Over a century ago on 2 October, India witnessed the birth of a man who would go down in history as one of the greatest humanitarians.
He was Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, fondly known later as Bapu or Mahatma for his visionary work in social reform.
His teachings went on to inspire generations across the world. While Desmond Tutu continued Gandhi’s legacy of non-violent protest in South Africa, former American president Barack Obama drew inspiration from Bapu’s actions to build a better nation.
Today, on the occasion of his birth anniversary, we take a look at the progeny of his home country that has continued to pave the road of peaceful progress.
Here are the stories of eight Indians who are building the nation based on Gandhian values:
Popatrao Pawar became the Sarpanch (village head) of Maharashtra’s Hiware Bazar in 1989. Since then, the place has transformed into a village with the highest Gross Domestic Product in India.
Popatrao set up a rainwater harvesting system in the drought-prone village and came up with five policies to optimise the potential of its populace. These included a ban on liquor consumption, family planning models, and environmental reforms.
Last year, he was awarded the prestigious Padma Shri for his exceptional contribution to society.
Read the story of Popatrao Pawar’s achievements here.
2.Parmita Sarma & Mazin Mukhtar
In Pamohi, Assam, Parmita and Mazin are running a school for underprivileged children. This school imparts education free of cost, but also works to make the community of the village conscious about the use of plastic.
They have 110 students who collect plastic from their neighbourhood each week and deposit it as “tuition fee”. Through this initiative, the couple has not only helped recycle the non-biodegradable resource, but also provided institutional support to children who would have otherwise lost their childhood in the murk of stone quarries.
Read the full article here to know more about how this creative school works.
3.Gangadhar & Venkateswari Katnam
Since 2010, this Hyderabad couple has been using their money to fill the potholes of the city.
Initially, when Gangadhar started the voluntary work alongside his job, it went unnoticed by civilians and the government alike. But eventually, his good efforts were noticed and two years later, the GHMC (Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation) started funding the material for the renovation. Till date, the couple spends their own pension for all other expenses involved in the project.
Their actions spring out of sheer determination to better their city, and stand as a true example of the change a person’s action can steer.
Read their full story here.
Dipesh Tank runs an initiative called ‘War Against Railway Rowdies’ along with nine friends in response to an injustice witnessed by many, but resolved by none.
Starting in 2013, the group began recording instances of sexual harassment against women on the local trains of Mumbai. They would report these cases to the local police and also post them on social media to raise awareness. Within six months, they were able to get 40 constables stationed at each station.
Understand the full impact of Dipesh’s resolved actions by reading this article.
Manual scavenging was banned in India in 1993. But Wilson, hailing from the Dalit community, knew that the dehumanising occupation was still very much in practice years later.
In ‘95, he set up the Safai Karmchari Andolan (SKA) to support people in switching to dignified labour. This iconic activist’s work has since saved lakhs of manual scavengers from the discriminatory work. “I will make sure that not a single person in the country has to do a job like this,” he had told The Better India.
He continues on the journey to uplift those in the lowest rungs of Indian society today, and this is his story.
Prabha came to Garhwal village of Palasat after being married into a family of farmers. Life was arduous as a mountain person, but whatever free time she got, she chose to devote to the land as well.
To counter the deforestation caused by construction companies, Prabha would plant trees in the barren areas of her village. She went about her work in solitude, and ended up planting orchards of fruit trees along with shrubs, vines and coniferous trees all across the land.
The full-fledged forest has created resources of food, fodder and firewood for the entire community.
This is what the septuagenarian had to say about her inspiration.
“I cannot be everywhere but will try my best to help as many as I can,” he had said.
On the bustling streets of Delhi runs an auto rickshaw ambulance offering medical assistance. Its driver, Harjinder Singh, works to transport the injured and diseased to the nearest hospitals free of cost.
His vehicle is stocked with medicines and equipment, which he buys from his earnings from regular customers.
To know more about the noble deeds of this common man, read this article.
In 1994, animal activist Shiranee Pereira started People for Animals in Chennai, a home that went on to save thousands of animals from abuse and murder.
Today, her rehabilitation home houses hundreds of dogs, cats, cattle, horses and other animals. Each of them is taken care of by a team of volunteers and the founder herself.
This humane approach towards furry creatures has been complemented by a driven fight for their rights on a larger scale.
As a part of a government body for animal welfare, Shiranee influenced the passing of two guidelines in favour of better treatment of animals. Read this article to find out what they were.
Edited by Divya Sethu