Come October 11, India’s civil society will have one more reason to cheer: Civil Society, a New Delhi-based magazine, will honour five individuals for their efforts to make India a inclusive nation. The award — Civil Society Hall of Fame — is different because no one can apply for it or be nominated. “You have to be identified because of the work you do,” says Umesh Anand, publisher, Civil Society. “We want to promote non-official ways of recognising achievers.
There is no emotionalism in this — it is not a tear-jerker,” Anand adds. The award does not focus on NGOs or activists only; the winners could be doctors, lawyers, entrepreneurs, teachers, innovative farmers. The winners are people whose causes are part of their lives and whose dreams are rooted in the realities.
Dr Evita Fernandez
She heads the Fernandez Hospital in Hyderabad. It was started by her parents in 1948 as a two-bed facility and today it has 225 beds. The hospital provides quality service to women from all strata of society and contrib-utes to public health. HIV+ mothers are treated free and those who can pay subsidise those who can’t. "The award has overwhelmed me. I am grateful to the powers that be for endorsing what we stand for,"
she told Sunday HT.
Dr Chiranjeeb Kakoty
His North East Society for the Promo-tion of Youth and Masses started working on HIV/AIDS issues in 1991, even before the Assam AIDS Control Society was set up. He has been behind projects on child and reproductive health though he himself is a post-graduate in geriatric medicine and hospital management. He has worked with drug users and truckers and has a keen interest in new ways of intervening with vulnerable groups.
She has been fighting for women’s rights for over 30 years. A Dalit from the Regar caste, she is the sarpanch and presides over a village dominated by 400 upper caste Jat families in Harmada in Rajasthan's Kishangarh. In 1981, Bai organised 300 women and filed a PIL in the Supreme Court over the low wages being paid to them for drought relief work. In a historic judgment, the court ruled that no worker could be paid less than the minimum wage.
Boya P Rajanna
The barefoot veterinarian is only one the people of Golla village in Andhra Pradesh’s Anantapur district turn to when their animals are sick even though the village has a government veterinary facility. Rajanna treats a range of animal illnesses with herbs. Since transport is not always available, he spends 200 days a year on the road, mostly walking, to ensure livestock stay fit. The most touching aspect of his work is that he never charges for his services.
He is the hero of the people of Ratnauli village in Bihar’s Muzaffarpur district. Thanks to his campaign against corruption in the MNREGA, the villagers of Ratnauli now get 100 days of work and are also paid regularly. He challenged entre-nched interests and rallied people to demand accountability from village-level officials. “I have now taken up the cause of two more blocks in the district and many people have joined me,” he told Sunday HT.