Here Are Seven Unsung Heroes Of India You Didn’t Know About
India is rich in cultural heritage and diversity. What makes India so unique is the spirit of the millions of Indians living through difficult circumstances that have often repeated themselves in the nation’s history, and showing exemplary resilience along their way. These are the people who make world a space where hope and faith still thrive.
Dr.Bindeshwar Pathak – The brain behind Sulabh International
BeforeSwachh Bharat Abhiyanappeared on the priority list of the Indian government, a visionary sociologist, started the movement for sanitation while protecting the dignity of manual scavengers. Every Indian has seen SulabhShauchalaya (and perhaps also used it at some point), but not many know the story of the man behind the sanitation giant – Dr.Bindeshwar Pathak. Sulabh International is more than just a ‘toilet chain’, it is a social service organization, combining technical innovation with humanitarian principles.
He has made innovative use of biogas creation by linking Sulabh toilets to fermentation plants he himself had designed. This system, apart from creating odor-free-biogas, releases clean water rich in phosphorus for manufacturing of organic manure, freeing the scavenger community of the horrendous task of collecting and carrying human waste manually.
Dr.Ravindra and SmitaKolhe – The couple who transformed a poor region into a suicide free zone for farmers
Dr Ravindra and Dr.SmitaKolhe’s story has been one of devotion, dedication and countless selfless sacrifices he made to serve the people of Melghat, a tribal area in Maharashtra, and one of the most impoverished regions in the country. Melghat is often in the news for all the wrong reasons, from farmers suicides to deaths from malnutrition.
Despite all odds, they stood, worked, and played a vital role in making Melghat, an area with one of the highest Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) a better haven for children to live in and prosper into productive adults. The couple not only provided healthcare to tribals but also worked towards the all round development of the region. They started organic farming projects, improved Public Distribution System (PDS) and paid due attention to forest conservation, as it is a major source of income for tribals. Their efforts have made Melghat a suicide-free zone for farmers.
JadavPayeng – The man who built a forest
Jadav “Molai” Payeng is an environmental activist and forestry worker from Jorhat, India. Somewhere around 1970’s the 16 year-old-boy, a Mishing tribal from Assam, started planting bamboo trees on sandbars. To date he has single handedly planted a forest larger than Central Park of New York. His forest has transformed what was once a barren wasteland into a lush oasis. The forest he planted is now called Molai forest in his honor is located near Kokilamukh of Jorhat, Assam. It encompasses an area of about 1,360 acres. In spite of the fact that in 2015, he was honoured with Padma Shri, the fourth highest civilian award in India, he still remains largely unknown to many Indians.
Ashok Row Kavi – The father of India’s LGBTQ rights movement
Due to early difficulty in dealing with his homosexuality, Ashok enrolled as a Hindu monk in the Ramakrishna Mission and indulged in theological studies. Encouraged by a senior monk, he left the monastery to freely explore and express his sexuality. A successful journalist by profession, he started Bombay Dost – first ever magazine in India which dealt with the issues of LGBT community and their well being.
At the present, he is founder-chairperson of the Humsafar Trust, which is the oldest LGBTQ rights organisation in India. The trust’s work comprises community work, provision of health services to members of the LGBT community, advocacy on gender and sexuality issues, and the legal emancipation of homosexuality in India. Though India still has a long way to go in recognising the rights of LGBTQ individuals, Kavi started the much needed discussion and dialogue around it.
Sunitha Krishnan – A phoenix who rose from the ashes to rescue others
A victim of gang rape herself, Sunitha Krishnan helps rehabilitate the women and girls who were victims of trafficking and the sex trade. Her organisation Prajwala is a pioneering anti-trafficking organization working on the issue of sex trafficking and against sex crimes. Established in the year 1996 in South India, Prajwala has pan Indian and International operations. Prajwala has built shelters, and has been imparting skills to rescued women to live independently and rehabilitate themselves in sustainable ways.
Uncle Moosa – The man who introduced a magical world of books to children in remote villages
Bringing change is not an easy task, and it becomes even more difficult when it is about inculcating reading habits in areas where the status of good education itself is questionable. Shri SathyanarayanMundayoor, famous among the children as Uncle Moosa, has spent 32 years in northeastern India influencing the education and reading movements at various levels. He quit his secure government job in the Income Tax Department to find a better way of living.
Keen on developing reading habits among students, he started a public library in 2007 in Arunachal Pradesh. With his dedication, some of the remotest villages in the North East now have over 13 such libraries. The books are donated by well-wishers, many of them bibliophiles with large private collections, and Uncle Moosa single-handedly manages the initiative to ensure a brighter future of his students.
SindhutaiSapkal – AMother of thousand orphans
SindhutaiSapkal, unlike many other activists does not have a stellar academic background or even formal schooling.. Her world was one of abject poverty and she spent years in an abusive relationship. When she left her house due to extreme levels of domestic violence, her relatives denied her support. She started begging for food on railway stations. She came across many children abandoned by their parents.She adopted them as her own and started soliciting the public vigorously to feed them.
She decided to become a mother to anyone and everyone who came across to her as an orphan. As of today, she has nurtured over 1,050 orphaned children. She now has a grand family of 207 sons-in-law, 36 daughters-in-law, and over 1000 grandchildren. Many of the children whom she adopted have become lawyers and doctors, and some, including her biological daughter, are running their own independent orphanages. She used all the award money to buy land to make a home for her orphan children.
The list can go on and on. These are just few representative faces of the communities of impact gurus. They are working 24×7 towards the one goal, making lives better. No matter what their method is, their goal remains the same. And sadly, the obstacle in their path is similar as well – resource crunch. The financial problem is the single largest problem faced by these.
These people work behind the scenes. Corporate funding schemes and government grants hardly find their way to their projects. What can help these unsung heroes of India is generous endowment from all possible sources, including cause-based donations that come through new age fundraising methods like crowdfunding.