Mumbai: The first annual Yashraj Bharati Samman was conferred recently at a glittering ceremony held in Mumbai to the following laureates – Society for Education, Action, and Research in Community Health (SEARCH) and Prof. Navakanta Bhat in the category of Innovation in Healthcare; Professional Assistance Development Action (PRADAN) in the category of Transforming People’s Lives; and Dr. Ajay Bhushan Pandey for Ethical Governance.
The gratitude ceremony to honor the Samman recipients was held on April 8 at the Jamshed Bhabha Theatre of the National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA), Mumbai.
The Yashraj Bharati Samman 2022-2023 lauds and celebrates real-life heroes who have worked tirelessly at the grassroots level, dedicating their lives to the service of others. These change-makers were selected through a rigorous vetting process spread over a year.
The assessment of the nominees was done by an expert jury which included three teaching faculties from Institute of Rural Management (IRMA) headed by Prof. Harekrishna Misra and experts on our three categories – Dr. Maya Mascarenhas (Programme Coordinator, Myrada), Ved Arya (Founder, Srijan & Buddha Fellowship) and D. K. Jain (Member, Lokpal of India). An eminent jury, comprising of Dr. G. Padmanaban, the former director of IISc, Bengaluru, and Prof. Ram Charan, made the final selection based on reports from field assessments and announcement of the laureates.
The event was presided over by Union Minister for Science & Technology and Earth Science (I/C), Dr. Jitendra Singh, Deputy Chief Minister Maharashtra, Devendra Fadnavis and former speaker of the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly Dilip Walse-Patil.
Union Minister for Health & Family Welfare, Dr. Mansukh Mandaviya, was also expected at the event but could not attend due to urgent requirements. The honorable minister issued a letter applauding the efforts and contributions made by the Samman recipients. He appreciated the efforts made in the field of Innovation in healthcare and added that the government of India encourages and supports research and innovation in the healthcare sector.
The ceremony, hosted by Gitikka Ganju Dhar, also featured a performance by Kathak dance maestro, Sheetal Kolwalkar. For each category, Samman recipients were presented with the Yashraj Bharati Samman 2023 medal and citation plaque, and a sum of Rs. 1 crore 1 lakh rupees. (In one category this amount is being shared by 2 recipients).
The profile of the Laureates is as follows:
Category: Innovation in Healthcare.
Laureate: Society for Education, Action, and Research in Community Health (SEARCH).
The Society for Education, Action, and Research in Community Health (SEARCH) was founded in 1986 by Drs. Abhay and Rani Bang. SEARCH is a non-governmental organization operating in the semi-tribal district of Gadchiroli, Maharashtra. In an area ridden with poverty and lacking developmental infrastructure, SEARCH has made honorable advancements in providing healthcare to a vast section of a predominantly rural and tribal population.
They have worked towards providing gynecological support, like neonatal and infant care, training community health workers, and successfully running social awareness campaigns against tobacco and drug use. Their innovative models have been incorporated by multiple state and national institutions, as well as inspiring a global-scale impact with their trained community health workers aiding 77 countries in their child health management programmes.
Category: Innovation in Healthcare.
Laureate: Prof. Navakanta Bhat.
Professor Navakanta Bhat, Centre for Nano Science and Engineering, Indian Institute of Science (IISc, Bangalore), is being honored for his immense contribution to scientific research and technological development of nano-electronics, with the aim of bridging the healthcare divide in India. He initiated research in electrochemical biosensors for early diagnosis of chronic diseases like diabetes, anemia, malnutrition, and liver and kidney diseases.
PathShodh Healthcare, founded by Prof. Navakanta Bhat and Dr. Vinay Kumar, works towards making healthcare diagnosis affordable and accessible. Their innovations include the first-of-its-kind platform in the world, anuPathTM, which is a Lab-on-Palm device capable of performing multiple tests. Prof. Navakanta’s work has already spread across 12 states, impacting more than 50,000 lives.
Category: Transforming People’s Lives.
Laureate: Professional Assistance Development Action (PRADAN)
Professional Assistance and Development Action (PRADAN) is one of India’s foremost agencies working on large-scale rural poverty alleviation. Founded in 1983 with a belief that the extent, diversity and endemic character of Indian poverty requires the brightest to engage with the poorest, PRADAN has expanded to a nationwide scale.
As of September 30, 2022, PRADAN works with 1 million families in 9,377 villages spread across 41 districts, 124 Blocks in 7 States. PRADAN has a plan for a five-fold growth and aims to ensure the prosperity and well-being of 50 million rural population by 2030. Blending climate action with rural livelihoods, PRADAN has also influenced state governments and private foundations to invest significantly in climate-special initiatives. PRADAN has a plan for a five-fold growth and aims to ensure the prosperity and well-being of 50 million rural population by 2030.
Category: Ethical Governance.
Laureate: Dr. Ajay Bhushan Pandey.
Currently the Chairperson of National Financial Reporting Authority, Dr. Ajay Bhushan Pandey spearheaded the Aadhaar and UPI payments initiatives, reformed and simplified taxation, and implemented a new tax regime like the GST within just three years. During his tenure as the Finance Secretary of India, a radical new initiative was launched, the Faceless assessment and appeals scheme.
This initiative has eliminated the possibility of corruption in the process of tax assessment by a substantial margin and opened the possibility of using digital means to counter corruption and strengthen ethical governance. His efforts are remarkable in strengthening transparency in governance and improving accessibility of governance, equally, for all citizens of India.