Ekal Vidyalaya Foundation (EVF), which describes itself as “the largest global organization dedicated to integrated village development in rural India,” was recently honored with India’s prestigious national award for social work.
On Feb.26, “Ekal Abhiyan Trust” (Ekal’s umbrella organization) was bestowed with ‘Mahatma Gandhi Peace Prize’ for 2017, for its contributions to providing education to rural and tribal children and for furthering gender social equality in remote parts of India.
This prize is conferred by the Government of India under the chairmanship of the Prime Minister, Chief Justice, leader of the largest opposition party and many others.
The ceremony took place at the ‘Rashtrapati Bhavan’ in New Delhi and attended by President of India, Ram Nath Kovind, who bestowed the award, as well as Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
On behalf of ‘Ekal’ the award was received by M.L. Jain, a senior trustee of ‘Ekal Abhiyan’.
This award includes a grant of Rs 1 Crore, a Citation and a Plaque to recognize the distinction.
Instituted in 1995 on the 125th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, the award aims at highlighting his concept of ‘Gram Swaraj Model’.
Prime Minister Modi, in his laudatory message to Ekal, commended the organization for its efforts to give educational opportunity to children in tribal areas and empowering rural women.
According to a press release from Ekal, the EVF has been supporting 82,000 Ekal-schools across rural-tribal pockets of India and educating close to 2.2 million children, more than half of them girls.
Apart from adult education classes related to healthcare and environmental-issues, Ekal also helps women prepare to run cottage-industries with skill-development training.
At this year’s “Pravasi Bharatiya Divas” in Varanasi, the founder of Ekal’s chapter in Australia, Nihal Singh Agar, was honored with the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award by President Kovind.
During the same event in Varanasi, Ekal’s Renu Gupta, who had been a board member and chairperson of Ekal-USA, and Dr Sudha Parikh, an ardent supporter of “Ekal Foundation” received ‘She The Change – Nari Udyami Award’ for their exemplary service to the community. The honor was given by ‘Beti Shiksha Foundation’ at an event presided over by the Governor of Uttarakhand.
On March 1, EVF founding member’, yoga guru Shyam Gupta was felicitated by Kurukshetra University with the Goyal Peace Prize for his work in spreading education in remote areas.
In the past, Ekal had been received several awards for its transparency of administration and innovativeness in its operation, including the Hewlett Packard & India Today “Trailblazer Award” for its digital initiative for the villages.
Last year, Prime Minister Modi gave a goal to Ekal Vidyalaya Foundation to establish 100,000 schools by the year 2022 – the 75th year of India’s independence.
“The way Ekal is rapidly marching, it is likely to reach that target way ahead of time in Yr.2020,” Ekal predicted in its press release.