Winners of Spirit of Mastek Awards

Each quarter, Mastek felicitates individuals who have made valuable contributions to society with its 'Spirit of Mastek' Award.

Some of our past awardees include: Shaheen Mistri of The Akanksha Foundation, Shailesh Gandhi of RTI, and Dr Arun Ranade, Pravin and Preeti Patkar of Prerana.

Year 2011 - 2012 Awards

Adhik Kadam

Fifteen years ago when Pune lad Adhik Kadam took his bike and rode to the militancy hit districts of Kupwara and Badgam in Kashmir, little did he know that the Valley would become their second home. Shaken by the number of children orphaned during militancy, the boy sets up a home for 73 girls. Now the first batch of 20 girls is all set to leave Borderless World Foundation (BWF) in Kashmir to learn more about art, computers, music, photography and even rangoli drawing at schools in Pune, Nashik and Kolhapur.

Adhik Kadam is the founder of Borderless World Foundation. BWF was established in 2002. Adhik has built homes for orphans in Kashmir. In 1997, Adhik found that there were 15000 orphans in a district of Kashmir alone. There were shelters for boys, but none for girls. He has been doing exceptional good work in the community. Keeping in mind our motto, Informed Giving and Responsible receiving, Mastek foundation had felicitated Adhik Kadam for Spirit of Mastek award in April 2012.

Year 2010 - 2011 Awards

Naseema Hurzuk

"When I was struck with paraplegia at the age of 16, I used to tell people if you love me, you must give me poison". From that day to this, at the age of 60, Naseema Hurzuk has come a long way, a journey accomplished on a wheel chair. She founded Helpers of the Handicapped in 1984, an institution which runs schools & social entrepreneurship units for the disabled in Kolhapur.

"My aim is to take out disability from the disabled, to make them as productive as normal people" says Naseema Didi. "I also wish to change the way normal people look at the disabled, we do not seek sympathy, we only need opportunity".

In the service of others, she forgot her own pain. She says, "if I have to cry I have the whole night with me, but my day is for serving the handicapped, I don't want anyone to see me cry".

Vinayak Lohani

Vinayak Lohani, an IIM graduate, gave up a worthwhile career in the corporate sector to help Kolkata's destitute children. An engineer, Lohani was working with Infosys when he joined the prestigious Indian Institute of Management, Kolkata. The future looked rosy and life was miles away from social reality.

However, Lohane found himself to be a misfit in the corporate & IIM world. He decided to take the path not many dare to tread. He began by walking the slums and red-light areas of Kolkata , a journey that ended in the formation of Parivaar — a shelter for the homeless and abandoned children.

Ask Vinayak why he chose Parivaar over IIM Kolkata, he says, "Societal norms set your path and give you limited choices. Like others, I too was following what was the norm - first engineering, a one-year stint at Infosys and then management. I'm glad that I realized early in life that this is not what I wanted to do.

Parivaar helps rehabilitate orphans, street children and children of sex workers in Kolkata. Vinayak has come a long way from where he started but he is still restless, "I have achieved my goal but that does not mean it's the end of my work. I have a long, long way to go.."

For more details visit: www.parivaar.org

Sweta Mangal

Most of us must have seen the 1298 advertised on bill boards, some might have heard experienced users and a few might have dialed it themselves. On 9th January, 2010, Mastekeers heard the story behind the Dial 1298 Emergency Ambulance Service straight from the luminary behind the helm. It was a privilege to adorn the young social entrepreneur as the world calls her, Sweta Mangal with the Spirit of Mastek award.

Being a contemporary, Sweta aged 26, was able to inspire our people and fill the air with the energy of her youth. Sweta said, "one must stop making concrete plans for the future. Instead learn to seize and build upon opportunity when it knocks, even when it means entering unchartered waters. There is a lot of difference between 'deciding' & 'doing'. She says, "once you have made up your mind, don't think, just act".

Dr. Ashish Satav

As a youngster, Dr. Ashish was deeply inspired by Gandhi's call to youth to work in villages. His own grandfather was a leader in the Sarvodaya movement. As a medical student, Ashish used to visit Dr. Prakash Amte who did stellar work in the tribal areas of Gadchiroli in Maharashtra. Once he graduated, instead of joining a lucrative big-city practice, Ashish knew he could have more impact by working in the poorest and most deprived parts of India. He landed up in beautiful but poor Melghat.

In 1998, when Dr. Ashish Satav and his wife Dr. Kavita arrived in Melghat, one of Maharashtra's most backward tribal areas, the infant mortality rates in that region were stunning: more than 100 deaths per 1,000 live births – almost twice the Indian average of 52 per 1,000. There were no hospital facilities anywhere close, and infant malnutrition was rampant – 10 times beyond the official government statistics. Today, Ashish along with wife Kavita, through sheer determination and ingenuity, has managed to reduce the mortality rates to around 60 per 1,000. Severe malnutrition cases have dropped by over 40%. Over the last 12 years, this dynamic Doctor Duo has treated over 38,000 patients across 36 poor villages in Melghat, saving many lives and treating people back to health.

Mastek Foundation has supported Dr. Ashish Satav and Mahan Trust with an ambulance which now helps the couple transfer critical patients to larger city hospitals in time.

Bestowing upon him the "Spirit of Mastek award" was the least we could do to applaud his humble efforts towards serving the real India, the rural India.

Dr. Ramani

About 25 years ago Dr. Ramani opened up his first free clinic to serve the poor in India. At that time the clinic had an overwhelming amount of visitors from all over India. Later what started out to be a small clinic room became Sankara Eye Foundation. Till date, the organization has conducted over 7981 outreach camps, screening 1495572 patients for eye ailments. Over 503322 of these vision restoring surgeries have been performed. The institution has maintained an enviable 98.8% success rate in its outcome.The approximate benefit accrued to the community through its activities is Rs 2.51 Billion. The National Programme for Control of Blindness is amongst the most successful public-private partnerships in eye care. Dr. R V Ramani , Founder and Managing Trustee was invited to be one of the members of the National Vision 2020 team constituted by the Government of India.

Year 2009 - 2010 Awards

G.S Tiwari and Shekhar Peshwe

On the night of 26/11 in 2008 as Mumbai watched and was stunned by the ferocious attacks on some of its most iconic landmarks, a handful of ordinary people chose not to run, but fight back instead. Their weapons were the help they gave to their fellow citizens. A few calm words that saved lives of thousands, a brave hand extended to save a stranger, a defiant bullet from an antiquated gun. These were ordinary people yet extraordinary heroes. Mastek salutes such individuals and awards them the Spirit of Mastek Award.

Girija Shankar Tiwari, telecom & indicator maintainer and Shekhar Peshwe, a helper at Mumbai CST showed courage under fire.

Their quick thinking and prompt action impelled commuters to safely exit the theatre of war on the horrific Wednesday night. This saved the lives of over 400 commuters who could have got killed on that day.

They were helping the announcer to repeatedly air the announcements asking people to exit the station from the rear end, Mr. Tiwari & Mr. Peshwe informed other authorities (GRP & RPF) about the two gunmen & grenade attacks on the Mainline platforms; they made the small announcement room safe for themselves by switching off the lights & electric transformers which could have caught fire. Mr. Tiwari thankfully escaped a bullet from Kasab's gun coming towards the announcement box.

When asked why they did not run like the others Tiwari replied "My only thought was how to save the commuters from getting killed by the terrorist, I did not think of anything else".

We salute the valor of these extraordinary ordinary people who fought back and did not run and their demonstration of exemplary courage which avoided a dreadful blood bath on a Black Wednesday. The heroes were presented the Spirit of Mastek award on 10th January 2009 by Ashank Desai at the Mastek quarterly meeting.

Jayant Manilal Mehta

After giving up his lucrative job in the Gulf in 1977, Mr. Jayant Manilal Mehta returned to India to set up his own business. His business was giving him the fruits of his perseverance. However, in February 1994 he had to undergo a critical brain surgery which changed his world completely. On the verge of life and death he realized how uncertain human life could be and vowed that if survived he would dedicate rest of his life for the betterment of the underprivileged.

In the year 1996 he handed over his business to his son and established a non profit organization named 'The Bridge Public Charitable Trust'; a bridge between 'haves' and 'have nots', for transferring resources from those who have them in excess to those unfortunates who lack them.

A chance visit to poverty stricken villages of Shahapur Taluka in Thane District of Maharashtra perturbed him and made him determined to help the tribal communities deprived of basic necessities such as water, healthcare, education, and livelihood. The businessman turned philanthropist then decided to work at the grass root level.

He was troubled when he saw the villagers especially women from this area have to walk 4 to 5 kms daily to fetch drinking water. Knowing that water is the life line of all development activities Mr. Mehta decided to tackle water scarcity through rain water harvesting on a priority basis.

Our association with The Bridge Public Charitable Trust has proved to be the perfect example of 'informed giving; responsible receiving' which is the motto of Mastek Foundation. We plaudit Mr. Mehta for his unremitting spirit and commitment towards the cause of the people and to have been an important instrument of societal change.

Anand Shah

July 18, 2009 was the day when each Mastekeer was bowled over by the aura of Anand Shah, an immensely learned man and a social entrepreneur of sorts.

A fiery start to his discourse was an echo to what each one of us usually crib about. " Stop carping about disorganized management, corrupt politicians, bad climate, grimy streets, illegal populace and take onus in carving the future of your country" summarises the essence of his inspiring speech.

He is the founder of Indicorps, a program which challenges young people from around the world to recognize their ability to enable change by providing structured opportunities to work on development problems in rural India for a year, where he is currently Executive Director.

Indicorps aims to merge personal development with that of the world around, captured by its slogan: "service for the soul".

He urged every individual present in the auditorium to spend at least a small part of their lives in volunteering as India can progress only through the skills, talent & intelligence of erudites like us who have access to all luxuries of life.

Nitya Shanti

Nithya Shanti is a spiritual teacher, writer, therapist, seminar leader and modern day sage. He is committed to sharing transformational principles and practices for peace and happiness in our daily lives.

A business management graduate from XLRI, a Human Resources and Corporate Strategy professional with a successful career felt a yearning for spiritual growth and inner mastery. Subsequently in 2001 and for six years after, he underwent rigorous monastic training living with meditation masters in remote forests across South East Asia.

Nithya Shanti spreads happiness by example, by being a shining presence of joy and gratitude. He is gifted in the ability to share profound teachings in light hearted ways.

On the morning of 24th October, 2009, every Mastekeer was buried under the piousness of his sermon.

His exuberant oration comprised a digital camera, a mirror and the four letter word 'LOVE'. He spoke about the clarity of the images from the digital camera more than what we can see from the naked eye. The entirety of awareness gives stillness to the mind & the image of life can be viewed lucidly. Our outer life is a perfect mirror of our inner life hence we must make attempts to bring peace & mindfulness within. None is superior or inferior or for that matter equal to any human being. Things are the way they are! The most important premise is to love- Love is to see divine order in all things. Love is feeling & accepting all emotions that come to your heart. Love is to forgive oneself & others for everything.

Year 2007 - 2008 Awards

Dr. Jayprakash Narayan

Politics in India is widely regarded as a cesspit, something that sane people should give wide berth to. Yet, the fate of the country hinges to a great extent on our politicians and the kind of governance they provide. When someone decides to make a difference to Indian politics and bring about qualitative improvements in governance, his or her efforts need to be given the fullest encouragement.

Dr. Jayprakash Narayan is one such person. He gave up a comfortable post in the Indian Administrative Services to promote the cause of political governance. Dr. Narayan has made a valuable difference by initiating work for a political structure that aims to create new and people-centered politics for the next generation.

In recognition of his efforts, Mastek honoured him with the 'Spirit of Mastek' Award recently. This award has been instituted to acknowledge the efforts of individuals from all walks of life (outside of Mastek) who demonstrate the 'Spirit of Making a Difference' and 'Inspired Leadership'. These individuals demonstrate the ability to go beyond the call of duty and are an inspiration to those around them.

At a function to receive the 'Spirit of Mastek' award, Dr. Narayan said: "If you remain a silent spectator to an injustice, then you are as responsible for it as the perpretator himself." According to him, a major problem is the criminalization of politics, with politicians using money and muscle power to hang on to the reins of power. We need transparency and accountability in governance and electoral reforms.

According to Dr. Narayan, there are two major sins. One is unfulfilled potential, when people are unaware of their own capabilities and potential, and end up being underutilized resources for the state and country. Another is avoidable suffering, when people feel they have no control over things and put up with miserable conditions.

A physician by training, Dr. Narayan joined the IAS in 1980, and during his nearly 17 years of distinguished public service in various capacities, acquired a formidable reputation in Andhra Pradesh. He served variously as Secretary to both Governor and Chief Minister.

His experience in government convinced him that what India needs today is not merely a periodic change of players, but a fundamental change in the rules of the game. To translate his vision into reality, he resigned from the IAS in 1996 and worked with like-minded colleagues to form the Lok Satta.

Lok Satta emerged as India's leading civil society initiative and people's movement for wide-ranging governance and political reforms. The movement is driving the electoral and governance reform agenda of the country, with several notable successes to its credit. Lok Satta launched a national platform called VOTEINDIA in partnership with several organizations to spearhead the campaign for political reforms.

Dr. Narayan was the National Coordinator of the Lok Satta and VOTEINDIA movements. After much thought and organization-wide consultations, the need was felt for a political presence, and the Lok Satta Party was launched in October 2, 2006, with Dr. Narayan as its leader.

Dr. Narayan was a member of the National Advisory Council, which, under the Chairpersonship of Mrs Sonia Gandhi, was set up to serve as an interface with civil society with regard to the implementation of the National Common Minimum Programme (NCMP) of the Government of India. He is a member of the Second Administrative Reform Commission, constituted by the President of India with the mandate of preparing a detailed blueprint for revamping the public administration system in India.

Certainly, he's got the experience and the qualifications to bring about political change!

Year 2005 - 2006 Awards

Dr. Abhay and Dr. Rani Bang

In recent months, India has attracted a lot of attention in the world's press because of its growing economic clout. There is a new spirit of optimism in the country, and there is talk about India becoming the next superpower in a couple of decades. While there's indeed plenty to be proud about, the uncomfortable fact is that in many parts of the country, time seems to have stood still. Grinding poverty is the norm, as is widespread illiteracy, high child mortality and low life expectancy.

At the Mastek monthly meet held in Mumbai in December 2005, Dr. Abhay Bang and Dr. Rani Bang of the non-governmental organisation SEARCH (Society for Education, Action & Research in Community Health) (http://www.searchgadchiroli.org) were given the Spirit of Mastek Award for their efforts to improve the health of underprivileged people in the impoverished Gadchiroli district of Maharashtra.

The Bangs' story began more than two decades ago, when they completed their Master of Public Health course at the Johns Hopkins University in the USA. Inspired by Gandhian ideals, the Bangs chose to return to India to use their skills to help the poor. They then set up base in one of the poorest areas of the country – the predominantly tribal district of Gadchiroli. Their dream was not just to look after the health needs of the community, but also to generate knowledge for the global community through research.

Today, SEARCH's headquarters is Shodhgram, deep in the forests of Gadchiroli. It looks like a cross between a Gandhian ashram and a tribal village, and has a tribal-friendly hospital, a research centre, a training centre, a library and a Bal Bhavan for children. It has become a Mecca for community health research in India.

Reducing child mortality

Among the Bangs' biggest tasks was tacking the alarmingly high mortality rate in the area. "We were always interested in women's and children's health. Also, there wasn't -- and isn't – much work done on the causes of child mortality, so we decided to concentrate on infant deaths," says Dr. Rani Bang.

So the first thing they did was to gather evidence about infant deaths. Their work proved to be path-breaking, and was published in the reputed British medical journal Lancet in 1998.

The Bangs' studies found that pneumonia was the leading cause of infant deaths, along with infections, asphyxia, lack of proper breast feeding etc. Armed with this knowledge, SEARCH designed a Home-based Neonatal Care (HBNC) programme, and conducted a five-year field trial in 39 villages in the district. The trial found that rural mothers and village health workers could be trained to manage most sick newborns at home.

SEARCH went on a drive to educate mothers, their husbands and in-laws on the care needed during pregnancy and after delivery to prevent such infant deaths. In addition, local midwives and village women were also trained to take care of newborn infants.

The measures were extremely effective indeed, leading to a dramatic drop in the infant mortality rate to 30 per 1,000 babies, from 121 earlier. To put this in perspective, the Indian government's target is to bring the child mortality rate down to 30 by the year 2010 from the current 60-65, says Dr. Rani Bang.

Improving the reproductive health of women

The lot of the women of Gadchiroli is a hard one. They have to work long hours in the fields, cope with their husbands' alcoholism and face frequent beatings. Their health figures very low in the family's priorities, and the little health care facilities that existed focus on maternity care and family care. The women desperately needed safe abortion services, care for gynaecological and sexually transmitted diseases and sex and reproductive health education.

In their studies, the Bangs presented evidence for the first time that rural women needed gynaecological care in addition to maternal care and family planning. Their studies and advocacy helped initiate the shift in global population policy towards women's reproductive health.

Apart from research, SEARCH used a community-based approach to tackle women's health issues. These included organising 'jatras', slide shows, plays and 'kirtans' to educate women. Village female workers were also trained to identify problems and refer ailing women to the SEARCH clinic.

Breaking the grip of alcohol

Another problem was that of rampant alcoholism in the area. SEARCH led a movement against alcohol by mobilising the people of the district, political parties, NGOs and legislators etc. The aim was to change the government policy that encouraged liquor consumption, and to empower women throughout Maharashtra to vote to close down an alcohol shop in their locality if they felt that its sales harmed their lives.

It wasn't easy going. SEARCH had to face opposition from the strong liquor lobby that included powerful politicians. "It was a long struggle for five years and we faced many threats to our lives. But the backing and faith of the people was our reward," says Dr. Bang.

Eventually, the Maharashtra government came out with rule which stated that if fifty per cent of women from any particular area wanted liquor shops to be closed down, it had to be done by the authorities. Moreover, possession of illicit liquor was made a cognisable offence.

But despite all their efforts, there was no shortage of alcoholics in the area. So SEARCH developed a village-based de-addiction programme; the villagers themselves assumed responsibility for the programme, with volunteers from the NGO visiting once in a while. The programme succeeded in helping many alcoholics break their habit and lead normal lives.

Tackling the scourge of malaria

SEARCH has also trained tribal youth in malaria prevention using a holistic approach that involves taking care of sanitation, hygiene, using mosquito nets etc. It was a matter of satisfaction for the NGO that it was able to rope the village pujaris into the programme, since their word carries a lot of weight among the villagers.

Called Project Ankur, the programme has been implemented not only in Gadchiroli, but also in Meerut, Solapur, Nagpur, Yevatmal etc. What's more, the government of India has -- with the help of SEARCH -- implemented the programme in Rajasthan, Bihar, Orissa and UP as well. The Indian Council of Medical Research has also given its stamp of approval to this innovative programme.

Still a long way to go

It hasn't always been a smooth road for SEARCH. But all the hard work and pain has yielded results. Not only has SEARCH achieved a lot of what it set out to do, it has received international recognition as well. The Bangs were named one of the Heroes of Health by TIME magazine for the year 2005. "It's an honour for all NGOs. Media endorsement helps attract attention to a particular cause and people start feeling responsible," says Dr. Rani Bang.

However, Dr. Bang feels that the government needs to pay more attention to rural areas. She feels the government and NGOs can work together to improve facilities, infrastructure, manpower, and the general health of people in rural and tribal areas. "Since we are closer to the community, we can identify their problems and offer solutions. But we don't have the capacity to meet their requirements, and need government help. There's a lack of motivation, political will and accountability towards the people on the part of the government," she says.

She also thinks corporates too can play a vital role. While corporate social responsibility is a welcome concept, Dr. Bang says corporates should extend that responsibility to include a wider section of society. She suggests that companies form trusts or foundations for particular causes that would be separate from their economic interests.

To encourage doctors to serve the poor and needy, Dr. Bang says, the medical curriculum needs to change to include behavioural sciences. She also emphasises on the need to invest more in public health, in terms of resources and training.

However, Dr. Bang feels she and her organisation still have a long way to go. "We need to do a lot more work. We've got much more than what we have given the people, and learned a lot from them -- their language, culture and much more. Our challenge is to help the needy and we will always be working towards this," she says.

Dr. Arun Ranade

In an increasingly cynical age, when the question most people seem to ask is "What's in it for me?", it's hard to find someone truly selfless, someone who considers his life's mission to help people in need.

In the aftermath of the Mumbai floods, Mastekeers had the opportunity to come into contact with one such Good Samaritan, Dr. Arun Ranade. Hospitals were filling up with the sick and injured, but the city was stricken by a lack of blood. The doctor swung into action and organized 20 blood donation camps – with Mastekeers pitching in to help – to meet that shortfall.

It was in recognition of his selfless service that we gave him 'The Spirit of Mastek' award at the Monthly Meet on August 20. The award is given out every year to outstanding individuals who make a difference to people's lives and make the world a better place. Dr. Ranade was the unanimous choice for the award for 2005.

It wasn't the first time that Dr. Ranade had done something of this nature. He has donated personally 119 bottles of blood and organized over 1000 blood donation camps for 30 years now. He is also deeply involved in eye donation drives and also delivers regular lectures on sex and AIDS awareness, family planning, substance abuse and personality development.

And all this despite a busy life, running the Ranade Surgical Nursing Home, a 13-bedded fully-equipped care centre at Panvel.

There are thousands of doctors who are dedicated to their profession. But Dr. Ranade is among the few who go beyond the call of duty to selflessly serve the poor and needy. What makes him do it?

Dr. Ranade developed his social conscience at an early age. In his younger days, he read many inspirational magazines such as Stree and Kirloskar that dealt with women's empowerment, health and other social problems. The values that he picked up then have made him what he is today. The family background too helped. "I come from a typically middle-class Maharashtrian background that frowns upon ostentatious displays of wealth and possessions. I had a registered marriage 27 years ago which was attended by just eight family members," he says.

His first foray into social service was as a student in medical college, when he discovered that there were patients who were so poor they couldn't afford to pay the doctors when they fell ill. Dr. Ranade's extended family had a few doctors whom he persuaded to treat his friends. "I have always had a special place in my heart for the poor," he says.

Dr. Ranade started donating blood while he was still a youngster and is an active donor even today. Not just that, he also persuades his extended family and neighbours to donate blood. "It's sad that people don't come forward to donate blood. Misconceptions and ignorance deter many people from donating blood. I recall an incident when a little boy was struggling for his life and needed blood. When I asked his father to donate, he flatly refused. I couldn't persuade him at all," he says.

He's also an active campaigner for the cause of eye donation. To date, he's managed to convince 12 families to donate the eyes of their loved ones after death. His mother's eyes were donated, and it's very comforting for him to know that another person's life will be transformed as a result.

Over the past few years, Dr. Ranade has helped 10 childless couples adopt children. "A couple once came over, begging me to abort their child. They had a one-year-old baby and weren't financially secure enough to afford another one. It was too late for me to operate so I refused. But they were desperate and refused to accept the child. That's when I decided to give the child to a childless couple. Today the couple is very happy and ever-grateful to the Almighty for this opportunity," he says.

Dr. Ranade has also set up a facility -- Shanti Avedan -- for the terminally ill at his nursing home. He was inspired into setting up the facility after he came across a special section by that name at the Mount Mary Church in Bandra. Terminally ill patients need round-the-clock attention and it is difficult for their family to take care of them. Until now, 15 such patients -- including some AIDS patients -- have been looked after at Shanti Avedan.

Dattaprasad, one of Dr. Ranade's students, who accompanied him to the award ceremony, explains how the doctor transformed his life. As a first year MBBS student at Terna Medical College, Dattaprasad was addicted to alcohol and smoking. He neglected his studies – taking four attempts to clear his first year -- and found himself staring at a dark future. It was after he met Dr. Ranade in his second year that his life changed. "I welcomed New Year 2003 by donating a bottle of blood with Dr. Ranade at midnight instead of drinking a bottle of beer. Whatever I am today and will be in the future is because of Dr. Ranade's total involvement in my career and life," he says.

For someone who seems to have time for everyone, how does he manage to find time for himself? Dr. Ranade tackles this problem by simply waking up at 4 am. After spending an hour at the gym between 5 am and 6 am, he gets ready for work, and to do his good deeds for the day.

The fact that his family or his colleagues don't have the same level of interest or involvement in social and humanitarian work doesn't perturb him. In fact, he's penned a few lines on this:

They call me mad
They are not wrong
To achieve a goal
You have to be mad

Dr. Prakash and Dr. Mandatai Amte

Social service seems to be a tradition in the Amte family. Baba Amte has spent much of his life in the rehabilitation and care of leprosy patients at his Anandwan ashram in one of the poorest tribal areas in Maharashtra. His younger son, Dr. Prakash Amte and his wife Dr. Mandatai Amte, continued in Baba Amte's footsteps and today treat more than 40,000 tribal patients a year at their hospital in Hemalkasa in the Gadchiroli district of Maharashtra.

Dr. Prakash and Dr. Mandatai Amte were given The Spirit of Mastek Award for their great work in the uplift of the poor, needy and socially deprived at a function held in Mumbai recently. The awards are given to those who provide inspired leadership in the service of the poor and the disadvantaged sections of society. The aim of the award is not only to recognise their work, but also to inspire others who may follow in their footsteps. Earlier recipients include Dr. Arun Ranade of Mumbai for his many activities as a Good Samaritan, and Dr. Abhay Bang and Dr. Rani Bang of the NGO SEARCH for their work to improve the living conditions of the poor people of Gadchiroli.

For Dr. Prakash Amte, it all began when his father took him for a picnic to Bhamragad in Gadchiroli district. It was there that he encountered the immense suffering of the Gond tribals, who were in the depths of poverty and deprivation and had no access to any kind of healthcare facility in that remote area.

When they returned from the trip, Baba Amte asked his son how he would like to work among the Gonds. Dr. Amte's answer was an instinctive yes, a decision that changed his life forever. "Turn your back to the world and the world will follow you," he says.

Initially, things weren't easy. The first thing the Amtes wanted was some land to build a facility, so they applied to the Maharashtra government for a grant of land. That took a while coming. "It took three years for the grant to come through as all bureaucratic work takes a while in our country," says Dr. Amte.

Meanwhile, Prakash Amte married Mandatai. He left his internship and Mandatai gave up her government job, and the couple set about the uphill task of relieving the tribals of their pain and misery.

They built a small hut for themselves and a larger one for the patients they would be treating. But there were other roadblocks. "It was very difficult initially as we did not know their dialect, making it impossible to communicate. They don't speak any other language, which made matters worse," says Dr. Amte. The Gonds were suspicious of outsiders and resistant to the idea of visiting the Amtes for treatment. They preferred instead to go to the village medicine man for their ailments.

The turning point came when a boy suffering from epilepsy was brought in for treatment. Under the Amtes' treatment, the boy recovered completely. There was no looking back after that. Once they gained the confidence of the Gonds, it was a matter of time before the trickle turned into a flood. Today, the Amtes cater to the needs of 40,000 patients a year at their 40-bed hospital in Hemalkasa.

The Amtes haven't restricted themselves to healthcare. They also set up a school for the tribal children. In fact, their own children studied at the school, and were the only non-tribals to do so. The school has been another success story, and has produced five Gond doctors, who also contribute to the project. "Almost 99 percent of the tribal children who've studied in the school and pursued higher studies have come back to work with us," says Dr. Amte.

Dr. Prakash Amte's compassion extends to animals as well. Also at Hemalkasa is a sort of 'Amte Animal Ark' that houses and treats injured wild animals. There's a story behind this. When the Amtes first settled in Hemalkasa, they realised that the tribals survived on meat and "ate anything that moved". "Once we saw some tribals carrying three red-faced monkeys that they had hunted. One of the monkeys had its live baby clinging to it and it was a pitiable sight," says Dr. Amte. He convinced the tribals to part with the little monkey, and from thereon started exchanging wild animals for food. Eventually, Hemalkasa had a mini-zoo with an assortment of wild animals.

Dr. Amte's two sons also contribute to the project, which was begun 32 years ago. The Amte tradition continues.

Year 2004 - 2005 Awards

Naina Kidwai

Ms Naina Kidwai needs no introduction ,she has done India and Indian Woman proud with her achievements as dynamic Leader in the Indian Corporate world. Many women in corporate India consider her as a role model.

Currently Managing Director and Vice Chairman of HSBC Securities and Capital Markets India Private Limited. Till October 2002 was Vice Chairman at JM Morgan Stanley, and Head of the investment bank in India and the Morgan Stanley Representative on the Board of Directors. Till April 1999, was Head of the Investment Bank of Morgan Stanley, India where she helped start up the Investment Banking operations of the Firm in India, on joining Morgan Stanley in April, 1994. From 1989-991 was head of ANZ Grindlays, Investment Bank from 1991 to 1994 was head of Global NRI Services for the Bank and Retail Bank Western India.

Ranked 3rd in Asia by Fortune Magazine in their first ever listing of The World's Top Women in Business in Asia in 2000 and subsequently ranked in the top 50 Women in Business, internationally, by Fortune Magazine in their first such listing in 2001 and subsequently in 2002 and 2003. Listed by Time Magazine as one of their 15 Global Influentials 2002. Chairs various committees of Industry Associations, Member of the Governing Body of NCAER (National Council of Applied Economic Research), Director of the International Board of Digital Partners Foundation, USA (an International non-profit organisation to address the digital divide) and SEWA.

We acknowledge her achievements in putting India and Indian women on the Global Business Map and being such a strong inspiration . Ms Kidwai was presented the 'Mastek Spirit of Making a Difference Award' by Ashank Desai Chairman, Mastek.

Pravin and Priti Patkar

Pravin is clear that he cannot die peacefully if there is injustice happening around him and Priti does not wish to be born into the hell that prostitute children have to live in .

It is these selfish reasons that drive this bold couple to take up a fight against Commercial Sexual Exploitation and trafficking of children, underage girls and young women .

When they started over two decades ago they were ridiculed by the society for getting involved in this unpleasant issue . That is not all taking up this cause meant taking on organized crime and the mafia , as Pravin says "At times we were threatened with syringes filled with infected blood" but they were determined to carry on the fight ."For us from day one it has been an issue of rights and not merely of welfare"says Priti.

Their dream has resulted in 'Prerna' a institution that works for actual and potential victims of Commercial Sexual Exploitation and Trafficking.

Mastek stood up to applaud the courage and conviction of this determined couple to make a difference to one of the most oppressed sections of our society. They were felicitated in the presence of the entire Mastek team by 'Mastek Spirit of Making a Difference' award on 13th Sept 2003.

Kishor Kher

Kishor Kher is disturbed by the plight of school drop outs from weaker section children in Mumbai ,"We hear about criminals being shot by the police , what makes these individuals take to criminal activity ? If school drop outs are not taken care of they will get lured into crime , it is a issue that the society has to face " he was not convinced by the amount of work being done in this area "No one is really bothered with these school drop outs , there is not enough government attention and also not many NGOs are involved , I decided to make this the mission for my life".

Kishor Kher is disturbed by the plight of school drop outs from weaker section children in Mumbai ,"We hear about criminals being shot by the police , what makes these individuals take to criminal activity ? If school drop outs are not taken care of they will get lured into crime , it is a issue that the society has to face " he was not convinced by the amount of work being done in this area "No one is really bothered with these school drop outs , there is not enough government attention and also not many NGOs are involved , I decided to make this the mission for my life".

Kishor Dreams of replicating this model through the city of Mumbai . Kishor was handed 'The Mastek Spirit of Making a Difference Award' on 13th Sept at the Mastek Monthly meeting.

Sanjay Bapat

When Sanjay Bapat was asked to address the Mastekeers at the Mastek Monthly meeting , he started by remaining silent for 1 minute . There was a uncomfortable feeling in the audience as Sanjay just looked around , when he finally spoke he blurted out cold facts, he said "This one minute that we were quite we have lost five girl children in India" the audience was stunned to silence as he kept on sharing some more statistics on very important issues that most of us are not even aware of .

Sanjay finds it difficult to sleep because he knows that there is a lot to be done, and every moment counts, and that is the reason why he gave up a comfortable job with a advertising firm to set up a portal 'indianngos.com' . This portal is the first of it's kind in India that connects NGO's, Volunteers and Corporates . The information that is available through this portal is supporting many corporates to plan their Corporate Social Responsibilities, this also supports individual volunteers to understand issues and choose the cause they would like to support.

Sanjay Bapat received the 'Mastek Spirit of Making a Difference Award' on 3th Sept 2003.

Yatish Rajawat

When Yatish Rajawat wrote to Executive Editor of e-week asking him to take a different perspective on Indian software industry , he was taking a stand against the back-lash for off shoring to India. This was not his brief but then again Yatish has always stood up for Indian software sector through his columns . And he did manage to make Eric of e-week to change his stance on Outsourcing to India. This is a small milestone and that will help India to have US media on its side.

"We have a great opportunity for India with the IT Industry and we should not miss this" says Yatish . He is one of the few technology journalist who has a in-depth understanding of the Indian IT Industry , not surprising , that he won the Madhu Valluri award for "IT journalist of the year".

Mastek Acknowledges Yatish Rajawat's passion for making a difference to Indian IT.

On 4thJuly Yatish Rajawat was presented the award ' Mastek Spirit of Making a Difference' by Ashank Desai the Chairman and Managing Director of Mastek at a simple function at it's SEEPZ office.

Mastek continues to be inspired by Individuals like Yatish Rajawat who go beyond the call of their duty and make a valuable difference.

Rajat Shail

Rajat Shail talks about 'meaningfulness' a thought that is very dear to him " I do not want every one to leave their jobs and be involved in charity, but deep down whatever you do there has to be some meaningfulness, and that can drive organizations and teams as well," coming from a 26 year old freshly graduated IIT student this stops you.

When Rajat saw a close friend who was handicapped struggle for being independent he was moved, "It is the question of dignity of the individual, they do not seek sympathy and do not want to be a burden on their family," but he found that the current wheel chairs had a problem "She had to be picked up by her parents if she had to move from the wheelchair, also she could not use most of the public places such as cinema theaters as they had steps." Most people would have stopped there but Rajat took up the wheelchair that could climb steps as his project at IIT.

The Result was the Ascender, a wheelchair designed to navigate stairs and it is affordable "It would cost anywhere between Rs 10,000 to Rs 15,000 which is much cheaper than the imported models which cost a few lakhs" says Rajat. He has currently applied for patent for his invention, though that does not matter so much to him "I would be happy if anyone would copy my invention, at least the handicapped people will benefit".

Mastek Acknowledges the Spirit of Rajat to Make a Difference

Mastek invited Rajat Shail to Mastek on 2nd August 2003 to receive the award 'Mastek Spirit of Making a Difference'. The event was, 'Mastek Monthly Meeting' where over one thousand Mastekeers cheered as Rajat Shail was given the award by Ashank Desai, Chairman and Managing Director of Mastek.

We at Mastek continue to be inspired by individuals such as Rajat Shail who demonstrate the true spirit of 'Making a Valuable Difference'.

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The Mastek Foundation nurtures an open culture, where everyone is free to approach the management with suggestions and solutions.

-Prashant Bhatt

For more information, you may write to us at,
mastekfoundation@mastek.com