Medha Patkar

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Medha Patkar is a well-known Indian social activist who works on several political and economic concerns pertaining to farmers, Dalits, tribals, laborers, and women. Since an early age, she has devoted her life to social welfare, initiating and formulating various national programs to combat land acquisition, unorganized public sector workers, etc. She founded the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA), which has been operational for 32 years. The NBA movement advocates for the rights of those impacted by the Sardar Sarovar Dam project, which plans to construct dams across the Narmada River. She was also a member of the World Commission on Dams, which investigated the global social, political, and economic consequences of big dams. She has spoken out against casteism, communalism, and other forms of discrimination over the years. Together with other activists, she created the National Alliance of People’s Movement (NAPM) and filed public interest lawsuits against private real estate developers such as Hindustan Construction Corporation, Adarsh Society, and Hiranandani. Medha Patkar, a graduate of the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, is a brave social worker who has been regarded as the leader of the ordinary people for many years.

Youth and Early Life

Medha Patkar was born on December 1, 1954, to independence fighter mother Indumati and labor union leader father Vasant Khanolkar. Her father was a participant in the Indian Independence Movement, and her mother was employed by Swadhar, an organization that assisted financially disadvantaged women.

Medha Patkar devoted her time to social service at a very young age, inspired by her parents.
Prior to becoming a social worker, she earned a bachelor’s degree in science from Ruia College in Mumbai and a master’s degree in social work from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS).

She pursued her Ph.D. at TISS, where she researched the influence of economics on traditional civilizations. She was involved in the Narmada Bachao Andolan at the time she completed her M.Phil., preventing her from pursuing a D.Phil.

Medha Patkar’s Activism

Medha Patkar began her career working for charitable groups in the slums of Mumbai. After working for several organizations for five years, she began a three-year commitment to the well-being of Gujarat’s tribal districts.

She rose to prominence in 1985 when she founded the Narmada Bachao Andolan. She has participated in the movement with the participation of tribal people, laborers, farmers, fishermen, and others residing in the vicinity of the Narmada valley.

Scientists, academics, artists, and environmentalists who have questioned the undemocratic planning of dams and the unjust distribution of profits are also involved in the movement.

Medha Patkar questioned the strategy of linking rivers in India, which the government claimed was a measure to combat the country’s water shortage problems. Medha contended that the Sardar Sarovar Dam project would relocate more than 40,000 Narmada valley residents.

As the government had no rehabilitation strategy in place, a number of individuals supported her claim. In opposition to the construction of the Sardar Sarovar Dam, she fasted for 22 days before prevailing against the government.

Together with other activists, Medha Patkar created the National Alliance of People’s Movement in 1996. (NAPM). The alliance worked to achieve social justice, equity, and political justice for individuals. She formed the organization to combat tyranny and question the current development paradigm, which, in her view, favors only a subset of the population.

In 2005, Medha Patkar organized the Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan, which highlighted Mumbai’s housing rights battle. The campaign began in 2005 when the Maharashtra government razed 75,000 homes, rendering thousands homeless.

She also criticized the establishment of a Tata Motors factory in Singur that will produce Tata Nano automobiles. As a result, Tata halted the building at Singur and relocated its production to Sanand, Gujarat.
In 2007, she spearheaded a number of movements in Nandigram, West Bengal, to resist the forcible acquisition of land.

In Maharashtra, Hindustan Construction Corporation initiated a large project called “Lavasa” that has yet to be completed. Together with the inhabitants of Lavasa, Medha Patkar objected to this project on the grounds that it would consume an excessive amount of water intended for farmers. She also filed suit in the Supreme Court on behalf of the public interest against the project.

In 2013, she organized a new demonstration against the government’s decision to demolish thousands of Maharashtra homes. Despite the fact that the government had already evicted 43 families and relocated more than 200 individuals, the demonstration prevented further demolition. An investigation was done, however, a partial solution was provided. Consequently, the communities continued to demonstrate.

The Maharashtra Sugar Cooperative industry was the target of a second mass protest led by Medha Patkar. She accused the state administration of selling industry assets to politicians for pennies on the dollar.

Together with other campaigners, she contended that real estate magnate Niranjan Hiranandani had violated the law by constructing luxury flats in areas designated for low-cost housing for the poor. She also opposed the Kovvada Atomic Power Project in Srikakulam, Andhra Pradesh, arguing that it would pose significant harm to the local ecology and population.

She also joined Anna Hazare’s anti-corruption campaign.
In January 2014, Medha Patkar entered politics by joining the Aam Aadmi Party, led by Arvind Kejriwal. She lost the Lok Sabha election in the North East Mumbai constituency, where she received only 8.9 percent of the vote. On March 28, 2015, she left the party.

Medha Patkar’s Recognition

Medha Patkar’s Narmada Bachao Andolan, through which she battled for the rights of Narmada valley residents, is well-known. The construction of the Sardar Sarovar Dam endangered the lives of thousands of individuals. Since 1992, the NBA has administered Jeevanshalas, a collection of Narmada valley schools.

Up to 5,000 students have already graduated from the schools. Over the past three decades, the NBA has continually worked in numerous fields, including health, environmental protection, employment, etc.

Awards & Achievements

Medha Patkar has received a number of honors for her tireless dedication to the welfare of the people. She won the Right Livelihood Award in 1991. She was awarded the Goldman Environmental Prize in 1992.

She also received the Green Ribbon Award for Best International Political Campaigner from the BBC in England in 1995, the Human Rights Defenders Award from Amnesty International in Germany in 1999, and the M.A. Thomas National Human Rights Award from the Vigil India Movement in 2002. (1999).

Other honors she has received include the BBC’s Person of the Year award in 1999, the Deenanath Mangeshkar Award in 1999, the Kundal Lal Award for peace in 1999, the Mahatma Phule Award in 1999, the Bhimabai Ambedkar Award in 2013, and the Mother Teresa Award for Social Justice in 2013. (2014).

Medha Patkar’s Criticism

Medha Patkar was condemned after she declined to join the protest against the Jaitapur Nuclear Power Project proposal in the Ratnagiri region of Maharashtra. Reportedly, she declined to join because the situation did not call for a protest at that time. She reportedly indicated that she had to rush to 20 states in order to participate in the Narmada Bachao Andolan, leaving her virtually no time to organize a fresh protest.

Estimated Net Worth

Medha is one of the wealthiest and most popular social workers in the world. According to our research, Wikipedia, Forbes, and Business Insider, Medha Patkar has an estimated net worth of $1.5 million.