Madurai, Tamil Nadu
Josephine, is fondly known as the ‘Queen Bee’ and ‘Florence Nightingale’ for her unique contribution in empowering women and augmenting their economic independence. What started out, as a means of supporting her husband in troubled times is today a flourishing Woman Entrepreneurship Model. She received her initial bee keeping training at Madurai’s Krishi Vigyan Kendra and now regularly imparts training and mobilises women to take up bee keeping, which was otherwise a male bastion.
Her tryst with bees started way back in 2006, and today besides being a Bee Entrepreneur she is also a Healer. Her close association and experiential learning with bees not only led to the development of therapeutic honey but also made her a sting therapist of repute, for treating High Blood Pressure and Arthritis. She is a successful woman entrepreneur and economically supports a work force of over 300 and is a role model for women across India.
An author of three books on Bee keeping and Sting therapy, she has helped 420 women set up honey bee farms and trained more than 50,000 people under the National Honey Mission. Many SHG groups have adopted her model and empowered the lives of women with secondary income in the rural hinterland of Kerala and Tamil Nadu.
Owing to Josephine Selvaraj’s consistent efforts over the years, over 20,000 women have received free training on bee-keeping and have embraced bee framing as an avenue for sustained livelihood.
Sundarbans, West Bengal
Gazi Jallaluddin, 65 year old taxi driver in Kolkata had to stop his studies due to poverty, but today runs 2 schools and an orphanage in his native Sundarbans. A victim of the rampant migration from village to cities owing to abject poverty, young Gazi had to beg for alms on the busy streets of Kolkata. At the tender age of 13, he worked as a rickshaw puller but with hard work he became a taxi driver and was able to eke out a decent living.
Having navigated his life through hardships, he nurtured a desire to help children from his native village Sundarbans who were being accustomed to the same travails.
He thus embarked on a mission to empower the downtrodden in his community through education and training that would impact their quality of life and secure their livelihoods.
This resulted in the formation of the Sundarban Driving Samiti. The unique training model not only trained youth to become able drivers but also espoused that the beneficiary of the training program in turn trains two more in their circle and thereby form a human chain of learning. The chain still continues and today, there are 300 boys from the Sundarbans driving taxis and earning their living in Kolkata. Towards the goal of providing basic education, he set up Sunderban Shikshayatan- a cooperative charity that is run by contributions from gainfully employed taxi drivers for fund raising for establishing schools for primary education of the poor and orphans in the community.
Gazi Jallaluddin’s unique initiative has impacted the lives of over 1500 families. Today his school has a strength of 425 students and 21 teachers and is growing from strength to strength, on the back of his earnings and charity from his community as well as philanthropists.
Hanspukur, West Bengal
Subhashini Mistry, is an extraordinary woman in deed. She was all of 33 when her husband died of a stomach ailment. She could not afford the treatment. Penniless and with four children to raise, she harboured a dream of building a hospital for the needy. She worked as a house maid, on farms, as a bricklayer and selling vegetables by the roadside for more than 40 years to raise Rs 300,000 to build first a basic shed then a modern concrete structure.
She faced hardships all her life, be it the early demise of her husband or the fact that she had to put two of her children in an orphanage since she could not educate them. She overcame all adversities of life, through her hard work, perseverance and brought to fruition her dream of building a Hospital for the poor and needy in memory of her departed husband, who died due to lack of medical care.
Today at 80, she is still actively involved with the hospital and her younger son Ajoy, a doctor is carrying forth her mission at the hospital.
The 100-bed hospital in Hanspukur, in the eastern Indian state of West Bengal was opened in 1993, since then it has treated more than 250,000 patients free of cost, saving countless lives.
Anup Ranjan Pandey, a theatre personality and musician from Chhattisgarh, conceptualized the Bastar Band by involving people of several tribes like Gonds, Marhias, Bisonhorn, Halba, Bhatra, Parja Murias, Dorla, Abujmarhias and Dhurva, from the heartland of India. Each of the tribes has a unique dance form, which is being preserved, protected and promoted by this connoisseur of tribal art.
The deterioration of peace and erosion in the performing art traditions were the compelling factors that incited him to work to salvage these art forms from the threat of extinction and catalyzed the foundation of Bastar Band.
Bastar Band, a music and dance band from Bastar, Chhattisgarh, aims at taking different tribal dance forms and music to the doorsteps of the urban folk. The band tours different parts of the country in an attempt to showcase the beauty of tribal dance forms of tribal people living in Bastar and also to create interest in it so that the dance form is passed on to the next generation.
Anup has been working for the cause of protecting and promoting tribal dance and music forms for over 22 years. The 125-member ensemble Bastar Band plays at least 50 ancient instruments and sings from its repertoire of 150 songs across the state and all over the country, spreading the message of love, peace, brotherhood and ecological harmony.
A budding social entrepreneur, Vikash Das is known for his innovations in democratizing rural non-farming sector & building sustainable impact enterprises. He is the founder of Vat Vrikshya, a social enterprise which aims to facilitate the development process to improve the quality of life of tribal women through participatory action and entrepreneurship so as to ensure sustainability.
Vikash is the chief change maker at Vat Vrikshya, prior to which he was working as IT Security Analyst in IBM Corp. Bangalore. He always wanted to do something that empowered the most vulnerable communities in the tribal region and bring equitable and inclusive growth. He followed his heart and founded ‘Vat Vrikshya’. This is where it all began!
His guiding tenet –is to transform the socio-economic scenario of India by nurturing entrepreneurship among women in rural India and encouraging them to be the change agents in their communities.
What started in just one village has now expanded and spans across four states of Odisha, West Bengal, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh. The enterprise provides women with vocational training, soft loans, expert advice and market linkages to help develop supplementary sources of income. The tribal women are mentored on concepts of savings and networking through leadership, marketing skills along with financial literacy. It also tracks their progress and has reached out through training and intervention programs to 17,000 marginalized women communities.
Vat Vrikshya is working with 2300 women artisans and has directly impacted the lives of thousands of villagers due to the ripple effect of broad based community development programs.
Mr. Uddhab Bharali, a farmer in Assam has the unique distinction of developing more than 85 engineering devices for different purposes in agriculture. An innovator par excellence he has to his credit over 105 innovations, with 53 registrations with National Innovation Foundation. Out of these thirteen have been commercialised.
Mr. Bharali set up a research workshop to help local communities and industries solve their technological needs in his hometown of North Lakshimpur on the banks of the river Brahmaputra. He started to design machines and devices that would help small scale farmers to increase their productivity and revenues.
Many of the innovations are popular in foreign countries too. He has been acknowledged for his unique forte and advises agencies like the Central Silk board, North Eastern Region Community Resource Management Project (NERCRMP) and other Institutions across India. He also believes in sharing his innovative experiences and has technically trained over 50 youth from rural areas, who are in turn impacting their agrarian communities.
He indigenously developed a polythene making machine at a subsidised cost of sixty seven thousand rupees, when company made machines were priced at Rs. 4 lakh. Additionally, this agrarian innovator has developed several other utility machines like the pomergranate de-seeder, garlic peeling machine, tobacco leaf cutter, paddy thresher, cane stripping machine and several other mechanised machines.
Shimla, Himachal Pradesh
Sarabjeet Singh is a Shimla based philanthropist who selflessly takes the responsibility of providing solace to both the living and the dead. At a time when even paid drivers were not keen on doing it, this Good Samaritan ferries the abandoned dead and living for free.
At first he started out by assisting the Gurudwara in organizing blood donation camps and continued doing so long after the Gurudwara stopped. He also set up a free canteen for cancer patients and their attendants at Shimla’s only cancer hospital. Other than the canteen, five Roti banks have also been started to collect fresh roti’s everyday from volunteer families who serve the community. The free canteens are a huge respite for the patients and attendants, especially the poor, who are already bogged down with the high cost of treatment.
All the blood banks in the state have his phone number and know they can rely on him in case of an emergency.
Singh has also been running a free 24X7 funeral van service to help the dead in their final journey, be it night or day. Till date, Singh has ferried more than 5,000 bodies. For the last 10 years, he has also been organizing blood donation camps and has collected more than 20,000 units of blood for Shimla’s hospital.
Murugan, who hails from Kerala, an auto driver by profession. However, he is no ordinary rickshaw driver, for he ferries the hurt, incapacitated and needy for free.
Belonging to a poor family in Chengotta district in Tamil Nadu, his parents migrated to Idukki district in Kerala in search of work. They eked out a living as plantation laborers who could not afford educating their son. Given the abject poverty, he spent his childhood doing odd chores to supplement their income and be able to give exams through the Open school system. He completed secondary level education and learned to drive and became an auto rickshaw driver.
Having lived on the streets for the better part of his growing years, he has been ferrying and rescuing the poor, sick and mentally challenged from the streets and leaving them in the care of hospitals, shelters and old age homes, since 2002. He institutionalized his public service under the NGO – Theruvoram. He also started to provide shelter, food and medicine for the orphaned street children. This self taught citizens’ noble work and acclaim soon spread, such that in 2013, Theruvoram was given the responsibility of running the social justice department’s shelter for homeless.
Over the years Murugan has been able to rescue, rehabilitate and help over 8000 children and poor. His NGO is actively working in 17 districts of Kerala to save the lives of homeless, injured and destitute street children.
Malavath Poorna (currently 16), was the youngest girl to climb Mount Everest at the tender age of 13. She hails from a small tribal village and learned mountain climbing at her school, showed immense potential got formally trained and completed the dangerous Himalayan mountaineering journey on May 25, 2014. Having achieved this feat so early in life, she is already a role model for tribal children. Hailing from Nizamabad, this poor Indian farmer’s daughter shed joyful tears at the summit after a grueling climb across difficult terrain overcoming personal fear. She reminiscences seeing dead bodies of mountaineers during her climb, the gruesome sights did not deter this young girl from scaling new heights.
The aim of her expedition was to inspire young people and students from her tribal background and encourage them to take up sporting activities and show their mettle. Since then she has represented India in various international expeditions and brought laurels for India.
Scaling Mount Everest is incredibly taxing and over 250 people have died trying to climb it. Altitude above roughly 26,000 feet is considered death zone, since there is not enough oxygen to sustain human life.
Sagar, Madhya Pradesh
Akash Chaurasia a 29 year old & resident of village Tilli, district Jalna Madhya Pradesh hails from a very small farming family. Having done his senior secondary he has invented a multi layer farming at a field of 3 Acres which he has taken on rent.
This true son of the soil, got through PMT (Medical Entrance) in his state but instead chose to follow his heart and championed the cause of safer crop yields through organic farming. His family beckoned him to pursue Medicine but he did not give in and continued on his journey of developing techniques to maximize output.
He developed a unique four layer farming technique where four different crops are sown in the same piece of land harnessing the sub soil, top soil and using climbers and creepers for variety in layering. In this technique, that has been endorsed by Krishi Vigyan Kendra, Sagar - with the same amount of fertilizer, water, labor and money, four different crops are grown. He uses organic farming techniques, by which the produce is four times more and the expenses are 4 to 5 times less. This is a crop intensive and high density cropping technique which yield maximum yields with optimum utilization of resources.
This young farmer believes in sharing his experiential learnings with the farming community at large. He has trained 32 thousand farmers from all over the country in his farm in Sagar Madhya Pradesh. He has prepared 42 agricultural models all across the country in different parts. He has given training in 19 universities on organic farming & multi layering techniques. He has been able to generate INR 10.5 lacs per acre-an incredible yield.
Sachidanand Bharati, was born in 1955 in the Uttrakhand region to a mother who was the first woman panchayat leader of the region. When he was older, Bharati became involved in the Chipko movement.
As a leader in the Chipko movement, Bharati mobilized cross-generational, non-violent environmental uprisings and groups across Uttrakhand and was instrumental in reversal of forest lands and 4.3 million hectares of land from commercial use back to agriculture and forest use land. Bharati initiated successful dialogues and nonviolent confrontations between hill communities and the government. It led to policy reversal and the retreat of state presence from indigenous, green turf.
Following the deluge in Uttrakhand in 2013, he stepped up not only his reforestation pursuits but also augmented water conservation programs. Towards this, he mobilised women from the Mahila Mangal Dals because women responded to the call for reforestation and water management intuitively and emotionally. Today, there is an active collective of more than 15,000 women in 150 villages, who are committed to savvy water management in the Himalayan region.
In an area where the recurring narrative is that of mass de-forestation, dying springs, lost rivers, landslides and associated environmental disasters his efforts have given new hope to numerous groups in the Uttarakhand terrain.
Being stirred to action, on account of the deplorable condition of women in the rural hinterland in Odisha; a group of committed and dedicated young women workers started Maa Ghara, in 2004 to work for the upliftment of womenfolk. Maaghara is on mission to strive for a society where there is respect and safety for each women. The Organization has a two pronged approach- Sensitization & Advocacy on one hand and field services on the other. The dedicated direct field service includes rescuing and rehabilitating trafficked and sexually abused victims and giving them temporary shelter, food, healthcare, legal support and various trainings for capacity building. The Organization manifests itself as a shelter which is a transit home for these victimized women until they get legal remedies and are economically secure.
The Organization has a participatory model which encourages volunteers from amongst women in the neighborhood communities of the victimized girls thereby forming Community Vigilance for corroborative action. These women groups stir into immediate action and cohesively work towards insulating the victimized from repeat adversity and endeavors to secure her rights. As part of the preventive paradigm – they reach out to vulnerable sections and sensitize them against existing social crimes, which include trafficking, child labor, domestic violence and physical abuse.
Over the last decade, the holistic efforts of the Organization have resulted in the rescue and rehabilitation of thousands of distressed women across age groups in Odisha.
Maa Ghara’s unique activation model has become a state wide people’s movement to stop atrocities on women and restore their human rights with dignity. It has 7 women helpline counseling and legal advice centres in 7 districts of Odisha. There are about 10,000 women members working as peacemakers in the remote and tribal villages across Odisha.
WE4YOU is a charitable trust, set up by 7 young minds, all of them engineers working in Odisha, Delhi, Bengaluru, who are committed to providing accessible education to visually challenged students, enhancing their skills and educating them for gainful employment. The idea struck the engineers when they volunteered to lend their voice to blind students and assisted them with the scripting of answer sheets during their 10th examinations. This gesture culminated into WE4YOU.
Formal education for the visually impaired has been a grave concern, and this unique initiative could perhaps be the answer for providing basic to formal or technical education with the help of voice books for the visually impaired in India. Their outreach model involves volunteers who lend their voices to these Audio Books.
Their interventions also include disseminating these Audio Books to their intended community of students both in schools as well as colleges. This unique intervention uses IT and IT enabled services wherein volunteers can make these audio files on their Personal Computers at their own convenience. These files are then scrutinised and pass the rigors of institutional accreditation before being acknowledged as an Audio Book.
They have been awarded by the Odisha government for Innovation in Education in the Disability sector. Their network of volunteers is growing enormously in other parts of India and is impacting the lives of thousands of visually impaired individuals across Chennai, Gurgaon and Bangalore.
While the country is home to 12 million blind students, there are only 10 Braille Press units in India, which is not enough to meet the demand. Educating the visually impaired through Audio Books is an innovative mode of intervention. Till date the organisation has converted more than 500 books into audiobooks in Odia, Hindi and English language.
GSKVM is a non-government voluntary organization, operates in Jharkhand across the districts of Latehar, Garhwa and Palamu.
The cases of tuberculosis are rising in Jharkhand, with over 34,000 new cases being reported in the state. Armed with a vision to support the government’s efforts, to curtail the disease, GSKVM implemented a TB care and Control project which was supported by WHO, in collaboration with the Revised National Tuberculosis Control Program.
The focused approach of community based case finding strategy which involved screening of the entire community in Palamu across demographics has become a role model of outreach by a NGO. They have reached out through awareness camps to a mass in excess of 10,000 in their operative geographies. The most cost-effective way to stop the spread of TB in communities with a high incidence is by curing it. TBDOTS (directly observed treatment) is the name given to the tuberculosis control strategy recommended by the World Health Organization. A unique aspect of their outreach was the hand holding and support rendered for individuals suffering from TB to complete the prescribed treatment program.
Tuberculosis, the silent killer; kills 5 lakh Indians every year, making it a big challenge for India to achieve its goal of being TB free by 2025. Through a multipronged approach of sensitization, advocacy, preventive and remedial action and adherence to treatment modules, this NGO has been able to impact 3152 individuals directly within the first year, till date 12,181 individuals have benefitted from the program.
Khamir was established in the aftermath of the Bhuj earthquake. Khamir is a not for profit promotional platform for the crafts, heritage and cultural ecology of the Kachchh region of Gujarat. The organization aims to serve as a cultural resource centre that enables artisans to conserve their traditional way of life by creating sustainable livelihoods centered on their craft.
The name stands for Kachchh Heritage, Art, Music, Information and Resources. Khamir means ‘intrinsic pride’ in Kachchhi, the local language. In Hindi it means ‘to ferment’ an equally apt name given the constant fermentation and cross pollination of artistic activities that play out within the organization as well as in the Kachchh region at large.
This joint initiative of Kachchh Nav Nirman Abhiyan and the Nehru Foundation for Development, was incepted in 2015. Today, Khamir strives to create a democratic and empowering space - a common roof under which a range of stakeholders can exchange ideas and collaborate. It serves as a platform for the promotion of traditional handicrafts and allied cultural practices, the processes involved in their creation, and the preservation of culture, community and local environments.
Khamir is committed to the vision of a vibrant, sustainable Indian craft sector in which crafts and artisans alike are highly valued by people worldwide. At present they are working with 150 craft units in Kachchh region impacting the lives of about 3000 artisans.
Roing, Arunachal Pradesh
ALOMBRO MAYU YAKU CHI AMEY AROGA commonly known as AMYAA NGO stands for social transformation. The service of AMYAA working in targeted rural areas of Eastern Region of Arunachal Pradesh has been basically to redefine the lives of the poor by facilitating sustainable livelihood opportunities. Strengthening the grassroots groups (NaRMGs, SHGs, and Farmer’s Clubs) through frequent capacity building and training has been the primary focus of AMYAA. The Organization encourages inclusivity and believes in enabling the community members to be responsible for their own development through active participation at all levels of the developmental process.
The Organization is headed by Mr. R K Paul and has been credited to have formed the first All Women Cooperative in Arunachal Pradesh.
In the district of Lower Dibang Valley, AAMYA has promoted a District level federation The federation comprises of 48 SHGs from 20 Villages and was set up with a vision to act as catalyst for viable socio-economic development of the region. The federation has already set up a SHG rural mart for marketing of local handloom and handicrafts products. AMYAA has promoted 20 farmer’s clubs to be organized into Producers Organization for systematic marketing of the agri-horticulture products.
HMIC, has the unique distinction of founding the first Roti Bank of its kind in Maharashtra. This bank is situated on the busy Jinsi-Baijipura Road in the heart of the Aurangabad city. The idea behind the bank was to ask people from well-to-do families to spare and deposit home cooked rotis with vegetarian or non-vegetarian food, which would then be ferried to demarcated areas, from where the poor, unemployed and needy could withdraw it respectfully without resorting to begging.
The organization initially mobilized 100 donors to provide food security for the under privileged through this unique initiative.
As word of the bank spread, membership at the centre shot up and now HMIC boasts of 350 members and about 200 donor deposits are recorded daily. To open an account at the roti bank, the donor has to fill up a form and obtain a code number. The details of the depositor are stored under this number. The bank operates between 11 am and 9 pm and maintains strict hygiene and tagging of the food and consumables.
Drawing strength from the success of the Roti Bank, HMIC has launched a Kapda bank on the same lines.
This bank only deals in freshly cooked food items and today feeds over 800 people daily, while duly maintaining strict quality control and hygiene standards.
Astha is an organization that aims in creating and providing opportunities for interaction between the “able” and the “differently able” worlds. This unique approach enables the participation of both these worlds and enhances the quality of life of the targeted beneficiaries.
Mr. Sunil Jain, himself being wheel chair bound is the Founder Trustee and Chief Enabler of Astha. A Chartered Accountant by profession, he mentors and guides para-athletes to reach excellence in their chosen Sports and achieve success. Inkeeping with the agenda, Indian Wheelchair Tennis Tour (IWTT), a division of ASTHA is working towards the single minded objective of advocating the participation of an Indian contingent in this Para Olympic Sport in the next 3-5 years.
India with a population of 200+ lakh differently-abled people got just 12 medals in the Para Olympics. There has been no concerted effort to develop competitive wheelchair tennis in India. ASTHA has successfully conducted India’s first AITA ranked wheelchair tennis tournament wherein 34 players participated. In the second series, this number will grow to 46, since 12 more individuals have been trained.
Krishiyog, a unique initiative, under Advaita Organics - provides end-toend support to small and marginal farmers to make their farming profitable and sustainable. These unique interventions across Andhra Pradesh include access to institutional credit, input procurement, crop management, agri-extension services and marketing support. It is currently working with farmer groups to deliver the services to its members. Also they are working on a model where the farmer group can engage local resources to deliver services, thereby providing employment opportunities and augments rural develeopment.
Advaita Organics works towards creating a more efficient and sustainable agricultural supply chain that increases farmer incomes. They solve problems using technology, and make agriculture more sustainable, even as they make organically grown, pesticide-free agricultural produce, an inherent part of the daily urban lifestyle through easy access.
The cumulative impact of these interventions in drought prone and challenging environments where farmer suicides are common occurrences is noteworthy. The tangible impact is reflected by a 4% reduction in interest rates for farmers, a 10% improvement in yield and Improvement in Net savings per crop for a farmer with 2 acre farm is approximately Rs 12,450.
Building upon the cultural heritage of worshiping Surya - the Sun God as the ultimate source of energy and celebrating the very experience of life through a large gathering in Kumbh, For past six years, Simplified Technologies for Life has been passionately working to ignite young minds through experience driven transformation. They have designed a unique festival called SuryaKumbh which is internationally acknowledged as the World’s Largest Solar Festival, SuryaKumbh has reached over 120,000 school children from a small tribal hamlet of Jawahar to ultramodern city of Dubai. The uniqueness of SuryaKumbh lies in the way it creates a flavourful fusion of science and festival that positively impacts everyone involved across age groups to harness solar energy in everyday lives.
Simplified Technologies for Life was established in 2011 with a vision of taking solar energy to every home in India, given the abundance of sunlight in India. The idea was to use solar cooking as an entry point and empower the users with an experience that would inspire them to lead a more sustainable life.
While SuryaKumbh is designed to introduce a family to the power and possibilities of solar cooking through a child, the real beneficiaries are rural women who will escape the drudgery of collecting wood, be less exposed to harmful emissions and effectively harness the free energy of the Sun efficaciously.
Based in Bangalore, 37 year old Shalini, lost all her four limbs owing to a rare bacterial infection. Back in 2013, she had just returned from vacation in Cambodia when she suddenly fell ill. What started off as a fever quickly developed into something far more serious and Shalini, who was also pregnant at the time, was suddenly on the brink of death and dealing with multiple organ failures.
Doctors diagnosing the illness in Bengaluru, however, thought it was dengue. They could not have been more wrong. In the course of the next few months, she had a miscarriage, both legs and her left hand amputated, following which her right hand just “fell off.”
Having gone through the rigours of mainstream medicincal procedures, she finally turned to Ayurveda, that helped her in the healing process. And not before long she regained her physical and mental strength, with her husband Prashanth Chowdappa by her side.
Inspite & despite all adversities, she fought back with an indomitable spirit and today is a role model for not just the differently abled but to the entire humankind.
JSPL Foundation salutes the indomitable spirit of Shalini Saraswathi, a Quadruple Amputee, who has overcome adversities and is a source of inspiration to us all.
Today she is a writer, motivational speaker and a sports enthusiast. This trained Bharatnatyam dancer is an avid blade runner and even runs marathons. She is a true beacon of hope, endurance and epitomizes the indomitable spirit.