Dr Anil Awachat is a medical doctor, author, poet, artist, wood sculptor, film maker and social counselor. He runs the Muktangan Mitra, a public charitable trust founded by him and his wife in 1986. The trust has supported over 20,000 substance users to make their journey to deaddiction. He has written 26 books in Marathi. He has been awarded many awards including the Maharashtra Rajya Puraskar for the Best Book of the Year in the section of Creative Prose for 3 consecutive years by Government of Maharashtra, the Priyadarshni Award – 1989, the Dalit Mitra Award - 1989 (By Government of Maharashtra), the Fie Foundation Award, S.V. Kriloskar Award, Sahitya Parishad Award, Jayantrao Tilak Smruti Puruskar - Kesri Maratha Sanstha, Pune - 2007 and Samajik Nyay Puruskar - Justice Ramshastri Prabhune Pratishthan - 2007.
Meera Sanyal is the Chairperson and Country Executive of RBS N.V., India leading over 12,000 employees across 24 cities in India. Meera has mentored the bank’s extensive MicroFinance program that finances over 650,000 women in rural India. She chairs the bank’s Foundation overseeing projects dealing with Sustainability, Poverty alleviation and Climate change. In April 2010 Meera stood for elections to the Lok Sabha as an Independent candidate form South Mumbai. She has been awarded the Woman banker of the Year award by the Indian Merchants Chamber in 2006, a Karmaveer Puraskaar, a national people’s award instituted by iCongo, a countrywide confederation of NGOs, for her work in social development in 2008 and Woman of Substance Award by the Rotary Club in January 2010. She speaks fluent English, Hindi, Bengali, Sindhi and French, and conversational Russian and German, She has also studied Mandarin and Japanese.
Nehha Bhatnagar is a Bharatanatyam dancer and a disciple of her Guruji, Padmashri Dr. Saroja Vaidyanathan’s. She has a degree in International Relations from the Knox College, USA. She is passionate about the notions of ‘soft power’ diplomacy through our classical dances. This summer, she toured the Ivy League Colleges in the US, giving talks on this notion of cultural diplomacy. She has also been actively engaging diplomats and various Embassies in showcasing and discussing Bharatanatyam. A regular performer at noted auditoriums in Delhi, she recently performed at the Opening Ceremony of the Commonwealth Games 2010. Nehha is also working to use dance to bring dignity and self-respect to the under-privilaged.
Dr Rajendra Singh, also known as the Waterman and Raincatcher, won the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Community Leadership in 2001 for his pioneering work in water management. He is the founder of an NGO called Tarun Bharat Sangh. The NGO has been instrumental in fighting the slow bureaucracy and has helped villagers take charge of water management in their area, through the use of check dams and other time-tested as well as path-breaking techniques. He is engaged in empowering, inspiring and supporting efforts across India to bring back the balance of climate, restore watersheds and their ability to cope with surplus or shortfall of rains and make communities self reliant in their water needs. He has been highlighting the weak link of watersheds in urban India resulting in the destruction or pollution of the sacred culture of water. He is currently undertaking a padyatra to restore the Ganges.
Prof. Sohan Modak is a Biologist-Biotechnologist and Educationist, practiced in Switzerland, U.S.A., France and India. He is a Polyglot and amateur observer of human behavior and Governance. He is also an innovator of applications to Molecular Biology, Teaching methodology and Communication skills in English for Scientists. He has over 80 original publications and treatises. He does extensive creative writing in English, Marathi and French.
Surendra Shroff is an entrepreneur industrialist and philanthropist. He also works with the NAB Lions home for aging blind Khandala and Dr. Sharadkumar Dicksheet Charitable Trust to save disabled children of the third world through plastic surgery. He is a charter member of Rotary Club of Pune Central. He is also engaged in helping the economically disenfranchised to find livelihood while doing good to the community and the environment.
Vijay Kumbhar took to journalism in1989 highlighting the problems faced by the hotel workers in the weekly Swaraj. He has been a regular columnist in Maharashtra Herald, Tarun Bharat, Sandhya, Aaj Ka Anand, Poona Digest and Manohar. From 1998 his activism about dereservation of public land in favor for the then Chief Minister’s son-in-law’s private needs has been making waves. Since 2002 he has used the Right to Information Act (RTI) to fight for justice, good governance and transparency. He is the founder President of Surajya Sangharsha Samiti an umbrella body for people who want to fight against corruption. He has organized national seminars of more than 150 RTI activists from 28 states including Aruna Roy, Anna Hazare, Arvind Kejariwal and Medha Patkar. He was recipient of the Sajag Nagarik RTI award 2008 and the Vocational Award For 2008 -2009 by Rotary club of Pune Central. He has lectured widely and conducted more than 350 workshops on RTI.
Vinita Deshmukh is currently the Editor of Intelligent Pune. Over her 21 years as a journalist she has built a reputation for persistent and tenacious follow-through of her stories. Using the Right to Information Act she exposed the irregularities and misinformation to license Dow Chemicals in Pune. Her expose grew into a major people's campaign that compelled the state government to halt the construction of the plant. Her book `To The Last Bullet' brings out Vinita Kamte's courageous story of taking on the establishment after her police officer husband Additional Commissioner Ashok Kamte was killed in action in the 26/11 Mumbai terror. Vinita has won the prestigious Statesman Award for Rural Reporting, twice - once in 1998 for her story on the Morachi Chincholi, the peacock village and in 2005 for her story on reverse migration in some villages of Maharashtra. In 2008, she won the esteemed Chameli Devi Jain Award for outstanding mediaperson of the year, for her Dow Chemicals exposure. In March 2010, she won the prestigious Top Management Consortium Award for excellence in journalism. Currently she is inspiring citizens to form ‘Area Sabhas’ to empower peoples programs with government participation.
Vinod Bodhankar is a Reiki Grandmaster, educator, social activist, envronmentalist, author, filmmaker and networker. He is the Founder of Namashyog, a Spiritual Practice to transform homo sapiens to cosmo sapiens, a 2 year training in Kundalini Shakti Yoga to be leaders for Rashtra Nirmiti. He is also the Director, Vishwasanskruti Sarvaanga Sahayog Center, Tulapur, a Trustee, Samartha Bhaarat Vyaaspeeth, Adhyaksha, Jalabiraadari - Pune District, Trustee, Jaladindi Pratishthaan, Executive Committee Member, National Society for Clean Cities, Pune, Patron Member, Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, Active Resource Person and Teacher in IEARN (International Education and Resource Network, New York, USA), Senior Vice President, Rollball Federation of India. Vinod networks citizens groups across the city to empower them to accomplish their visions. He is working to create a team of 20,000 volunteers in Pune who give 1 hour every week for the City.