Radha Bhatt – India

She is one of the 1000 women proposed fort the Nobel Peace Price 2005

Radha Bhatt – India

Radha Bhatt’s work in the picturesque but poor Himalayan foothills is a canny combination of progressive ideas and Gandhian ideals-and they have functioned wonderfully. She is working for the Kasturba National Memorial Trust (KNMT), which received NGO Consultative Status (II) by the UN.

This Instutute of Social Studies Trust ISST, has conducted over the years several pioneering research studies, with a view of designing alternative development strategies that recognise the role and contribution of vulnerable groups, including women.

From protesting against the raw deal uneducated women in the Uttaranchal Himalayas are handed out to become one of the best known social and political activists in the country – that has been Radha Bhatt’s journey over the past 70 – odd years. Along the way, she has tackled alcoholism among men in Uttaranchal, the empowerment of women, the Chipko (tree-hugging) movement, open mining on the fragile Uttaranchal highlands, and has been part of the nationwide protest against big dams.

She is part of the trainers of the first workshop organised by Friends of Tibet (INDIA) on ‘Non-Violence & Social Action’ (Rangzen Workshop Series) with the theme: ‘Non-Violence, Spirituality and Community Action’ by Radha Bhatt. She is part time teacher at the Bhavan Institute of Indian Art and Culture. And she gives also courses in workshops of organic farming.

The Hunger Project’s Work in India – Chair Radha Bhatt: The Hunger Project has been working for some time in the Anjani and Amvar villages of the extremely remote tribal district of Mandla.

In Anjani village, the council has formed a women’s organization for health, education and income generation. At the Amvar cluster of villages, the council is working with the people to gain access to water and a market road. As there are virtually no voluntary organizations in this district, the field work is being carried out in partnership with the Madhya Pradesh Institute of Socio-Economic Studies, and is focusing on improvements in delivery of health and education services.

One of its extreme disadvantages has been the lack of any access road. The villagers have to travel on foot for at least 10 kms on a muddy track to reach the market for the purchase of basic items or even to gain access to any kind of transport system. The Hunger Project brought the district collector and the block development officers to this area, and they immediately sanctioned a road to be constructed, which is now complete. Recently, the first steps were taken to expand SPIA into five additional blocks in partnership with five highly respected NGOs in those areas.

The Union Minister for Environment & Forests Shri T.R. Baalu presenting the Indira Gandhi Paryavaran Puraskar-1994 (Award)to Smt. Radha Bhatt for outstanding contribution in the field of Environmental Protection, forest conservation and reclamation of mined land, at a function in New Delhi on September 19, 2000.

Radha Bhatt, dedicated to the Gandhian vision, lives out spirituality as a much needed source of nourishment in her daily life. She runs Lakshmi Ashram in Kausani in Uttar Pradesh, India. “Gandhiji wanted this institution set up,” she explains, “to awaken the hidden shakti of hill women, I came here as a young girl to study. Now, I teach girls from remote villages.

She says: “The day begins with a morning prayer and spinning. The schoolgirls spin as they pray together. Then there are classes and practical work. Satyagraha (upholding the truth) and sarvodaya (the upliftment of all) involve integration of the various elements of the self—the spiritual with the mundane.” For Bhatt, this is a family, connected by bonds deeper than the blood ties.



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