NEW YORK — From India and Mauritius to Colombia, Sri Lanka, Israel and Bangladesh, there were words of praise for the international humanitarian work of the Bhagwan Mahaveer Viklang Sahayata Samiti, also known as Jaipur Foot.
Representatives of these nations, attending a May 15 panel discussion at the United Nations, said they were proud to be associated with Jaipur Foot which they said has given a much-needed boost to the self-esteem of people by improving the quality of life for the disabled.
Speaking at the panel discussion, India’s Permanent Representative to the UN Syed Akbaruddin said the BMVSS is a true example of work ensuring that “no one is left behind.” He praised the organization for its half-century of work. “While the technology behind such innovations has continued to improve, the 'Jaipur Foot' has provided much-needed assistance to those who are among the most affected and those who have very limited resources to seek the kind of assistance that is needed by them,” Akbaruddin said.
The discussion was organized by India’s Permanent Mission to the UN, along with the BMVSS and Jaipur Foot USA.
BMVSS founder Devendra Raj Mehta told the audience that the Jaipur Foot is the “epitome” of frugal or Gandhian engineering, which involves doing the maximum with the minimum. He said the organization is now focusing on the development of an affordable artificial hand. Jaipur Foot USA is helping the BMVSS in that mission in collaboration with the University of Santa Clara, Mehta said.
Attendees included Indian Council for Cultural Relations president and BJP Member of Parliament Vinay Sahasrabuddhe, Rajya Sabha Chief Whip Narayan Lal Panchariya, Consul General Sandeep Chakravorty and India’s former Ambassador to Kuwait Satish C. Mehta.
On May 14, at an event at the Consulate General of India in New York, Sahasrabuddhe praised the Indian-American community for its generosity, its sense of ownership, its sense of belonging and its sense of being indebted to the society.The event was “a festival of sensitivity,” he said, adding that “sensitivity is at the ethos of Indian culture.”Supporters and volunteers of the organization were recognized at the event.
In his introductory remarks, Jaipur Foot USA chairman Prem Bhandarisaid that so far the BMVSS has rehabilitated 1.7 million amputees and polio patients by providing free artificial limbs, calipers and other aids and appliances. Developed in 1970, the low-cost, light and mobile device costs about $60 a piece in India.An accident that Mehta had became a boon for the 1.7 million people who have received Jaipur Foot or other mobility aids because that incident made him empathize with those who have lost their mobility. It inspired him to start the Bhagwan Mahaveer Viklang Sahayata Samiti which provides the prosthetics, Bhandari told the gathering.
The group has also organized 66 camps in 29 countries including Africa, Latin America, and Asia, he said. The vision of the group is to ensure physical, economic and social rehabilitation of the disabled; to enable them to regain their mobility and dignity and become self-respecting and productive members of society, Bhandari said. He set up Jaipur Foot USA in 2014. Its parent body BMVSS was established in 1975 by former SEBI chairman and Reserve Bank of India Deputy Governor D.R. Mehta.
BMVSS and Jaipur Foot USA supporters praised Bhandari’s efforts in carrying the work of the Jaipur-based foundation and recognized Mehta for his leadership and pioneering humanitarian work. Donors came forward to speak of the satisfaction they derive from their involvement with the foundation.
Along with the donors and supporters, Jaipur Foot USA recognized the Indian-American media. Honors went to TV Asia chairman H.R. Shah; Suresh Venkatachari, India Abroad publisher, 8K Miles Software Services chairman and CEO and 8K Miles Media chairman; and India Abroad COO Rajeev Bhambri and and the Hindi-language daily Dainik Bhaskar, with headquarters in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh.
K.K. Mehta, Ashok Sancheti, Kanak Golia, O.P Chaoudhary, Rajiv Daga, and Dr. C.K. Bhansali were recognized for their donations to BMVSS.
An exhibition tracing the 50 years of the BMVSS was inaugurated in the UN Secretariat Building following the May 15 panel discussion.