Dr. Bhimrao Gasti, Belgaon | (Year 2008 )
Dr. Bhiao Gasti hails from Berad, a community branded as “criminal.” He sacrificed his well paying job as a chemical engineer to devote full time to help Devdasis. ‘Devdasi’ refers to women offered by their parents to the goddess Yallamma and deserted within the compound walls of a temple. They thus become orphans exploited in every way possible, some sexually. Subsequently many end up as prostitutes. Though banned by law, this tradition is practiced underground in back allies of several villages and towns. Dr. Gasti formed an NGO named Utthan (which means upliftment of downtrodden) to fight against this tradition and to rehabilitate these women.
Dr. Gasti provides them with vocational training allowing them to be self supporting and lead a meaningful life with dignity.
For the past 30 years, Dr. Gastihas been engaged in the upliftment of Berad-Ramoshi, the tribe in southern Maharashtra (Kolhapur ) the tribe has stigma from pre-independence era as being a criminal tribe and the Devdasis in northern belt of Karnataka. In the work related to Berad –Ramoshi tribe they organised the tribal people, educated them and gave them self identity. In the work related to Devdasis he appealed the govt. to look into their problems which resulted in a monthly pension allotment of Rs.500 along with housing facilities for them.
Dr. Bhiao Gasti also provides vocational training for Devdasi’s girls so as provide them employment. He has established an NGO ‘Uthan Sansthan’. To change the social scenario Dr. Gasti has devoted his entire life and because of his devotion his work bore fruits in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra