Medha Patkar, India's Iron lady with a heart of gold
Blog By Chithra Prabhakaran | Jul 27 2018

Medha Patkar is a well-known Indian social activist, who has dedicated her life to social welfare from a young age. She was born on December 1, 1954 to Indumati, a freedom fighter and Vasant Khanolkar, a labour union leader.

Before becoming a social worker, she completed her masters in Social Work from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS). She pursued her Ph. D from TISS, studying the impact of economics on traditional societies. However, she could not complete M. Phil as she was engaged in the Narmada Bachao Andolan movement, which was started against the construction of the Sardar Sarovar Dam in the Narmada valley, which would affect the tribal people, labourers, farmers, fishers and others living nearby. She fasted for 22 days and won the battle.

Medha Patkar founded the National Alliance of People’s Movement (NAPM) in 1996. The alliance worked towards attaining social justice, equity and political justice to people and to fight against oppression.

In 2005, Medha Patkar initiated the Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan to fight for the rights of slum-dwellers, in Mumbai. She also protested against the construction of a factory by Tata Motors at Singur.

When Hindustan Construction Corporation started a big project named ‘Lavasa’ in Maharashtra, Medha, along with the villagers of Lavasa, protested against this project citing that the project would use up excessive amount of water, meant for farmers.


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In 2014, Medha Patkar organised protests against the possession of the Sugar Cooperative sector by the corrupt politicians in Maharashtra. She opposed when property tycoon Niranjan Hiranandani started building luxury flats instead of building affordable houses for the poor in Mumbai, stating that rules were being violated.

Medha expressed a strong opposition towards the proposal of Kovvada Atomic Power Project in Srikakulam, Andhra Pradesh, citing that this project would pose a great threat to the environment.

She has received numerous awards for her tireless fight for the people, like the Right Livelihood Award in 1991, the Human Rights Defender's Award from Amnesty International and the Person of The Year BBC, in 1999, among several others.

Over the years, she has voiced against casteism, communalism and other forms of discrimination and her contribution to the Indian community is absolutely remarkable. She is truly an iron lady with a heart of gold.


Blog By Chithra Prabhakaran

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