Mumbai, December, 2021.

The 43rdannual Jamnalal Bajaj Awards 2021, organized by the Jamnalal Bajaj Foundation, was held today, where four individuals were felicitated and honoured for their humanitarian work. Theseawards presented on or around the birth anniversary of Shri Jamnalal Bajaj recognises the exemplary efforts of people in the field of humanitarian and social work following Gandhian ideologies. The four awardees were felicitated in the presence of the Chief Guest Nobel Peace Laureate Shri Kailash Satyarthi, Founder of Kailash Satyarthi Children’s Foundation, Shri Rahul Bajaj, Chairman and Board of Trustees of Jamnalal Bajaj Foundation, Dr. R. A. Mashelkar, Chairman, Council of Advisors of the Foundation, Chairpersons of the Selection Committees, Members of the Council of Advisor of the Foundation, and the august gathering.

Since the institution of these awards, the Foundation commemorates the birth anniversary of Shri Jamnalal Bajaj every year. As a tribute to the great man on this special occasion, the Foundation felicitated achievers in the field of developmental activities and Gandhian constructive programmes by presenting them with a citation, a trophy and a prize amount of INR 10,00,000/- in each category. The Foundation continues to serve the ideals to which Shri Jamnalalji was dedicatedly been involved during his lifetime.

The details of the awards for this year (2021) are:

Award CategoryAwardee Name and TitleState / Country
Award for outstanding contribution in the field of Constructive WorkShri Dharampal SainiChhattisgarh
Award for Application of Science & Technology for Rural DevelopmentDr. Lal SinghHimachal Pradesh
Award for Development and Welfare of Women and Children (Instituted in memory of Smt. Jankidevi Bajaj)Sister Lucy KurienMaharashtra
International Award for Promoting Gandhian Values Outside IndiaMr. David H AlbertUnited States of America

Shri Rahul Bajaj, Chairman, Board of Trustees, Jamnalal Bajaj Foundation addressing at the occasion said, “We congratulate all the winners as they have contributed to the society with their exemplary work.It is very important to recognize these individuals and honour their efforts, so that more people get inspired by their unflinching selflessness. The winners have each contributed a lot in their own way to the propagation of the Gandhian principles and it is exactly this that Shri Jamnalalji desired. The Foundation is proud and privileged to recognize such people who have touchedso many lives and transformed them emotionally, economically and socially.”

About the 2021 Winners

Shri Dharampal Saini

Recipient of the Award for Outstanding Contribution in the field of Constructive Work – 2021

A courageous and humble worker, Dharampal Saini was immersed into the ideas and philosophy of Mahatma Gandhi, Vinoba Bhave and Swami Vivekananda from an early age. He has been an activist for education, development and against untouchability. A great believer in Gandhian principles, he has supported the holistic development of the youth, fair price in markets and forest produce.

Following is a brief description of activities undertaken by him:

  • Sainiji developed Rupa Kheda village without any government assistance. He started education among women through the discussion of development, shramdan.
  • From Rupa Kheda to Machla and from there Harijan Sevak Sangh in Indore became the area of life and work of Sainiji. As an activist for the prevention of untouchability and organizer of the state’s Drug Ban Committee, he was involved in the rallies/padyatra, camps, conferences as well as in writing and organizing them independently.
  • During the period from 1962 to 1970 Saini was engaged in constructive work. Then, Sainiji got an opportunity to work as the principal of Panchayati Raj Training School. He also got opportunity to get trained as a Shanti Sena volunteer (peacekeeping force) under the guidance of Narayanbhai Desai at Jayprakash Narayan’s village Sokhdevara Ashram.
  • From 1970 to 1974, as the official convenor of Bhil Sevak Sangh in the tribal districts of Madhya Pradesh, Sainiji developed the new generation with new ideas and original values by the light of education from Ashram schools.
  • In 1976, he established Mata Rukhmani Sewa Sansthan with Bastar district as its centre. Today 2500 boys and girls living in about 600 villages study in 37 ashrams whose thoughts, conduct, ability, quality and employment provide an economic and social development.
  • In the Haat Bazaar of Bastar, Saini has also made significant and successful efforts to reduce malpractice and to support fair price of forest produce. He supported the Tamarind Movement of Bastar and contributed to its economic development.
  • The Sansthan also actively participated in the ‘Indravati Bacho’ movement and contributed in effective ways for organizing it with the support of 65 local communities.
  • With regards to the Maoist issues prevailing in the region, Dharampal Saini strongly believes that it can be resolved by educational development in Bastar, public infrastructure development, healthcare, agriculture and forest produce businesses thus leading to propagation of peace and brotherhood following Gandhian ideologies..

Dr. Lal Singh
Recipient of the Award for Application of Science and Technology for Rural Development – 2021

A Botanist by education Dr. Lal Singh took a tough decision to work in the voluntary sector to make meaningful use of his scientific knowledge and training so as to help in improving the socio-economic conditions of people living in the remote mountainous areas of Himachal Pradesh through Himalayan Research Group. He is of a firm belief that capacity building of local communities, especially of the women folk in mountains for energy, health, food and nutrition and livelihood through modern science and technology is the only way to achieve self-reliance and see the rural areas developing as was the dream of the Father of the Nation.

Following is a brief description of activities undertaken by him:

  • He established the Himalayan Research Group (HRG) the 1997, one of the core groups of the Department of Science &Technology, (Government of India) since 2005 and supported by other national and international agencies.
  • He helped conserve the Himalayan tree Taxus wallichiana (Commonly known as Yew) due to large-scale harvesting of leaves for a chemotherapy drug. He developed a simple and cost effective “rooting of cutting technique” for mass propagation of the tree.
  • In order to strengthen the livelihoods, biodiversity conservation, climate change resilience and overall development of communities in rural difficult areas of mountain topography, he helped develop a basket of technology models for the community. Dr. Lal Singh made simple, cost effective and easy to follow techniques for adoption. 
  • His community-oriented, environment-friendly technology model of clean solar energy, vermicomposting, high value medicinal plants cultivation of two species Swertia cordata (Chirayita) and Picrorhizakurrooa (Kutki), button mushroom cultivation and revival of native crops earned high returns to the community which sustained these activities for the last two decades.
  • Dr. Singh refined and upscaled the facilities for developing community seed bank to conserve native crops and develop community farm products premium line along with Ayush Pharmacy for furnished high value primary healthcare products.
  • His HRG technology-based initiatives directly involves men and women groups organized in 750-900 households, annually with average direct benefits of about Rs. 40-45 lakh/annum through described science & technology activities.
  • HRG is able to reach to more than 18000 households across states of Himachal Pradesh (HP), Uttarakhand, Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh for demonstration of different need based technology models. Activities in Himachal are in 309 villages of 6 districts, 12 villages in Kargil district of Ladakh, 2 villages of Dehradun in Uttarakhand, and 2 villages in Bomdila districts in Arunachal Pradesh.
  • His efforts were recognized by the state of HP for developing the Mountain Solar Water Heating System (Solar Hamam) in 2018. The system was validated by National Solar Energy Institute (NISE) for efficiency in 2020. Till now more than 1200 mountain solar water heating systems stand installed in HP, Ladakh and Uttarakhand.
  • Dr. Lal Singh also worked in hardcore research work related to diseases of forests, climate change mitigation, fungal biotechnology, bio-prospecting over these years in collaboration with national and international institutes and individuals.

Sister Lucy Kurien
Recipient of the Award for Development and Welfare of Women and Children – 2021

Sister Lucy Kurien is committed to co-creating a better India by establishing Maher homes for women and outreach programs in every Indian state and to collaborating with leaders who feel called to create spaces “where society’s vulnerable can rise to new life.” Being a true Gandhian follower Sr. Lucy believes “Be the change you want see in the world.

Following is a brief description of activities undertaken by her:

  • In 1997, Sister Kurien founded Maher, which means “Mother’s Home”, to provide a safe haven for battered and destitute women in one small home near the village VadhuBudruk near Bhima Koregaon on Ahmednagar highway.
  • Her tireless efforts and the work of the dedicated staff led to the expansion of Maher activities to nearby areas. These include the villages in Shirur, Haveli and Khed talukas as also the city of Ratnagiri, Miraj & Satara in Maharashtra.
  • Beyond Maharashtra, Maher has established homes in Kerala, Jharkhand, Kolkata, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. In 2011, unable to ignore the plight of abandoned men on the streets, Maher opened its first home for destitute, aged and mentally challenged men.
  • Today Maher reaches the life of the poorest of the poor through as many as 24 different outreach projects including 624 village self-help groups and 58 interfaith, caste-free homes that currently shelter 984 children and 142 men and over 572 destitute women in the Indian states of Maharashtra, Kerala, Kolkata, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Jharkhand. 
  • Since its founding, Maher has provided care and shelter to more than 5000 children and 5900 women. It started the Swavlamban project – Self Help Groups (SHGs) in the villages. The project consists of generating and sustaining SHGs in the village of Maharashtra and Jharkhand.  At present Maher is having 652 SHGs and are reaching out to 10,608 beneficiaries.
  • Sister Kurien established Maher as an interfaith organization which seeks the help and blessing of all religions and faiths in its work for the weak and poor around.  In 2017, she founded the Interfaith Association for Service to Humanity and Nature (IASHN). 
  • Her love for the environment prompted her to start awareness drives on tree planting.

Mr. David H. Albert

Recipient of the International Award for Promoting Gandhian Values Outside India – 2021

Born in New York city, Mr. David H. Albert gave up a promising academic career to become a student of Gandhi. And was mentored by the Gandhian and Quaker activist George Willoughby. He has worked on land reform efforts and the upliftment of Dalit families in India. He funded a publishing house in USA to propagate Gandhian ideals globally and has since worked towards education and public health.

Following is a brief description of activities undertaken by him:

  • He worked for 40 years on land reform efforts in Tamil Nadu, providing land for more than 15,000 Dalit families, community-based education, nonviolence training and the power of story under the guidance of eminent personalities of the Gandhian fraternity.
  • Back in Philadelphia, he served as media relations director of the Fellowhip Commission, America’s oldest and largest human rights/human relations agency, at a time when race relations were particularly fraught.
  • In 1980, David Albert founded New Society Publishers, soon to become the largest and most important publishing house dedicated to Gandhian nonviolence in North America. (www.newsociety.com).
  • Over the years, Albert wrote and edited more than 15 books, on nonviolence theory and practice, homeschooling and community-based education, and public health, including two volumes called The Healing Heart on the use of storytelling in public health efforts.
  • His book People Power: Applying Nonviolence Theory brought together pointers in how to make practical use of the theory of nonviolence in social and political conflict situations. It was translated into dozens of languages. One translation, into Tagalog, was utilized by Catholic nuns who ended up blocking tanks with their bodies during the overthrow of the Marcos’ dictatorship in the Philippines.
  • Albert propagated naitalim and community-based education, and the constructive program leading to gram swaraj. He lectured across North America on progressive, community approaches to homeschooling.
  • David Albert co-founded Friendly Water for the World, working with extremely poor and dispossessed communities in sub–Saharan Africa and India.
  • Communities Albert has worked with include widows; people with HIV; refugees; former child soldiers; survivors of wartime rape and sexual assault; tribal communities and Dalits; people with albinism; unemployed youth; orphans and survivors of genocide; differently abled people.
  • Friendly Water for the World currently trains people in seven core technologies for implementation by communities themselves at the community level: rainwater catchment systems; interlocking stabilized-soil brickmaking; rocket stoves, BioSand Water Filters; MicroFlush toilets, Permagardens, and soapmaking.
  • There have been Friendly Water projects and programs in Kenya, India, Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Burundi, Zambia, Afghanistan, Mexico, Bolivia, Congo-DRC, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.
  • In 2014, Albert cofounded the Friends Ugandan Safe Transport Fund (FUST) which has rescued 2,711 lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBTQ) individuals in Uganda who were facing lynching, beatings, homes being burned out, dismissal from all employment, and complete repudiation by their families.
  • David Albert is also on the board of the Congo Integration Network, delivering assistance, counseling, and services to Congolese refugees and immigrants in the Seattle area, and on the board of advisors of Congo Threads, providing safe housing and community for war orphans in eastern Congo-DRC.
  • He also works closely with the Rape Hurts Foundation in Jinja, Uganda, which provides rescue, safe housing, counseling, economic support, and employment training for women and children who have been raped, sexually assaulted, or battered.