sciences One has to visit the premises to behold the magnanimous mural stretching over 320x7m. Laced with metaphors throughout, one can find episodes from the history of the city that have been ichnographically laid out.
India achieved its highest ever medal tally at a World Para Athletics Championship in the 2017 edition of the event in London with five medals—one gold, two silver and two bronze medals. The proudest moment, however, was when para-athlete Sundar Singh Gurjar, an Indian Paralympic Javelin thrower, shot putter and discus thrower won the gold medal in the men’s javelin throw F-46 event, beating the best in the world by a considerable distance with an effort of 60.86m. The throw marked a personal best for the Indian.
Pune zilla parishad's (ZP) freshly appointed chief executive officer (CEO) Suraj Mandhare would rather trade garlands for books. Barely a week into office, he shot off a circular to all the heads of departments (HoDs) on Tuesday, insisting that they should not accept any garland or flower bouquet from citizens during their official tours or at their respective offices. If the people indeed wanted to show their gratitude towards the visiting officers, Mandhare suggested they gift those books instead. “The flower bouquet is nothing but a waste of money; they are also costly. People give it just to show gratitude. We do not want to hurt the sentiments of the citizens who gift bouquets, but replacing them with books would convey a stronger and more positive message. The change in tradition will also help in increasing reading habits among officers, which has become rare now.’ Mandhare has also issued circulars addressing all the HoDs (Head of Departments) insisting they do not accept flowers or garlands from citizens either or their official tours or in the office. He believes that if people genuinely want to show their gratitude to the government officers, books would be a more suitable gift. Mandhare has appealed to citizens to erase the notion that government officials must be felicitated for doing their duties.
Ashok Sangle quit studies after Class 10, because of weak eyesight. To make ends meet, he decided to set up a small electronics shop. However, he also realized that he wanted to continue playing the flute. He worked it into his schedule and began to practice for at least 7 hours on a daily basis. The strenuous work hours didn’t bother Ashok because that was something he wanted to do.’ In 1990, he underwent a cataract operation, and in 1994, he refused to give up and eventually went on to perform at the local level. Apart from the flute, Ashok also plays the mouth organ player, and when he was in his 20s, Dilroop Swami taught him how to play the Sitar. Ashok can even sketch—some of his sketches date back to 1960s. While his journey has had several disastrous moments and transitions, Ashok never gave up. “I will play the flute forever and encourage everyone to do what they feel strongly about because nothing fuels the spirit like the passion” advises Ashok
Desai, a former marine engineer and a management professor, had spent the better half of September that year (2010) trying to convince his colleagues to not disown him for what they called an 'outrageous' idea.
Sharad Patel, a farmer’s son from Mirzapur in the Hardoi district of Uttar Pradesh, was supposed to acquire a degree and settle for a well-paying job to support his family. However, he took a different path and decided to help thousands of homeless people who are forced to beg on the streets of Lucknow. In 2014 Sharad filed an RTI application with the Government of Uttar Pradesh to understand its efforts for the welfare of beggars. He chose areas in the city that had a dense population of beggars, but building trust and establishing a rapport with the community was tough. Sharad began with ration cards, which entitle poor people to buy wheat, rice, sugar, and kerosene oil at subsidised rates from government shops. He negotiated with the authorities who agreed to make ration cards for hundreds of beggars even though they had no address proof, which is otherwise mandatory. The move infused a sense of belief in the beggars, and the community started approaching Sharad for their cards. He also managed to help 400 beggars to take possession of government houses under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojna scheme. Sharad is now interacting with the local municipal corporation for the identity cards of these beggars, which will help them in getting Adhaar Cards. Sharad has submitted a charter of demands to the government, which specifically asks for a proper shelter home for at least 200 beggars in Lucknow. Under his guidance, 22 beggars have stopped begging and have started working. That’s some way of turning things around!
Sunil Sharma's incredible story has its origins in the scenic mountainous regions of Himachal Pradesh. The earliest memory of a race Sunil has is one from school, in which he ran a kilometer or two for which the prize for the race was Rs 2. In 2012, Sunil started his ongoing affair with long-distance running. While Sunil was pursuing his Master’s Degree at the Punjab University in Chandigarh, he and a few friends ran an NGO, which provided blood free of cost to the needy. Apart from donating blood, the NGO also took care of treatment expenses of poor patients. Sunil wanted to prove that one can donate blood without any fears, even if one ran 40-50 kilometers a day. Combining his passion for running with his drive to help others, Sunil began to conceptualise events that centered on socially relevant causes. Sunil started a Facebook page, titled "Run 4 Social Cause". With this idea, Sunil has since organised and participated in several notable runs. The big dream, Sunil says, it to start running in China, carry on to India and end in Pakistan. Sunil also wishes to run from Gangotri to Kolkata, along the banks of the Ganges, in an attempt to save the rivers. But above all, he hopes his example motivates people to donate blood regularly to save more lives.
Better care for India’s growing elderly population has become a serious concern for policymakers. The country’s poor record in taking care of its elders (defined as anyone above the age of 60) is reflected in Global Age Watch Index, published by Help Age International, a global NGO dedicated to the welfare of old people. Vedaant Aggarwal, the son of a Delhi-based entrepreneur and primary school teacher, and a class XII student in Modern School, Vasant Vihar, offers a solution. Already a CEO at the age of 17, he is heading a start-up called Our Health Mitr (OHM) Healthcare Services - an innovative healthcare solutions provider that uses a high-tech, high-touch approach to in-home healthcare services. As per his profile, it offers proactive healthcare for family, especially elderly & family of people working away; routine and emergency medical care services from trusted, highly-trained professionals; routine health checks; high-tech tracking of all health records and vitals; diligent and transparent record-keeping of all health checks, medical history, as a ready reckoner; 24×7 medical emergency services; and importantly, an emotional connect with family, especially lonely elders through its dedicated Health Mitrs and its one-of-a-kind social network. His plan is to pursue a degree in the United States from a reputed business school. What about his start-up? “I am currently building the app interface for OHM,” he says.
24 years old musician TA Kiran gave his first Carnatic music performance in Thrissur in Kerala recently. The concert was special because Kiran is blind and has cerebral palsy. Encouraged by his mother, Kiran graduated in music by writing exams with the help of scribes. In carnatic music, one has to coordinate using the hand along with singing, which is quite difficult for those with cerebral palsy. But Kiran did not give up. Since he was also blind, he learned by heart his song lessons, which helped him to improve his memory and ability to recreate. Kiran is looking forward to get a Ph.D in music and a government job.
For the nomadic community of Narikuravars in Tamil Nadu, the only mode of livelihood comes from selling beads on streets or worse, begging. However, one young boy’s perseverance in making the world a better place for his community has not just earned him the tag of being the flag bearer of the Narikuravars, but also the nomination for this year’s International Peace Prize for Children. Life had something else in store for the 12-year-old named Sakthi Ramesh. In 2014, when the opportunity came knocking in the form of an intervention by a non-profit organisation, little did Sakthi know that soon he would end up playing a catalytic role towards the betterment of his community. Hand in Hand India, which works towards eradicating poverty through education, job creation and integrated community development, has a dedicated programme under its wing where dropouts and child labourers are identified and motivated enough to continue their education through residential special training centres (RSTC). . Sakthi soon realised that only with education, would there be an end to their community’s adverse living conditions. Motivated by the visible change in Sakthi’s visage and mannerism, many parents began to acknowledge the importance of education and wanted their children to have the same benefits and privileges too.
Born and brought up in Hyderabad, George Rakesh Babu started the nonprofit Good Samaritans India. Registered as a formal trust in March 2011 with his co-founders Sunita George and Yesukala, the Good Samaritans is a very small group of medically trained persons who provide basic care, and run a small free pharmacy. They have catered to over 300+ abandoned, old, sick or dying unclaimed people left on the roads, without charging them a penny. While most people who become well are reunited with their families, some stay behind to help run the home. From learning to dress wounds to changing diapers of the bedridden elderly and cooking meals, they do it all.
The number of articles praising Asra Garg was quite high. It is not very often that we come across such police officers who go beyond their call of duty and help people. Asra is an IPS officer of the 2004 batch and was initially posted at Tirupatthur as Assistant Superintendent of Police. Many of those who hail from rural areas borrow money from local moneylenders, who in turn end up charging a very high-interest rate. Banks are wary of giving loans to those who belong to the unorganised sector. These people, unfortunately, become the target of the unrelenting moneylenders. To attack this problem, Asra and his able team put together an elaborate plan. While most members of the police service wait for a complaint to be made before taking action, in this case, the police were extremely vigilant and proactive. Asra has over the last decade earned an excellent reputation and is also known as a police officer who is exceptionally pro-constitution. He is now serving at the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
Rehan Merchant, 51, has been working at Mumbai's Carter Road area for the past five years removing the litter from the mangroves and cleaning up the slushy, rock strewn patch of land next to it that could one day become a beach Toiling as a one-man army against garbage that is choking Mumbai’s mangrove forests, 51-year-old Rehan Merchant, a Bandra resident, has cleared more than 15 tonnes of litter in 90 days. He cleared a 100-foot-wide pool of sewage by creating a channel that allowed the high tide water to wash away muck. He unclogged a decade-old sewage pipe so that plastic would not get stuck to mangrove branches. Inspired by Merchant’s efforts, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) sent 10 clean-up marshals to assist him. In two weeks, the BMC workers have helped him remove more than five tonnes of trash.
Rajendra Bharud is a young 2013 graduate IAS officer from Dhule, Maharashtra, India. In his initial years of service, he is putting great efforts for promoting education for the better development of young minds as well as the society. He is posted in Dhule in Maharashtra and focuses on better education for the children of his area. He wants to promote the importance of education among the village people. His aim is to take his village and its residents on a path to development. He visits children at Anganwadi centers to keep regular checks and help in whatever way he can. People like Bharud are a true inspiration for one and all and gives us lessons of courage and never giving up.
Palagummi Sainath is an Indian journalist and photojournalist who focuses on social & economic inequality, rural affairs, poverty and the aftermath of globalization in India. Amartya Sen has called him "one of the world's great experts on famine and hunger". Since late 2011, he has been working on People's Archive of Rural India (PARI) for which he is the Founding Editor. Sainath devotes himself to the cause of alleviating the distress of millions of rural farmers, tenants, sharecroppers and craftsmen who have gradually been sidelined from the tenets of policy making. “Rarely has an individual journalist gone so determinedly against the current of entrenched official orthodoxy, bureaucratic apathy, and intellectual smugness.” says P Sainath.
This Varanasi-based man is eliminating dowry, casteism, child marriage and much more in an interesting way. Having a strong dedication to educate the girls of the community and spare them from early marriages, he started a personal training center where girls learn various life skills like sticking. Nandlal started a group wedding programme in 2007 where he got 13 couples married at one place. He raised funds through his community and asked the guests to give gifts which can be beneficial for the newly-wed couple. The impact of his work is evident through the tremendous change Benaras has seen. Child labour has gone down by a great extent and the number of child marriages have reduced too. Girls have started working and benefits of MNREGA scheme i.e. Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act are now being utilised by women, who constitute 35 per cent of labour force. In the future, Nandlal wants to engage the more privileged communities in his initiative and inspire them to organise weddings across different castes in a simpler way.
You might have read about a lot of people serving humans and helping them to live a better life. But today, here’s a story of a man who doesn’t only serves the living, but the dead too. Sarabjeet Singh, a philanthropist based out of Shimla is a blessing in disguise. At a time when even the paid drivers fail to transport the dead bodies for the final rituals, this selfless man comes forward and volunteer for the service. Mr. Sarabjeet Singh ensures that nobody dies due to the shortage of blood in the hospitals of Shimla. He even started a free canteen that offers tea and biscuits and evening meal of Daal-Chawal to the patients and attendants visiting Indira Gandhi Medical College in Shimla. In 2016, his NGO- Almighty Blessings started another free canteen at Shimla’s Largest Hospital -Kamla Nehru Hospital. Other than this, he has extended his social service by initiating the concept of ‘Chapatti Banks’ in his town. At the age of 40s when people are busy making money and saving for retirement, this man is busy serving the needy. He also uses social media platforms to encourage people to join his initiative!
1994 saw 12-year-old Pradeep John witnessed for the first time a cyclone making landfall, as heavy rains accompanied by strong winds at speeds of over 100 kmph lashed Chennai causing widespread damage to the city. As years passed, his passion kept growing and he began to track the rainfall in different places and also started to blog on the subject. Pradeep, now 34, became a social media celebrity through his accurate weather forecasts on his Facebook page ‘Tamil Nadu Weatherman’ during the December 2015 Chennai floods and December 2016 Vardah Cyclone. Rumours of another spell of heavy rain were doing the rounds in Chennai and people were in a state of panic. Local media reported that several residents moved out of the city anticipating the worst. Some astrologers and even international broadcaster BBC warned of an imminent flood. But Pradeep made no such prediction, and many of his followers were reassured. When he was finally proved right, his stocks went up among the Chennai public. People consult him these days before fixing the date for functions in open auditoriums to avoid rainy days or while making outstation travel plans.
An entrepreneur’s happiest moment is when he is loved by his clients and customers. And no one has experienced it better than Mayi Gowda. Ask any bibliophile in Bangalore where to buy second hand books and they will direct you to Blossoms bookstore on Church Street! Known for his hospitality, Mayi Gowda lets you read books in his bookstore and even brings you coffee. Starting on a pavement to make ends meet with just 1500 books 12 years ago, today Mayi has his store in one of the most sought after locations in the costliest city of India and an enviable collection of over 2,00,000 books which also makes him the largest second hand bookseller in the country. The warehouse-like ambience is somewhat at odds with the coziness regulars associate with the original but it also means displays are better and one can actually find space to sit in the store and read.
Scavengers of India - those who clean and dispose of human excreta, the most degrading and inhumane of occupations, whose lives are decided by the chance of their birth, often seen on roads carrying buckets on their heads, these people remain absent from our conscience. Wilson fights for the dignity and respect of thousands of manual scavengers in India, dignity, and respect which has eluded all their generations for ages. His first encounter with manual scavengers and their degrading occupation was in the Kolar Gold Fields in Tamil Nadu, which was filled with dry latrines for the mine workers, which, his parents and caste brethren used to clean every day. He then petitioned the mine management at Kolar to stop using dry latrines and providing jobs to those working as manual scavengers, which went grossly unnoticed. Undeterred, he sent proofs and evidence of the use of dry latrines, first to the mine management and then to newspapers, which was an embarrassment for the state government of the time. Today, a recipient of the prestigious Ramon Magsaysay Award, Wilson has a life of 32 years of social activism behind him. He has vowed to make India free of manual scavenging. A battle yet to be won by him, but he is relentless and hasn’t given up!
Cleanliness is next to godliness. What would be a better way than keeping one’s surroundings clean and sanitized? Nangjop Dhabah, a 24 year old resident from Shillong has taken matter into his own hands and started a mission #NoLitterShillong. A firm believer in the proverb – “Charity begins at home,” this thought prompted him to take the initiative. On the contrary, Shillong is known to be one of the cleanest cities in India, but he feels that it is important to prick the bubble that Shillong is a clean city. Ideally, I want more and more people to come forward and join this cause. I have started a hashtag with the name #AdoptANeighbourhood, where each can adopt an area and work for the betterment of that place,” he says. Since his initiative is still in the nascent stage, Nangjop has a lot to work on.
There are many who cannot afford an ambulance service due to. A small town garage owner from Hyderabad, Mohammed Shahzore Khan, could not digest these news reports and wanted to do something about the same. As they say, charity begins at home, he took matter in his own hands and made a two wheeler ambulance. This ambulance comes with an oxygen cylinder and a stretcher. A blue light on top and a first-aid kit under the seat are the complete facilities. It took him 35 days and more than one lakh rupees to build the ambulance. He aims to make these ambulances available to the rural sections of the society.
In this today’s day and age where education plays a vital role in a child’s development, this 18 year old has struck the right cord. When he is not studying, Aryan Pudota is teaching people how to grow organic vegetables. Inspired by his mother in the kitchen, this class 12 student made his own YouTube channel called ‘My Organic Farm.’ Arya’s journey begun when his mother purchased 4000 sq. ft. of land beside their house to start her own kitchen garden when he was 11 years old. She chose to breed the land for cultivation of unadulterated vegetables rather than selling it off for profit. He has closely worked with the forest state departments of Karnataka and Telangana. In 2015, Arya played a significant role at the United Nation Environment Program.
Arunachalam Muruganantham is a social entrepreneur from Coimbatore. He is the inventor of a low-cost sanitary pad making machine and has innovated grass-roots mechanisms for generating awareness about traditional unhygienic practices around menstruation in rural India. Discovering that his wife still used rags during her periods because the ones available in the market were expensive, Muruganantham set out to work on the napkins himself. The TIME magazine has named him one of the 100 most Influential people of 2014. He was also awarded Padma Shri by the Government of India in 2016. In popular culture, he has inspired a documentary based on him titled ‘Menstrual Man (2013) and also an upcoming film ‘Pad Man’. The work of Arunachalam Muruganantham is commendable and inspiring and gives hope to a country where the women die because of lack of basic hygiene.
Sagar Sodah, a visually-impaired programmer based in Mumbai, is trying to help women report sexual abuse. Sodah has only 10% vision, but that has never stopped him from achieving his goals. The chatbot that he designed for Safecity, a program that simulates structured conversations over Facebook Messenger is accessible on mobile phones. Most women don’t talk about it because of the stigma that surrounds the society. He feels that the chatbot is an effective outreach as it not only helps the women to speak up, but to also report cases that might go unnoticed. Keep marching on, Sagar!
Rifath Shaarook, an 18 year old along with five other students designed a satellite which weighs just 64 grams and is selected in “Cubes in Space” contest organized by Idoodle Learning in association with NASA. The satellite is made of reinforced carbon fibre with 3-D printing technology. It took more than two-years for Shaarook and his team to design the less weight satellite using the 3-D printing technology at a cost of just ₹1 lakh. Shaarook, who lost his father at a very young age, got the zeal from him to become a scientist. Shaarook nicknamed his design KalamSat, after Abdul Kalam, India’s former president and famed rocket scientist.
Raghav Baldwa, a 24 year old native from Indore, MP for the longest time has been using sustainable farming techniques and employing debt-ridden farmers to help them pay off their loans and safeguard their livelihoods. He had watched his father donate blood since his childhood and he followed the suit at the age of 17. Back in his home town of Indore, he noticed that a lot of people were finding it extremely difficult to find blood donors in cases of emergencies. He put up a pamphlets in five government hospitals, three private hospitals, and a few medical stores, asking people seeking blood donors to contact him.
After pursuing a degree in architecture from National Institute of Technology, Calicut, 25 year old Nishan Nazer had a simple question – why do most architects choose not to work in rural India? After being selected for fellowship, he chose to work in the housing sector and joined the NGO Gram Vikas. He was sent to Rudhapadhar village located in Gajapati district of Odisha to check how he could help the tribal community. He was shocked to see the state of the government school in the village. Children walked kilometers through the forest to comee to school just to have midday meals. They had no benches, desks, or even teachers. When Nishan filed an RTI query, he came to know that 45,000 schools in the state lacked basic infrastructure. Though Nishan knew that the solution was as easy as providing infrastructure, the next challenge was availability of space. So he came up with the idea of multi-utility furniture and named it SURFACE. He manufactured over 30-40 SURFACE pieces and had them distributed to schools run by Gram Vikas. The response was priceless as the kids treated it as their priced possession.
We always question our teachings in school and when will we ever put this to use. But here’s a 17 year old who has implemented his learnings and how! Siddharth, a resident from Delhi was taken aback when he was 12 years old because of the Nirbhaya incident. Feeling restless, Mandala created a device called the ElectroShoe. He used social media platforms like Linkedin to connect with mentors and develop this prototype. The more the user walks, the more energy is generated and stored in a rechargeable battery. "All a woman needs to do is ensure that the battery is sufficiently charged. When the shoe makes contact with an attacker's body, the attacker will be electrocuted," said the whiz kid. The Education Minister and Deputy Chief Minister of Telangana, Kadivam Srihari awarded him with a letter of appreciation for his valiant effort. Mandala's invention could not have come at a better time!
We often tend to make donations in order to help people in distress. But have you ever wondered, how long does this donations and help last? While others are spending time in finding a solution to this, Nand Kishore Chaudhary formed Jaipur Rugs in the year 1978. Besides the idea of business, his concept of promoting growth in mass level was one of the features of his foundation. Kishore included all the tribal women and the unemployed and under-privileged people from the villages of India. Initially he started off with the ‘chamars’ considered as untouchables in Rajasthan.