Ziad Medoukh, Gandhian from Palestine gets 40th Jamnalal Bajaj Award

Mumbai: Renowned Gandhian Ziad Medoukh of Palestine was Saturday conferred this year’s “Jamnalal Bajaj International Award for Promoting Gandhian Values Outside India”.

Besides, Shashi Tyagi, Founder and Secretary of Gramin Vikas Vigyan Samiti (GRAVIS) was chosen for “Outstanding Contribution in the field of Constructive Work”, Praveen Nair, the Founder-Trustee of Salaam Baalak Trust, New Delhi for “Development & Welfare of Women and Chidren”, while Delhi NGO Jan Swasthya Sahyog was named for “Application of Science & Technology for Rural Development”.

Presenting the awards here this evening, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley recalled the services of the late industrialist and freedom fighter Jamnalal Bajaj in whose memory the annual awards were instituted 40 years ago.

“The power of freedom struggle of Mahatma Gandhi was such that it inspired from every section of society to become a part of it. Ordinarily, one would consider members of society who had large businesses and industry to defend, to protect, to be reluctant to become part of this (Freedom movement).

“However, this was one relationship between Gandhiji and Jamnalal Bajaj in which a business leader had put almost everything at stake and sacrificed, not merely sacrificed but had most members of his family become activists in the freedom struggle, and many landed in jails.

“We have very few such examplesa If this kind of transparent relationship between those in public affairs and those in industry is recreated, probably its ability to inspire and contribute to society will be much higher,” Jaitley said.

Lauding the 2017 awardees, he said these individuals have worked in these different areas of work under extremely difficult and challenging circumstances.

“They are marginal people who don’t do it for any rewards or awards or the fame they got today. For them, its all incidental, they do their work for the deep sense of social commitment and leave their footprints in history. Theire contribution is most remarkable,” he said.

A staunch believer in democracy, freedom and human rights, Medoukh is researcher, professor and the Director of the French Department at the Al-Aqsa University in Gaza.

Known for his brilliant testimony of non-violence that he presents to his students, Medoukh is one of the prominent speakers for Palestine in French-speaking countries, participates and imparts training in non-violence to teachers and youth in Europe and Middle East.

In 2006, he and his friends founded a Peace Centre based on the principles of nonviolent Economy of Mahatma Gandhi which has played a crucial role in education as a form of non-violence resistance in Palestine.

Shashi Tyagi had in 1980 shifted with her husband from Banwasi Sewa Ashram in Uttar Pradesh to the Thar Desert in Rajasthan’s Jodhpur and launched various social-community projects covering people in 1,200 villages spread across Jaisalmer, Jodhpur, Bikaner, Nagaur, Jaipur and Barmer districts.

Mother of renowned film-maker Mira Nair, Praveen Nair established the Salam Baalak Trust in 1988 on New Delhi railway station, inspired by the film “Salaam Bombay” on the life of Mumbai streetchildren.

In 25 years, the SBT has grown into an institution employing 200 which provides support services to more than 8.500 children in Delhi NCR through 25 centres.

The Jan Swasthya Sahyog started in 1999 by a group of AIIMs post-graduates and health professionals addresses inequality in rural health care, clinical and community outreach programmes, to evolve low-cost technology for cheaper health care, etc.