When we look into the lives of staunch social workers, it becomes clear that without the full support of their family, it wouldn’t be possible to reach the heights of success in the field of social service that they are presently on today. More than anyone else, when a wife dedicates her services, support and contribution and accepts all struggles and difficulties of this life with silent grace, she sets an exemplary example for all.
One such example was Kasturba Gandhi, whose life is an open book for all. There are many examples as to how her simplicity, forbearance and dedication towards the contribution of Mahatma Gandhi made his endeavors possible.

In his own words, Mahatma Gandhi said, “If I express my feelings and love for my wife, I express my feelings and love for the Hindu religion. More than any woman in this world, my wife has influenced me the most”.

Kasturba married Mahatma Gandhi at the age of 13. Gandhiji wanted to see his wife as an ideal wife. She couldn’t receive a very good education in her childhood. Under the guidance of Mahatma Gandhi, Kasutrba Gandhi acquired some knowledge of gujrati. While Gandhiji was gone to a foreign country for his law education, Kasturba learnt her lessons of forbearance, simplicity and a simple disciplined life. When she had to accompany her husband to South Africa, she gave her full support to him in all happiness and sorrow. In his autobiography, Gandhi Ji states, “All the sorrows I have given to my wife due to my stringent lifestyle and the torments I’ve made her go through; I will never be able to forgive myself for that.” She was an axiom of forbearance, perseverance and self-respect.

After returning to India, when Gandhiji began his “Champaran Movement”, he assigned the job of managing the cleanliness of the village and to give strength to the villagers to “Ba”.  Kasturba went to each house and showed a new way of living life to the females of the house who were living in poverty and destitution.

Kasturba was the source of inspiration for all ashram workers and dwellers. During the satyagrah movement, she roamed around all the villages, giving life to the movement and showing the right path to all destitute, disheartened and desultory villagers and took care of the ashram. Following the example of her husband, she gave three instructions to the citizens. Firstly, she asked all men and women to boycott foreign clothes. She asked all females to accept using charkha and learning to make cotton thread as their duty toward nation. Lastly, she implored all traders to stop buying foreign clothes.

She spent a decade of her life in the sevagram. During the 2nd world war, she supported Mahatma Gandhi’s revolution. When he went to jail with his fellow workers, Kasturba Gandhi decided to organize a meeting in the Shivaji Park the same day and was also arrested for that. When Gandhiji’s right hand man, Mahadev Bhai passed away and Gandhiji sat down for his 21 days fast, Kasturba was tormented and sorrowed. Due to a disease of her heart, her kidneys failed and she also suffered an uncontrollable bout of Pneumonia. 22nd February, 1944 was the last day of ‘Ba’. Gandhiji was grief-stricken with inconsolable sorrow and wrote, “ Kasturba’s life of simplicity and perseverance is unimaginable. She was an inseparable part of me and with her death I have now such emptiness in my life that can never be filled”.
Endeavoring in all kinds of difficulties in her life,   Kasturba played her role as an ideal wife till the last breath of her life working for the constant benefit of all.

We all notice and value the efforts and contributions of men who work for the upliftment of the society. We award their contributions and acknowledge their efforts. But the contributions and silent perseverance of the woman behind them are rarely noticed or acknowledged. Putting light on this and trying to value their contribution and honoring them, Bhagirathi Seva Pranyas founded ‘Kasturba Gandhi Seva Puraskar’.

Some key points about Kasturba Gandhi Seva puraskar are:

  1. This award is given on a national level each year to a woman.
  2. This award is given to a woman who has given her full support to all the endeavors of her husband in social service.
  3. Even those nominations are considered who have themselves played a significant role in social service.
  4. Self-nominations for the award are not accepted.
  5. Selection of awarded is done without any discrimination on the basis of color, caste, religion or region. It is mandatory for the awarded to be of Indian nationality.
  6. The award includes a cheque of Rs. 51,000, a memento and a commendation letter.
  7. The decision of the selection committee is final and no objection is acceptable.
Vimla Bahuguna:
Daughter of an environmentalist, Vimla Bahuguna is married to Sundarlal Bahuguna, who is a world-known figure in environment conservation. Dedicated to social service, she walked shoulder-to-shoulder with freedom fighters, Shree Buddhisagar and Shree Vidyasagar Nautiyal and brought forward an exemplary example of social service, sacrifice and determination.

Also, her contribution in the ‘Bhudan Yagya’ of Sant Vinoba Bhave is another feat she accomplished.
Her immense contribution to Chipko Movement started by her husband, Sundarlal Bahuguna, is analogous to the life of Kasturba Gandhi and her contribution, faith, undivided dedication and sacrifices for the causes of social welfare by her husband, Mahatma Gandhi.

Her work in the field of education, environment preservation and forest conservation is worthy of ovation and deep respect. She has set an unparalleled example of social service and for her immense contribution to the causes of her husband and social welfare, ‘Bhagirathi Seva Pranyas’ awards her with ‘Kasturba Gandhi Seva Puraskar’ with a feeling of deep respect, gratitude and honor.