SERVICE TO THE POOR
Public health: This year, the prestigious Padma Shri award was bestowed upon Dr Ravindra Kolhe and Dr Smita Kolhe. They have been rendering exceptional service to the tribal people of Melghat, in Amravati district, one of the poorest regions of Maharashtra, for over 30 years. Known as the ‘₹1 doctor’ (for charging₹1 for providing medical treatment to the people of the region), Dr Ravindra settled in the remote Bairagarh village in 1985. Initially, he walked as much as 40 kms to reach the village. Thanks to the untiring efforts of the doctors, today, there are 13 primary health-care centres and two sub-district hospitals in the region. The infant mortality rate has also dropped from 200 to less than 40 now.
Battling corruption and facing physical assault, the Kolhes’ efforts have now spread to 200 of the 317 villages in Melghat. Hats off to these selfless souls!
A TRANSWOMAN BRIDE
Gender and Law: This April, the Madurai bench of the Madras High Court delivered a judgement stating that the term ‘bride’, as defined under the Hindu Marriage Act, 1956, could also refer to a transsexual person. Justice G. R. Swaminathan also directed the authorities to register the marriage between Arun Kumar and Srija, a transwoman, who had been denied a marriage certificate last year. It is hoped that this ruling will set a precedent for the future, thereby reducing the discrimination trans-gender people face, especially when it comes to their nuptial rights.
SAVING A LIFE
Humanitarian Aid: The Kerala government and the public came together to save a 15-day-old baby with a con-genital heart disease this April. The baby had to be urgently transferred from a hospital in Mangaluru, to Thiruvananthapuram, 600 kms away. The roads were immediately cleared to let the ambulance pass. Midway through the journey, the government decided to shift the baby to Kochi. Thanks to the excellent coordination among the police, ambulance driver and child-support team, the nearly 400-kms-journey took only five-and-a-half-hours. True heroism this!
Salute, Brave Journalists
Amidst the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar, two journalists, Wa Lone and Kyoew Soe Oo, uncovered a mass grave in Inn Din village in the northern Rakhine state. The Reuters journalists went on to gather testimony from witnesses and families of victims. What emerged was the shocking story of how 10 Rohingya Muslims were killed by the security forces on 2 September 2017. But before they could file the report, they were arrested in December 2017. This year, in April, they were awarded the Pulitzer Prize for their investigation. And last month, after more than 500 days in prison, they were finally released amidst international applause.