Persons in News 2017

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Goldman Environmental Prize for Prafulla Samantra

Social activist Prafulla Samantra was announced one among six winners of the Goldman Environmental Prize for his “historic 12-year legal battle that affirmed the indigenous Dongria Kondh’s land rights and protected the Niyamgiri Hills from a massive, open-pit aluminum ore mine.”

The other five winners for this year are: Mark Lopez (United States); Uroš Macerl (Slovenia); Rodrigo Tot (Guatemala); Rodrigue Katembo (Democratic Republic of Congo); and Wendy Bowman (Australia).

Prafulla Samantra is a trained lawyer and has been involved in activism since the Jayprakash Narayan-movement. He was an iconic leader responsible for rallying tribes in Niyamgiri region of Odisha and made use of legal provisions to block mining-to-metals conglomerate Vedanta from setting up a bauxite mine there. Samantara was the first citizen to use law to halt the mining operations of Vedanta. As a result of his efforts, the company has been forced to suspend mining of bauxite from that region.

In its April 18, 2013, historic judgment, Supreme Court empowered local communities to have the final say in mining projects on their land. Subsequently, village councils of the Niyamgiri Hills unanimously voted against the mine. In August 2015, Vedanta announced the closure of its aluminium refinery in that region.

Samantara is only the sixth Indian to win the prize after Medha Patkar, M.C. Mehta, Rasheeda Bi, Champaran Shukla and Ramesh Agrawal since 1990 when the award was first instituted.

Goldman Environmental Prize

The Goldman Environmental Prize was created in 1990 to honour grassroots environmentalists undertaking risk to their lives for the cause of protecting the environment. The award is given to six persons, one from six geographical regions of the world, namely,  Africa, Asia, Europe, Islands and Island Nations, North America, and South & Central America. The prize is given by Goldman Environmental Foundation having its headquarters in San Francisco. The prize is also called as the Green Nobel.


Sagar Baheti: India’s first visually impaired athlete to complete Boston Marathon

Sagar Baheti has become the first visually impaired Indian runner to complete the historic Boston Marathon. Bengaluru-based 31 years old Baheti completed a distance of 42.16 km distance in just over four hours. Supported by the Massachusetts Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired (MABVI), Baheti finished the 121st Boston Marathon as one of 30,000 runners. The 2017 Boston Marathon has been recorded as the second hottest marathon in a decade.

Baheti, a businessman by profession was diagnosed with Stargardt’s disease, a type of macular degeneration that eventually leads to blindness, in 2013. With his participation in the marathon, Baheti expects to raise $10,000 for MABVI, an organization that supports visually impaired persons by providing advanced low-vision devices.

Boston Marathon

Historic Boston Marathon is the world’s oldest, most competitive and the hardest marathon to qualify for. It is an annual event hosted in several cities in greater Boston, United States. It is always held on the third Monday of April. It is one of the six Marathon Majors held throughout the world.


Facts about Kempe Gowda

The President of India, recently, inaugurated the Kempe Gowda Festival organized by the Nadaprabhu Kempegowda Foundation in New Delhi.

Facts about Kempe Gowda

Kempe Gowda was a chieftain under the Vijayanagara kings and ruled over most parts of Karnataka in the 16th century. He was born in 1513 in a village near Yelahanka. The Vijayanagara kings bestowed the villages of Ulsoor, Begur Hobli, Varthur, Jigni, Kengeri and Kumbalgod among others upon Kempe Gowda.

According to historians, Kempe Gowda is a just and humane ruler and is widely accepted as the founder of Bangalore. He visualized a city with military cantonment, water tanks, temples etc, that provide employment to tradesmen. Subsequently, he approached the Vijayanagara kings for the approval and laid the foundations for Bangalore City in 1532. Kempe Gowda’s planned city had eight access gates and wide roads. He ensured that collection of revenue is just and equitable in the city.

Planned urban development of the Bengaluru city is a testimony to the capability of Kempe Gowda that even today despite unprecedented challenges of population, traffic and environmental pollution, Bengaluru remains as a Garden City. He ensured that collection of revenue is just and equitable.  He is also credited with building the Basavanagudi Bull temple, Ulsoor Someshwara temple and Gavi Gangadhareshwara temple, all of which are stronger even today.

In the 1550s, Kempe Gowda struck coins known as Pagodas. This act of his incurred the displeasure of the Vijayanagara kings and he was imprisoned for five years.

After an illustrious reign of three decades, Kempe Gowda died in 1570.