1] Chetana Sinha
Chetana Gala Sinha is from farmers family from Mhaswad area in Satara District of Maharashtra. Originally she was from Mumbai but came to Mhaswad after her marriage. To help rural women like her she started Mandeshi Mahila Sahakari Bank from Mhaswad in 1997. When she approached for license to Reserve Bank of India the officers were not ready to believe on her Idea. She mobilized 1100 women and collected the mandatory seed capital of Rs. 6 Lacs. But today the Mandeshi Mahila Bank has branches in Maharashtra and Karnataka. She had introduced revolutionary concepts like door step banking where in a well equipped mobile banking unit ( Bus) set in a bus moves to the door of the farmers from rural area. She had also started a Business School and Mahila Udyog unit to help marginalized women from Rural Areas.
2]Dalimi Patgiri, Assam
Dalimi Patgiri was a poor women of Bhalaguri village from rural Assam. She got training of making utensils of arecanut leaves in Salem in Tamilnadu through a NGO she returned to her village in interior Assam and started efforts to start her own business. To collect enough raw material she formed a Self Help Group of women from her village and tried to provide them with live hood earning possibilities. But being from bodo community she faced strict resistance. The other women from her SHG rejected the idea of starting such unit. The bankers were initially reluctant to give her loan. Dalimi never bowed down before such pressures and started her own unit with a loan from Khadi and Village Industries Commission and SBI in 2007. Presently the unit is running with a reasonable turnover.
Sindhutai Sapkal was born in 1948 in Pimpri Meghe village in Wardha district of Maharashtra. Being unwanted girl child she was nick named Chindhi ( meaning waste piece of cloth in Marathi ). Her father a cow heard himself was keen on giving here education against the wishes of her mother but her mother as per the community tradition married her at the age of 10 to a cow heard. And at the age of 20 she had 3 children from that marriage. She successfully started an agitation against a village strongman who was exploiting poor villagers and in return was thrown out of her house by her husband. With a newly born child in hand she went to the house of her mother who refused to accept her own daughter. In such tragic situation she set aside the thought of suicide and started begging on Railway platform. Here she realized that there are so many orphans in this world and decided to give shelter to them. With determination to serve the orphans she gave her entire life in bringing up many orphans. At the last count she had nurtured around 1500 orphans. Her role as their mother gave her a title as mai ( mother ). Presently as ‘ Mother of Orphans’ she has around 250 son-in-laws, 50 daughter-in-laws and over 1000 grandchildren.
Saalumarada Thimmakka is born in Hulikal village in Ramnagar district in Karnataka. She could not get any formal education and worked as laborer in near by quary. She was married to a cattle herder from near by village. Though she wanted to have children but unfortunately she could not have any children out of her marriage. To compensate her desire of having children she started planting banyan ( Ficus ) trees along the road leading to the next village. She used to graft tree saplings and next year used to plant them along side the road. Out her meager resources she and her husband managed to spend on their tree plantation drive and also both of them physically watered the freshly planted trees. Every day she and her husband would carry heavy buckets for a back-breaking distance of 4 kilometers to water the trees. Both of them personally planted and grown 384 trees with an asset value of 15 Lacs. She was awarded Indira Priyadarshini Vrikshmitra Award, Karnataka Kalpvalli Award and many such awards.
Naseema Hurzuk was born in 1950 in Solapur. At the age of 16 she became paraplegic because her spinal cord was is a social worker from Kolhapur, Maharashtra, India. She works for handicapped people. She has founded a foundation named ‘Helpers of the handicapped, Kolhapur.. She completed her degree in economics and joined Department of Central Excise. She was promoted up to the level of Vice Superintendant. But she had a very strong desire help handicapped people and took voluntary retirement and devoted herself for the welfare of handicapped persons. She started vocational training center for handicapped persons in 1993.Then she started hostel cum rehabilitation center named as Gharonda in Kolhapur. She was awarded with numerous awards which include National Award by Handicapped Welfare Federation in 1986 & FIE award in 1996.
6] Kalpana Saroj
Kalpana Saroj was born in a dalit family in Roperkheda village in Maharashtra.She was married at the age of 12 years and shifted to Mumbai where she was living in a slum. Her in laws physically abused her and she escaped from the clutches of her husbands family with the help of her father. She came to live with her maternal family in a village. The villager ostracized her and she even tried suicide. To overcome that problem she again came back to Mumbai to live with her uncle where she started to work in a garment factory. With her desire to start own business she started a tailoring business and then started a furniture shop. She had great entrepreneurial skills in her and with that she acquired a company under liquidation. With her management skills she restructured the company and brought it back to Profit. She ventured in various businesses like real estate, film production etc. and was very successful in each of it.
The nation honoured this amazing woman with the Padma Shri.
7] Nauroti Devi ( the Sarpanch of Hardana )
Nauroti Devi was born in a poor Dalit family in village Harmada near Kishangarhof Ajmer district in Rajstan. She was working as stone cutter in near by quarry to earn live hood. She never went to school but by sheer determination she operated computer even teaches Government officers and other Sarpanch how to make best use of a computer in village administration. She become active member of Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sanghtan in 1981. Through that forum she participated in may movements and campaigns including the campaign for Right to Information. She had used the RTI Act for the benefit of oppressed and had given justice to many. She refused to bow down the pressure from the dominant Jat community and contested and got elected as Sarpanch of her village. In her five year term as Sarpanch she took path breaking decisions in the interest of the villagers. She resumed the land allocated for Government Health Center and got health center built on it. now the sarpanch of Hardma village, a land that has bred freedom fighters. She has visited China,Germany and USA and many other countries as part of various delegations.
8] Irom Chanu Sharmila
Irom Sharmila is born in Kongpal village near Imphal in Manipur state in1972. She grew up in Manipur and was involved in civil rights movement since her youth days. On 2nd November 2000 in Malom town of Manipur 10 civilians were shot dead and killed while waiting for a bus. The incident known a Malom Massacre was allegedly committed by jawans of Assam Rifles a paramilitary force. Sharmila who was only 28 years old at that time started Hunger Strike in protest and wowed not to eat, drink, comb her hair and to look in to mirror until the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act is repealed. She has been regularly arrested and released ever since her fast un to death has started. She was hospitalized many times and was persuaded to end her hunger strike but she kept her determination and demanded the repeal of Army Special Powers Act to end the excessive use of force against innocent civilians by the Army. She became famous internationally and now she is recognized as the ‘Iron Lady of Manipur’. Presently after 16 years she had ended her fast and has decided to fight a political battle for the benefit of people of Manipur.
Mayilamma a social activities belongs to a native tribal community in Kerala. She was native of Plachimada in Palakkad district of Kerala. The water in her well was heavily polluted and was not fit for human consumption because of the affluents released from the plant of Coca Cola company in the nearby area. Mayilamma created awareness in the local residents and was a key person in the fierce agitation launched against the Cola Cola Company for holding them accountable for water shortage and water pollution in that area. She forced the big giant to close down their bottling plant and the said plant is closed since 2004.
10] Sunita Bhagat
Sunita Bhagat is from Oyena village from Lohardaga District of Jharkhand. In 2002 she started first Self Help Group of Agriculturist women in her village. She managed to get loan for this group and could provide some live hood earning possibilities to the group. Encouraged by this experience Sunita decided to work for women from nearby villages. She encouraged more and more women to form such SHG and played a key role in such formation. She acted as a bridge between such groups and banks. Through a NGO she came in contact with Zarkhand Gramin Bank. The bank was willing to give loans and Kisan Credit Cards to uplift farmers but guarantee of repayment was the key issue. Sunita willingly acted as a bridge between banks and Self Help Groups. She not only helped for disbursing the loans but also acted positively in making the SHGs pay back the loans. She had helped women from 15 villages in forming SHGs and obtaining loans from banks and helped the banks in recovering the loans in time.