Vidarbha stalwarts Bangs, Pantawane, late Ramteke honoured with ‘Padma Shri’

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 21 Mar 2018 10:20:58

Gangadhar Pantawane and Sampat Ramteke 

Staff Reporter,

The work of four stalwarts of Vidarbha finally got recognised when they received coveted civilian honour ‘Padma Shri’ on Tuesday at New Delhi. Internationally renowned healthcare missionaries Dr Abhay and Dr Rani Bang, messiah of Sickle Cell patients late Sampat Ramteke, and veteran Dalit litterateur Gangadhar Pantawane are amongst the awardees.


Known for revolutionising healthcare for the poor people, Dr Abhay and Dr Rani Bang are social activists, and researchers working in the field of community health in Gadchiroli district. The work they have done in public health has been recognised internationally when World Health Organisation (WHO) and UNICEF endorsed their approach to treating newborn babies and the programme is currently being rolled out across India and in parts of Africa.

The couple founded the Society for Education, Action and Research in Community Health (SEARCH), a non-profit organisation involved in rural health service and research. For the last 32 years, the couple has not only been providing health care to the tribal population but has also been working on reducing their health related issues. In 2003, Maharashtra Government had honoured the couple with ‘Maharashtra Bhushan’ award. The couple has to its credit several awards and honours.

Another awardee late Sampat Ramteke, hailed from a small village in Chandrapur district. He had worked as Superintending Engineer in Western Coalfields Limited (WCL). Later, moved by the plight of Sickle Cell patients, he dedicated his life for the cause of their welfare. He founded Sickle Cell Society of India (SCSI).

Ramteke is instrumental in spreading awareness about this disease in illiterate patients living in rural part of India. Since last 26 years, he is fighting for the people with SCD and because of his efforts the patients have received various facilities from the state as well as central Government. It was because of constant efforts of Sampat Ramteke, patients with SCD were included under Rights of Persons with disabilities Act 2016 (RPWD). Ramteke successfully pursued the matter of SCD patients to the Government. He was the only social worker who told Government that every sickle cell patient had at least 60% disability in the body and 50% was the basic criteria for the benefits given to the disabled people. So all sickle cell patients must be provided with benefits under ‘Rights of persons with disabilities (RPWD) Act, 2016’.


Maharashtra Medical Council (MMC) member from city and President of Thalassaemia Society of India Dr Vinky Rughwani expressed that he had never seen such an enthusiastic activist.

Veteran Dalit litterateur Gangadhar Pantawane is the fourth person from Vidarbha to whom ‘Padma Shri’ was announced on Thursday. Born on June 28, 1937 in Nagpur, he began writing since childhood. He did his BA and MA from Nagpur College, Nagpur. He contributed to ‘Yugavani’, ‘Sushama’, ‘Veena’, ‘Manohar’, ‘Rohini’ etc. He taught for 15 years in Milind College, Aurangabad, and later at Marathwada University for 20 years as Professor and Head of the Department of Marathi. In 1968, he started a literary journal ‘Asmitadarsh’, which transformed Marathi Dalit literature into a widespread movement. He has been organising Asmitadarsh Sahitya Sammelan. He has to his credit 27 publications comprising his celebrated works ‘Muknayak’ biography of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar, ‘Halagi’, ‘Smrutishesh’, ‘Dalit Sahitya — Charcha aani Chintan’ etc.