There are many people whose pictures we see every day on the front pages of all the newspapers. That is when one question often comes to my mind: "are these people actually making a difference to the lives of the people in India?" And by 'making a difference' I don't mean whether they are making a difference just to the common man ('Aam Aadmi" as we call him) but also making a difference in the lives of the most unfortunate and desperate sections of our country whose tears are rarely seen and whose cries are often not heard, because everyone is busy in pleasing the 'common man' as he is apparently the one who decides who comes to power in every five years.
But even in this present scenario, when everyone is busy running after fame, power and wealth, there are few people who still believe that world would be a better place to live in if each one of us can wipe the tears of at least one of our fellow humans who is in need. For these heroes, life is a lesson in dedication and commitment, in caring for the underprivileged and weak, in devoting oneself to the welfare of others, in living by principles and making a difference in the lives of millions. Some of these people are:
1. Ela Ramesh Bhatt: Ela Ramesh Bhatt is the founder of the Self-Employed Women's Association of India(SEWA). She observed that thousands of female textile workers worked elsewhere to add to their family income, but the state laws protected only those who were solely industrial workers and not these self-employed women. So Bhatt sought to organize these self-employed women into a union. Then, in 1972, SEWA was established. She contributed in a bit way in boosting up the confidence of the female textile workers and in giving them the rights they deserved.
2. Anna Hazare: Anna Hazare voiced about the issue of corruption which has become a way of life in India. His movement is for a strong anti-corruption ombudsman bill in the Indian Parliament in order to free India from the clutches of deep-seated evil of corruption and to bring about transparency and accountability in the system. Whatever be the outcome of his initiative, he accomplished the gargantuan task of uniting the people of India and gave them the courage to stand up for a good cause.
3. Sunderlal Bahuguna: Sunderlal Bahuguna is an environmentalist who has spent his life working for the Himalayan people and educated them about the ecological destruction. He has played an active role in the anti-Tehri Dam movements as well the Chipko movement. He has spent his entire life dedicating himself to protecting the environment.
4. Aamir Khan: Aamir Khan started a revolution and reached the smallest of households through his television series 'Satyamave Jayate.' He voiced many issues which had never been addressed at such a large scale earlier. He brought about awareness amongst the people and gave a new zeal to the youth of this country to work for a cause. Through this effort, he made the most appropriate use of the small screen to reach out to the country at large.
5. Azim Premji: The Azim Premji Foundation has been doing a great job in the field of promoting education for children in India. The value of education cannot be emphasized enough when we talk of bringing about a better tomorrow. Azim Premji, through his NGO, is doing a lot of work for promotion of primary education in India.
6. Prof. Shantha Sinha: Prof. Shantha Sinha has contributed immensely in the field of child labor which is among the most shameful issues India is dealing with today. She is an anti-child labor activist who has contributed phenomenally to the reduction of child labor in almost about 500 villages in Andhra Pradesh. She currently heads the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights and is doing justice to her position as a chairperson.
7. Aditya Bandopadhyay: Aditya Bandopadhyay is a lawyer who promotes gay rights. Bandopadhyay is a gay rights activist and fights for every person's right to his/her sexual preferences. Aditya has been an activist for the rights of all sexualities since 1993 and has also worked in many HIV/AIDS movement for prevention of male to male sexual transmission.
8. Meneka Gandhi: Meneka Gandhi has been a very active animal rights activist who, through her organization 'People for Animals,' brought forth and spread awareness about the rights of animals on a very large scale. She also highlighted the sufferings meted out to animals due to their commercial exploitation. Gandhi's contribution to the field of animal welfare can never be undermined and her organization is still going strong for the noble cause which they stand for.
9. Dr. Sunitha Krishnan: Dr. Sunitha Krishnan is the co-founder of the NGO 'Prajwala' which is working for the very noble cause of rehabilitating sex workers and their children. She has been instrumental in rescuing many women from brothels and giving them training on skills to find an alternative livelihood. She is also involved with educating the children of sex workers.
10. Lenin Raghuvanshi: Lenin is a Dalit rights activist and has been working for the upliftment of the Dalits who have been subject to the wrath of the perennial caste system in India. The contribution of Lenin and his organization for the upliftment of this marginalized sections of the society is highly commendable.
Even today, when the only things which we hear of in this country are corruption, death, and diseases, there are people who bring a new ray of hope to the people in the society through their work. People who are suffering today do not need money or food to survive; all they need is someone who can give them the courage to stand up for themselves. It gives great pleasure to see that there are people who still believe in spreading smiles through their work.
Hats off to these heroes!
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