LUMINARIES:Mother Teresa


Mother Teresa was born Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu in Skopje Macedonia, on August 26, 1910. Her family was of Albanian descent. At the age of twelve, she felt strongly the call of God. She knew she had to be a missionary to spread the love of Christ. At the age of eighteen she left her parental home in Skopje and joined the Sisters of Loreto, an Irish community of nuns with missions in India. After a few months’ training in Dublin she was sent to India, where on May 24, 1931, she took her initial vows as a nun. From 1931 to 1948 Mother Teresa taught at St. Mary’s High School in Calcutta, but the suffering and poverty she glimpsed outside the convent walls made such a deep impression on her that in 1948 she received permission from her superiors to leave the convent school and devote herself to working among the poorest of the poor in the slums of Calcutta. Although she had no funds, she depended on Divine Providence, and started an open-air school for slum children. Soon she was joined by voluntary helpers, and financial support was also forthcoming. This made it possible for her to extend the scope of her work. On October 7, 1950, Mother Teresa received permission from the Holy See to start her own order, “The Missionaries of Charity”, whose primary task was to love and care for those persons nobody was prepared to look after. In 1965 the Society became an International Religious Family by a decree of Pope Paul VI.

Today the order comprises Active and Contemplative branches of Sisters and Brothers in many countries. In 1963 both the Contemplative branch of the Sisters and the Active branch of the Brothers was founded. In 1979 the Contemplative branch of the Brothers was added, and in 1984 the Priest branch was established.

The Society of Missionaries has spread all over the world, including the former Soviet Union and Eastern European countries. They provide effective help to the poorest of the poor in a number of countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, and they undertake relief work in the wake of natural catastrophes such as floods, epidemics, and famine, and for refugees. The order also has houses in North America, Europe and Australia, where they take care of the shut-ins, alcoholics, homeless, and AIDS sufferers.

The Missionaries of Charity throughout the world are aided and assisted by Co-Workers who became an official International Association on March 29, 1969. By the 1990s there were over one million Co-Workers in more than 40 countries. Along with the Co-Workers, the lay Missionaries of Charity try to follow Mother Teresa’s spirit and charism in their families.

Mother Teresa’s work has been recognised and acclaimed throughout the world and she has received a number of awards and distinctions, including the Pope John XXIII Peace Prize (1971) and the Nehru Prize for her promotion of international peace and understanding (1972). She also received the Balzan Prize (1979) and the Templeton and Magsaysay awards.


The Magsaysay Award winner – Bezwada Wilson


The Magsaysay Award winner – Bezwada Wilson Fifty-year-old Bezwada Wilson, national convenor of the Safai Karmachari Andolan (SKA), was declared one of the six recipients of the 2016 Ramon Magsaysay Award by the Philippines-based award foundation, in Manila . Hailing from a Dalit family in Kolar, Karnataka, Mr. Wilson said his first brush with the local authorities over the abominable practice was in 1986-87, when he saw poor Dalit women cleaning human waste in the public latrines of Kolar Gold Fields. His own family members had been manual scavengers for generations.

“It was a big town, and in those days KGF was known to be the most electrified town after Tokyo,” he said. Yet, the town lacked public toilets with running water. Moved by the plight of the women who had to clean them every day, Mr. Wilson decided to petition the local town municipality to improve facilities. In 1986, he sent a complaint about dry latrines to the authorities and, when it was ignored, he sent the complaint to the Prime Minister, threatening legal action, the award citation notes. As a result, the town’s dry latrines were converted into water-seal latrines and the scavengers transferred to non-scavenging jobs.

Despite his 32 years of activism, Mr. Wilson says challenges remain in putting an end to the practice. “No thorough survey  has been conducted as yet to enumerate manual scavengers though State governments have been promising one since 2010,” he said. Expressing scepticism over the implementation of the government’s flagship Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, he said the scheme did little to address the plight of manual scavengers and only sought to build more and more toilets.

Mr. Wilson formed the SKA as a network of activists in 1993. A PIL he filed in the Supreme Court, naming all the States, Union Territories, and relevant government departments as violators of the 1993 Manual Scavenging Prohibition Act, produced positive results. In 2014, the SC ruled in his favour demanding that all States ban manual scavenging and even fixed a compensation of Rs. 10 lakh for families of scavengers who had died on the job.

“In 2014, we gave the Centre a list of 1,073 people who had died while cleaning sewers, but the families of the dead are yet to be compensated fully. Only 36 people from the families of dead sewer cleaners have been compensated, but they did not get the full amount prescribed by the court.

Jadish Lal Ahuja ( People Heroes Amongst us)


Jagdish Lal Ahuja has been serving free meals to the needy for decades. For the last 12 years, there hasn’t been a single day when Chandigarh’s Jag-dish Lal Ahuja hasn’t donated food outside the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) hospital. Every evening at 7 PM, the 77-year-old and his helpers lay out a wholesome meal of aloo choley, roti, rice. halwa and banana to feed the needy families that have to wait for long hours at the government hospital before consulting a doctor or receiving treatment. The idea of running this free service vice struck  Ahuja, popularly known as Babaji Langarwale, around 32 years ago on his son Girish’s eighth birth-day. “We would always celebrate his birthday with so much fanfare, but suddenly I started feeling that my real happiness lay in sharing it with the children of the labourers who toil at the sabzi mandi. I noticed those poor children used to go hungry for days,” says Ahuja. From then on, he instructed his family to organise a bhandara every year on his son’s birthday. After seeing the difference it made to their lives, he decided to convert it to a daily service. “I distributed food in the sabzi mandi and in some colonies every day till I met a gentle-man who told me that he donates rice to the relatives of PGIMER’s patients outside the hospital. I wanted to do something similar, so I started my langar there,” says Ahuja, who also serves outside the Government Medical College in the afternoon. Over the years, Ahuj a had gathered up to 20 helpers to cook the meals, but now the number is down to five as many have started branching out. “I hired people on monthly wages but when they got better paying jobs, I encouraged them to move on;” says Ahuja, who puts almost all the money he earns as a commission agent in the local fruit market to run this service. In times of crisis, Ahuja has even sold some of his property to raise funds, but never considered stopping the langar. Ahuj a credits his family with motivating him and keeping his dream alive even when he was battling cancer. One-and-a-half years ago, he underwent chemotherapy for which he was admitted at PGIMER. “My wife and daughter-in-law took charge of the langar for the eight days I was in hospital. That was enough to show me how committed they were to my cause,” he says, adding that even the rain gods have always encouraged him to keep strong. “It never rains around the time I start my langar. The whole city will be drenched but the areas in which I cook and serve remain totally dry!”

A PEOPLE HERO is one who is elevated from ordinary to extraordinary by actions which are both noble and inspirational. Jagdish Lal Ahuja has been avoided many  Honours  by the state government  Chandigarh Administrations    and  several other agencies  and organisations  of national repute.

-Reenu Bahal People Mag, April 20,2012

Social Worker- Dr. Saraswati Gupta

saraswati gupta

Dr. Saraswati Gupta

A dedicated worker, very energetic and agile, after retirement as professor from Punjab University, Chandigarh: Dr. Saraswati Gupta is presently working as the Executive Director of a voluntary organization- National Rehabilitation Institute. The position is honorary but Dr. Saraswati Gupta works full time for the disabled, specially the poor deaf and mute children. She also gives counseling and training to the caregivers of the children with different disabilities.

A Doctorate in Medical Sciences (Ph.D). Dr. Sarawati has worked as:

Senior Technical Officer, Panjab University, Chandigarh, Technical Assistant G-II, Panjab University, Chandigar and Junior Technician at PGIMER, Chandigarh in the fields of pharmacology, biotechnology and biochemistry.

Her motive is to train the caregivers of the disabled, specially children so that their parents, siblings, neighbourers and school teachers are able to provide support to such children, and empower them towards independence.

Profile and Interviews-Dr. Monica Singh-Professional Social Workers

Dr. Monica Singh, assistant professor with the centre for Social Work, Punjab University is a popular Social Worker, friend, and guide to the students of Social Work at the Punjab University. Dr. Monica Singh is pursuing D.Litt with the university of Bombay after her Ph.D. she completed her Master in social work from the university of Pune and Masters in Sociology from IGNOU. UGC NET cleared, she has completed B.ED also. Dr. Monica Singh has also taken certificates courses of IGNOU like Human Rights, HIV and Family Education and Guidance and counseling. She represents the center of Social Work, Punjab University on several committees and panels of the university, local Administration and various Govt. agencies.
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Chandigarh Ratan Award for PU Professor


Chandigarh Ratan Award was conferred on Dr Monica Munjial Singh Chairperson  Social Work Department, Panjab University Chandigarh today at the Conference of Intellectuals organized here at the GGDSD College Sector 32 Chandigarh. She was one among the 15 awardees who received this award for her selfless service to the underprivileged sections of the society in the tricity.