Provided medical aid to a boy’s father during Jalgaon riots

It was the year 1970. Jalgaon was wreathing under the fury of riots. Smt. Pratibha Patil, who was the Deputy Health Minister at that time. She swiftly based herself in Jalgaon and worked overtime to alleviate the plight of the victims. ‘No one should die for want of medical aid’ seemed to be her only anxiety. Amidst all this chaos, a visibly shaken boy approached her car. Crying inconsolably he narrated the precarious position of his father and his financial inability to get himself treated. Smt. Pratibha Patil responded instantaneously; called for the Civil Surgeon and directed him to give the best possible treatment. With God’s grace and timely help the boy’s father convalesced well. This little boy, under the loving care and support of his father, grew up to be a renowned consultant.

Saved the life of a boy sustaining bullet injuries during Jalgaon riots

An innocent child was a victim of the lawlessness which prevailed during Jalgaon riots. He sustained bullet injuries which, the doctors felt, could be fatal. The vigilant Smt. Pratibha Patil, on being informed of the child’s condition, reacted with utmost urgency; she mobilized the boy from Jalgaon to Mumbai and constantly monitored his case in order to make certain that he was given uninterrupted medical aid. This made all the difference; the child survived the attack. The boy who was treated by an orthopedic surgeon at that juncture, grew up to become Dr. A.S Chandanwale, presently serving as the Head of the Department of Orthopedics in Grant Medical College & Sir J.J. Group of Hospitals, Mumbai, he gratefully reminisces the fresh lease of life which Smt. Pratibha Patil gave him in his childhood.

Spend time with the bereaved families affected by drought in Edlabad during festival time

Edlabad was going through a drought and there were casualties all around. Smt. Pratibha Patil decided not to celebrate Diwali – no sweets, no lights, no crackers; instead she resolved to spend maximum time with the bereaved families sharing their angst and wiping their tears. The day after Diwali was ‘Bhai Dooj’, a festival which celebrates the bond between brothers and sisters. Being the only sister, Smt. Pratibha Patil generally spent the festival with her brothers. She decided to forgo this happiness and spend the day sharing the grief of her brothers in Edlabad.

Helped the workers of Vijay Textile Mills gain back their jobs in Badnera

In Badnera, there was a factory by the name of ‘Vijay Textile Mills’ which was no longer economically viable. Its machinery had become obsolete and closure was imminent. Modernization was a prerequisite if it had to be made operational. The year was 1975; the workforce was on hunger strike and Smt. Pratibha Patil, who was a Minister during those days, was distressed on hearing their stories. At around the same time the then Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi, came to attend the Centenary Celebrations of the Nagpur University. The official function was followed by dinner; noticing that Smt. Pratibha Patil had not picked up a plate, Indira Gandhi prodded, “What happened, you’re not taking anything?” Smt. Pratibha Patil replied empathetically, “I feel guilty in eating these delicacies when the mill workers and their families in Badnera are denied even one square meal.” Smt. Pratibha Patil on the insistence of Indira Gandhi, briefed her in detail about the depressing condition of the workers of Vijay Mills; she also requested her if the Commerce Ministry in the Centre and the Minister for Industrial Development, Dr. Subramaniam, who was also there in the function, could be directed to take a sympathetic view while deciding the future of this mill. Indira Gandhi immediately caught hold of Smt. Pratibha Patil’s hand and led her to Dr. Subramaniam. Smt. Pratibha Patil narrated the entire story to him and reiterated her earnest request to solve the problems of the mill workers. At her instance, the mill which had been declared a ‘dead mill’ was redefined as ‘sick’ and thus granted a fresh lease of life. The mill was resuscitated and taken over by the National Textile Corporation. The workers got back their source of income and the families their ‘smile’.

Helped the workers of Achalpur Textile Mill gain back their livelihood

Smt. Pratibha Patil voiced her concern about the workers of the Achalpur Textile Mill. A decision had been taken to shut down this mill; Smt. Pratibha Patil was a Member of Parliament at that time. She made attempts to interact with the National Textile Corporation and the Union Labour Minister to resurrect the mill, but in vain. It pained her profoundly that she could not give back livelihood to those whose life hinged on this textile mill. Eventually when she got an opportunity to be the President of the country, she revitalized this issue once again. Resultant to her genuine efforts the mill is functional under the banner of the Finlay Group.

Helped under-privileged with financial benefit schemes

During 1973, Maharashtra was braving severe droughts and the Vidarbha region was especially affected. Smt. Pratibha Patil was a Minister in the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly at that time. While returning to Mumbai, after one of her regular official inspections, she halted at the Manmad Guest House for the night. Manmad is a small town which neither fits the definition of a city nor can be categorized as a rural area. A group of thirty women came and made an earnest plea to meet Smt. Pratibha Patil. Despite time constraint she conceded to their request. One amongst them was extremely vocal, “Since Manmad is not a village the famine relief fund does not reach us. We are also not entitled to work as labourers as we are not in a city. We are being deprived of the welfare measures being taken for the drought-stricken by the Central and State Governments. You must do for women like us. We are being subjected to severe financial crises.”
It was this revelation which inspired her to conceptualize and give shape to the ‘Mahila Arthik Vikas Mahamandal’ at a later date. It was a Corporation Smt. Pratibha Patil visualized for the benefit of the under-privileged women, like those in Manmad, who could have access to finance to set up their own enterprise if they so desired.
There were several impediment to be traversed; numerous queries had to be answered in the Legislative Assembly before this Corporation was eventually considered. It was because of her perseverance that Vasantrao Naik, the then Chief Minister, constituted a Cabinet Sub-Committee under the chairmanship of Vasantdada Patil, with Smt.Pratibha Patil as one of the members, for examing the issue at length. After immense persuasion, hours of discussions and debate the ‘Mahila Arthik Vikas Mahamandal’ was instituted on an experimental basis. Its success lies in the fact that after its implementation and validation in Maharashtra it was emulated in other States as well. Smt. Pratibha Patil also stood up for the cause of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. It was her foresight and constant persuasion that Mahatma Phule Corporation and Anna Bhau Sathe Corporation were formed for financing these communities and those into menial jobs.

Initiated The Industrial Training School for the Blind in Jalgaon

During Smt. Pratibha Patil’s tenure as the Social Welfare Minister, she had regular dealings with the visually dealings with the visually challenged and was often required to address the ‘National Association for the Blind’. After every interaction with these special people she remained disturbed for quite some time; their vulnerability and difficulty in handling their disability, nagged her end.

The Industrial Training School for the Blind in Jalgaon is an outcome of her commitment.

Selfless, generous and spontaneous bestowing of her own Shawl to an elderly woman on a chilly day

Smt. Pratibha Patil was travelling from Amravati to Jalgaon along with some party workers. It was chilly; an elderly woman in tattered clothes was sitting on the railway bridge and shivering. The group of people accompanying Smt. Pratibha Patil, totally oblivious of aged destitute, was walking past her when suddenly Smt. Pratibha Patil halted. She walked up to this woman, spontaneously took off her shawl, covered her and resumed her discussion.

Provided housing tin roofs to the poor and helped people get treated at De-addiction centres

During the Third Assembly Elections in 1972, Smt. Pratibha Patil’s victory was amply evident because of the credibility she had established for herself in that area. She had ensured housing for the poorest of the poor. Larger number of brick houses with tin roofs, were provided to the homeless. One poor person from the backward community was propped up to stand against Smt. Pratibha Patil for elections. Prior to the commencement of the electioneering process a lady, who was the wife of this contestant, came to meet Smt. Pratibha Patil. Weeping uncontrollably she said that her husband, in a fit of drunkenness, had sold the tin sheets in order to pay the deposit money for the elections. She requested Smt. Pratibha Patil to get his candidature cancelled so that he would not squander more. She had immense regards for Smt. Pratibha Patil and did not want her husband to contest against her. But Smt. Pratibha Patil indicated her helplessness, “it would be unethical to obstruct a fellow opponent in any way.” After winning the elections Smt. Pratibha Patil did not forget the distressed pleas of the wife, she got her husband treated at a de-addiction centre and also requested the Deputy Collector in charge to get the tin roofs of his house replaced. Smt. Pratibha Patil also referred to various de-addiction centres in Pune and Delhi on the request of their wives and children.

Helped Shekhar release on parole for his father’s funeral and to perform the final rituals

Shekhar, son of Kusumtai Sonalkar (a Congress Party worker), had also opposed Emergency implemented by Indira Gandhi because of which he had been detained by the Government of India under the MISA (Maintenance of Internal Security Act). Unfortunately, Kusumtai lost her husband quite unexpectedly. Shekhar was, at that time, in the Nasik jail. Smt. Pratibha Patil, who was a Minister for Public Health and Social Welfare, used her good offices in getting Shekhar released on parole so that he could attend his father’s funeral and perform the final rites.

Provided justice to the women doctor who was harassed by a senior officer

When Smt. Pratibha Patil was a Deputy Minister of Health in Maharashtra she ensured that, as far as possible, the Primary Health Centres in the rural areas were headed by women doctors; this was to reduce the embarrassment and discomfort of women in these neglected locales. In one of the Primary Health Centres a lady Doctor had been posted after much persuasion; appreciation for her work was flowing in from all quarters. One day she came to meet Smt. Pratibha Patil and complained about the harassment she was subjected to at the hands of a senior officer who had gone for inspection. Smt. Pratibha Patil made discreet inquiries and on being convinced about the correctness of the complaint, broached the case with the then Chief Minister and mitigated her problems.

Raised voice during the Zero Hour to protect the modesty of women

Smt. Pratibha Patil was intolerant of actions which dented or worsened the prestige of women in society; the vulgar display of women in movies and advertisement plagued her mind and perturbed her no end. In 1995 when Smt. Pratibha Patil was the Member of Parliament, she decided to get all women MPs together to collectively stand up against this brazen projection of womanhood. On one eventful forenoon Smt. Pratibha Patil stood in the ladies room near the Central Hall of Parliament. As and when the women MPs, irrespective of their party lineage, visited the wash rooms she asked them to stay back till there was a large congregation. Thereafter she brought about a consensus; prepared a memorandum and presented the same to the then President, Dr. Shankar Dayal Sharma, along with ‘all party women Parliamentarians’; this was in turn forwarded to the Minister of Information and Broadcasting. On the insistence of the women Parliamentarians Smt. Pratibha Patil raised the issue during the Zero Hour on 8 March 1995 on International Women’s Day. Her address was vehemently supported by one and all.

Provided solutions to war widows’ problems

As Governor of Rajasthan, when Smt. Pratibha Patil was once returning from a function she noticed a group of women waving helplessly to attract her attention. The local police on duty were attempting to contain them. Smt. Pratibha Patil could see the urgency in the eyes of these women and directed her driver to stop the car. She discovered that they were war widows who were being victimized because of the prevailing regressive practices in that area. On returning back to the Governor House, she called for a list of all the war widows in Rajasthan, wrote as many as 1200 letters personally and on receiving the replies, tried to pursue each case to finality.

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