Name - Dr. Bharatendu Prakash
Position - Director
Organization - Bundelkhand Resources Study Center Convener of Vigyan Shiksha Kendra
DOB - January 1943
Place - Madhya Pradesh
Some people are born with a cause, a life purpose, to enhance other people’s life. Dr. Bharatendu Prakash is one such person who dedicated his life to improving the lives of rural people near his village Banda in Uttar Pradesh. In his sojourn of more than four decades, he did a lot for the transformation of science education involving rural schools and villages. He worked towards the betterment of life for the rural population. He is a source of inspiration for the youth who want to take the road less traveled and do their bit for society. Let us explore some snippets of his life to motivate people to follow his path, his mission.
Dr. Bharatendu Prakash was born in the Banda district of Uttar Pradesh, where his ancestors had been the zamindars since 1568 A.D. He lived a happy, care-free life in the village till seven years of age when his mother passed away. Ever since then he had a turbulent and uncertain life with shifting to different schools and finally attaining a Post Graduation (M.Sc.) in Chemistry from University of Allahabad. He continued to complete his Doctorate degree, D.Phil from the same university and took up a job as a lecturer in Chemistry there itself. However, his desire to conduct higher research motivated him to move to IIT Kanpur as a Post-Doctorate Senior Research Fellow. His main aim was to transform science education in the country and build a conducive scientific attitude and environment in Uttar Pradesh Dr. Bharatendu wanted to develop appropriate science & technology in the villages with a good technology-delivery system. He aimed to inspire and motivate scientists, educationists and people in the administration to initiate rural development work towards strengthening village rooted development processes.
Dr. Bharatendu had a cushy job at IIT Kanpur, where he also met his wife Shobhana and enjoyed marital bliss. However, looking at the pass outs from this illustrious organization leaving their country and work in first world countries in Europe and the US, upset him. He wanted to do something for the people of India and so he decided to make a complete shift in his career and life. He went back to his village and set up a voluntary organization Vigyan Shiksha Kendra and registered it as a society.
environment and promoting natural resources’ conservation in the entire Bundelkhand region (U.P. & M.P.) of central India. They got support from many people in the field of science, education and administration who worked with them full-fledged. Slowly and steadily their family of helpers increased gradually and so did the scope of their work.
Though social work seems glorious and well-meaning, there are a lot of hiccups along the way. Being at the helm of affairs and starting a venture like this has its share of problems, which one needs to take cognizance of. For Dr. Bharatendu, it was tough to get funding for all the projects. It needed a lot of effort to convince people and the system about the social work he was doing and the benefits the society could reap out of it. There was a lot of opposition from a major section of the society whose selfish interests were being hit due to their work. It resulted in damaging the workplace and a lot of property.
However, the challenge is to overcome all these obstacles and learn from them. That is precisely what the team at Vigyan Shiksha Kendra did. They set immediate goals that were short term in nature and tried to fulfill them slowly and steadily. So for anyone looking to join this field of work should set out with some immediate goals and then think about long term ones. For Dr. Bharatendu the immediate requirements were to: Introduce science education in children by promoting learning by doing process. Organizing & strengthening poor peasants, village-youths and women through self-reliant training and productive employment programs. Increase people’s awareness towards the conservation of nature. Developing respect for Indian traditional knowledge & technologies, and organizing tribal and village-based traditional healers and artisans. Popularization of sustainable organic farming & organizing farmers’ training. Overall rural development programs without harming the environment.
Getting into social work means a colossal upheaval of both personal and professional life. Hence, it needs mental and physical preparedness for the same. Dr. Bharatendu adds, “There are numerous occasions in life when one faces serious disappointments. There is no guarantee that all your plans will end in success. This is the time when your own mental preparation and positive thinking help you to come out with no despair and adopt other ways to go ahead.” So his advice is to first do some volunteer work in such fields of work. He notes,“ If you want to learn how to understand the appropriate way and line of working and possible challenges at no personal cost, it is better to work as a volunteer with some organization with similar or same objectives for some time.” Having appropriate certifications in scientific education, social transformation, people’s awareness generation, rural development and environmental conservation would also be of great advantage. Besides the courses, Dr. Bharatendu feels, “You should study various schemes of the relevant Government departments and Non-Government Organizations supporting agencies which can help one to work towards fulfilling his/her objectives through various programs/ projects.” Another essential must-have is to be abreast of the latest happenings in the field of social work. One needs to collect information about myriad initiatives taking place in this area of work and then meet important people related to them to understand their working style. Giving his personal example, Dr. Bharatendu said, “As far as our work was concerned I along with my wife visited many places in India to meet the head of several social, educational and technological organizations in State of Uttar Pradesh along with Bihar, West Bengal, Orissa, Assam, M.P., Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. We interacted with the teams of workers and met the organizations’ beneficiaries, which gave me a clear idea how to go ahead. We also participated in many international conferences and meetings to get a global perspective and also gain visibility.” Giving his secret recipe for success, Dr. Bharatendu said, “Our solid commitment towards working on set objectives without any selfish interest throughout our journey of the organization so far is one biggest factor. Another equally important factor has been my wife Shobhana’s full-hearted support in the entire journey of voluntary social work. We worked like one unit and that multiplied our impact on society as well as administration.” All the enthusiastic social reformers who want to make a mark in this field should take a leaf out of Dr. Bharatendu Prakash’s book. His indomitable spirit, dedication to the cause, and unrelenting support from family, have helped enhance rural development programs. He is a true Indian who felt the need to give back to the society from where he learnt everything.