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Honorary Doctorate, Emmanuel College, Kota
Dean's Convocation Speaker - October 7, 2009
"Since partnering with Rising Star, she has increased the micro-lending to include more colonies and more individuals, initiated the reconstruction of a residential home for leprosy affected people and been very instrumental in the creation of the new Rising Star Outreach Children's School and Homes."
- Rising Star Web Page http://www.risingstaroutreach.org/PadmaVenkataraman
(Rising Star Outreach is a Salt Lake City organization that works to
help Leprosy colonies become thriving, self-sufficient communities.)
Padma Venkataraman is the daughter of former India President R. Venkataraman. Venkataraman has long been a leading figure in India’s fight against leprosy and its resulting stigma. She now heads up all of Rising Star Outreach's micro-finance projects in the colonies; and as a member of the board of directors, takes an active role in the policy decisions concerning Rising Star Outreach's subsidiary organization in India. Rising Star Outreach seeks to help leprosy colonies “become thriving, self-sufficient communities.”
Prior to her partnership with Rising Star, Venkataraman lived for many years in Vienna, Austria, where she was, among other things, a permanent representative of the All India Women’s Conference to the U.N., member of several non-profit committees accredited to the U.N., such as the Committee on Narcotics, Committee on Disabled, etc. She was also vice president of the non-profit organization Committee on Women and President of the United Nations Women’s Guild.
In addition, Venkataraman was a founding-member of the Women’s Indian Association and member, later vice-president, of the Austro-Indian Association. She underwent a training course and worked to help mentally and physically challenged children in Vienna.
In India, she has been most active in grassroots work in leprosy rehabilitation for 15 years. She was honorary director of a FAO/All- India Women’s Conference Project for leprosy patients in the 4,000-strong Shahdhara Colony in Delhi and worked with HOPE WORLDWIDE to construct houses for 800 families there. For more than five years, she was honorary director of a major Tamil Nadu wide DANIDA-funded leprosy rehabilitation project under the auspices of the Women’s Indian Association, Chennai.
The provision of micro-credit to residents of 10 government rehabilitation homes and 31 colonies was the most innovative and successful component of the project. For a vulnerable and frustrated section of society accustomed to doles, new features were introduced; such as repayments being channeled into a revolving fund to ensure sustainability and augment available funds. The activities continued after the conclusion of the project under the auspices of WIA, with available funds.
Since partnering with Rising Star, she has increased the micro-lending to include more colonies and more individuals, initiated the reconstruction of a residential home for leprosy affected people and been very instrumental in the creation of the new Rising Star Outreach Children's School and Homes.
In the wake of the Tsunami disaster, Venkataraman has worked tirelessly for the livelihood rehabilitation of the people who fish for a living in selected sites through the repair of fishing boats and catamarans and the provision of fishing nets. Funds for this are provided by foreign donations to Women's India Association from the United States, particularly from Rising Star Outreach. Funds for micro-credit are also being made available by local banks.
In addition to her work with Rising Star, Venkataraman is currently the vice-president of the Women’s Indian Association, Chennai; a committee member of the Srinivasa Gandhi Nilayam; a trustee of the Global Cancer Concern, Delhi; a patron, Gandhi Peace Foundation, Chennai, etc. She also advises in an honorary capacity for HOPE Worldwide.
An economics graduate, her honors include awards by Women’s Indian Association, HOPE WORLDWIDE and an honorary doctorate from Emmanuel College, Kota. She is married and has two daughters.
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