2010 Honorees – Dr. Kiran Bedi, Dr. Rajiv Shah
Dr. Kiran Bedi — renowned social activist and trailblazer
The first woman officer to join the Indian Police Service in 1972, Kiran Bedi pioneered innovative and humanitarian policing, transforming Indian prisons and boldly reducing corruption. Dr. Bedi has represented India in numerous international forums, received the prestigious Magsaysay Award, and is the subject of the 2009 film Yes Madam, Sir. Dr. Bedi also started two non-profit organizations dedicated to prison reform, drug abuse prevention, child welfare and preventive policing.
Dr. Shah is the highest-ranking Indian American in any presidential administration. As the administrator of USAID, Dr. Shah heads up the US government’s worldwide economic and humanitarian assistance efforts. A medical doctor and expert on health policy and global development, Dr. Shah has broad experience in harnessing innovation to improve lives.
2011 Honorees – Mr. Anna Hazare, Mr. Prashant Bhushan, Dr. Paul Polak
Anna Hazare is an Indian social activist and prominent leader in the 2011 Indian anti-corruption movement, using non-violent methods following the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi. Hazare also contributed to the development and structuring of Ralegan Siddhi, a village in Parner taluka of Ahmednagar district, Maharashtra, India. He was awarded the Padma Bhushan — the third-highest civilian award — by the Government of India in 1992 for his efforts in establishing this village as a model for others.
Anna Hazare started an indefinite hunger strike on 5 April 2011 to exert pressure on the Indian government to enact a strigent anti-corruption law as envisaged in the Jan Lokpal Bill, for the institution of an ombudsman with the power to deal with corruption in public places. The fast led to nation-wide protests in support of Hazare. The fast ended on 9 April 2011, a day after the government accepted Hazare’s demands. The government issued a gazette notification on the formation of a joint committee, consisting of government and civil society representatives, to draft the legislation. When government refused to adopt a strong Lokpal Bill, Anna went on another fast and the India against Corruption team unleashed the power of the people, forcing the government and the parliament to adopt a resolution in support of a strong Jan Lokpal Bill.
An eminent supreme court lawyer and social activist in India, has fought over 500 Public Interest Litigation cases without charging any money, including the recent 2G Scam, appointment of Thomas as Chief Vigilance Officer for India, Doon Valley case, Bhopal gas tragedy litigation, Narmada dam case, and many more to protect the environment, to defend the rights of indigenous people, and to fight rampant corruption in the government and the judiciary. He represents the conscience of the Indian judiciary system, and is leading the fight to stop corruption and to restore people’s democratic rights.
Prashant Bhushan has been defending democratic and people’s rights in India all his adult life, starting with fighting against the emergency declared in 1976, and in 1978, at age 21, he authored a related book, “Case That Shook India.” Subsequently in 1990, he focused on the issue of corruption in government and authored the book, “Bofors: The Selling of a Nation.” He was recently appointed as a member of the committee constituted in April 2011 for drafting the Jan Lokpal bill. He has been leading the fight to stop corruption and to restore people’s democratic rights.
Dr. Paul Polak is the founder of International Development Enterprises (IDE), a non-profit organization that has helped 20 million of the world’s poorest people move out of poverty by making radically affordable irrigation available to small farmers, and opening private sector access to markets to further increase the sale of their crops.
For his work in agriculture, Dr. Polak was recognized by Scientific American as one of the world’s leading 50 contributors to science, was named Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year for the western states, and received the Florence Monito Del Giardino award for environmental preservation in 2008. His work has been featured in articles in Business Week, the Economist, the New York Times, Forbes, and National Geographic. In 2009, Polak was named by the Atlantic Monthly in as one of the world’s 27 “Brave Thinkers” willing to “risk careers, reputations, and fortunes to advance ideas that upend an established order” along with Barack Obama, and Steve Jobs. Dr. Polak’s book, Out of Poverty: What Works When Traditional Approaches Fail, has become a leading resource for practical solutions to global poverty.
Srikanth Nadhamuni, Technology Head, Aadhaar (UID) is a former Bay area entrepreneur and a former president of ICA (Indians for Collective Action). He moved back to India in 2002, and together with Nandan Nilekani co-founded the eGovernments Foundation.
The eGovernment Foundation created an eGovernance system to improve the functioning of City Municipalities leading to efficient delivery of services to the people. Its products have been successfully deployed in more than 275 Municipalities across the country, including Delhi, Bangalore, Nagpur, and Kanpur.
In 2009, Srikanth was appointed as the head of technology for Aadhaar to setup the UID (Unique Identification) Technology Centre in Bangalore, and lead the development and guided the implementationj of the Aadhaar platform. India’s UID or Aadhaar project is the world’s largest National ID project, giving a biometric based ID to each of the 1.2 billion Indian residents. It has the potential to transform the delivery of government services esp. to the rural poor by improving the efficiency of several benefit schemes such as NREGA (National Rural Employment Guarantee Act) and PDS (Public Distribution System). This e-governance project of unprecedented scale and complexity has been driven by a group lead by Nandan Nilekani, chairman UID Authority of India.
Nileema Mishra is an activist engaged in rural development in Maharashtra, India. She is one of the youngest recipients of the Magsaysay Award (dubbed as the Nobel Prize of Asia). She donated her Magsaysay award money, received in 2011, to Bhagini Nivedita Gramin Vigyan Niketan (BNGVN) to provide micro-finance to help poor women. In recognition of her work for rural development she was awarded Padmashree by the Government of India in 2013. Micro-financing coupled with logistical support provided to farmers, entrepreneurs and women’s Self Help Groups encourages savings, imparts skills for alternate livelihood, and helps build sanitation systems. Nileema’s initiative has eliminated farmer suicides and empowered rural women in multiple villages in many districts to be proud earning members of their families.
Melinda Kramer co-directs WEA’s world-wide work around issues of clean water, food security, climate change, and land protection through strategic investments in grassroots women’s leadership. WEA works to build solutions to global environmental challenges by uplifting the leadership of women. WEA’s work in India includes GREEN Foundation, RUPANTAR in Chhattisgarh , Rural Women Upliftment Society (RWUS) in Manipur, People’s Action for Development (PAD) in Assam, Bindrai Institute of Research and Action’s (BIRSA) in Jharkhand and Gorakhpur Environmental Action Group in UP. Rucha Chitnis, the South Asia Program Director of WEA joined Melinda in receiving the award.
2014 Honorees – Mrs. Reema Nanavaty, Dr. Vivek Murthy
Dr. Vivek Murthy, Faculty at Harvard Medical School, and president and co-founder of Doctors for America, was nominated by U.S. President Barack Obama to serve as the 19th Surgeon General of the United States, and confirmed by US Senate in 2014. He has worked to better the lives of Indians through his work in HIV prevention and AIDS education as president and chairman of a non-profit organization called Visions Worldwide, as well as for all Americans through his public health advocacy. Dr. Murthy was the Commencement Speaker at the Harvard Medical School and Yale School of Medicine in 2014. He is currently a practicing internal medicine doctor at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.
Padmashri Reema Nanavaty, Director, Economic and Rural Organizing, SEWA Joined the Indian Administrative Services (IAS), and then stepped out for a year to work with SEWA (Self Employed Women’s Association). She stayed on to lead millions of SEWA members, empowering them and lifting them out of poverty. Working selflessly for over 25 years on women’s economic empowerment, green energy and jobs, and children’s rights., she has also expanded SEWA’s work to other parts of India and internationally. She received India’s Padmashri award in 2013. SEWA’s main goals are to organize women workers for full employment and self-reliance. Come and learn how 2 million women have been empowered today and learn their challenges and solutions. Joining Reemaben to receive the award will be Kapilaben Vankar, President of SEWA.
Padmashree Dr. Prakash Amte and Dr. Mandakini Amte have spent 40 years to bridge the gap between the two worlds, that of the beneficiaries of modern science and technology and of the Madia Gond tribals who live on the fringes without basic necessities. They helped the tribal people get educated, establish their rights to their lands and resources, and intervened to mediate disputes and to get abusive government officials removed from the area. Today, the Amtes’ tribal area hospital treats forty thousand patients a year, free of charge. Champions for the environment, the Amtes run the popular animal refuge at Hemalkasa, promoting the survival of animals as part of nature’s balance.
Dr. Thomas Kailath, Professor Emeritus of Electrical Engineering at Stanford University, has been widely acclaimed for his contributions to science and technology. His numerous recognitions include the IEEE Medal of Honor in 2007 and the Padma Bhushan award in 2009 from the President of India. In 2014, President Barack Obama honored Prof. Kailath with the US National Medal of Science award, for his “transformative contributions to the fields of information and system sciences, dedicated and sustained mentoring of young scholars, and for translation of scientific ideas into entrepreneurial ventures that have had a significant impact on industry.” Professor Kailath has been actively nurturing social entrepreneurs and supporting numerous community and philanthropic initiatives in the United States and in India, including ICA’s Sarah Kailath Women’s Leadership Program.
Mr. Anshu Gupta is an Indian social entrepreneur who founded Goonj, a Delhi-based NGO that focuses on rural development. He won the Ramon Magsaysay Award in 2015, for his creative vision in transforming the culture of giving in India, his enterprising leadership in treating cloth as a sustainable development resource for the poor, and in reminding the world that true giving always respects and preserves human dignity. Anshu is an Ashoka Fellow and was conferred with ‘Social Entrepreneur of the Year Award’ by the Schwab Foundation in 2012.
Mr. Adhik Kadam is cofounder and director of Borderless World Foundation (BWF), and has spent the last 20 years saving hundreds of girls in the conflict zone in Jammu and Kashmir. His organization now provides a safe shelter and modern education to more than 220 girls. Working despite great personal risk – kidnapped by militants, interrogated by security forces, and subject to fatwas against him – Adhik has won the trust of all through his sincerity, transparency and dedication. He has been awarded the Mother Teresa Award For Social Justice, the Yuwanmesh 2011 Award, the Rotary Excellence Award, The Spirit of Mastek award and Youth Icon by Maharashtra Times Group.
Radha Ramaswamy Basu and Dipak Basu launched Anudip Foundation in 2007 to serve poor and marginalized youth through skills development in IT and entrepreneurship. In 2009, they started the Jhumki Basu Foundation to help at-risk American students from minority groups by developing in them a deep interest in science.
Radha Basu started iMerit in 2012, a social enterprise in human empowered computing that delivers on demand digital services to global clients employing some of the young men and women trained by Anudip. This unique model is being recognized as the Future of Work for marginalized youth and young women.
Dipak Basu, a cofounder of NetHope, a nonprofit tech alliance of the world’s largest aid agencies, is a recipient of the Tech Laureate Award for IT in Humanity, and the President’s Award from Save the Children.