Pune: It is with great pride, and that we announce Dr. Cyrus Poonawalla, Chairman and Managing Director of the Serum Institute of India, as the recipient of the distinguished Late Dr. Mohan Dharia Rashtra Nirman Puraskar for the year 2024.
This recognition is a testament to Dr. Poonawalla’s significant and invaluable contributions to national development, particularly in the field of public health through vaccine manufacturing. The award presentation will take place in a grand ceremony at the Balgandharva Auditorium, Pune, on the 14th of February at 4:45 PM.
Sharad Pawar, former Union Agriculture Minister, will personally bestow the award upon Dr. Poonawalla, in recognition of his tireless efforts and dedication to advancing healthcare solutions for the masses. The ceremony will be graced by the presence of former State Chief Minister, Prithviraj Chavan, who will preside over the event.
Special guests, Dr. Vedprakash Mishra, Chancellor of the Krishna Institute of Medical Sciences, Karad, will grace the occasion.
The announcement was made by Vanarai President, Ravindra Dharia on Friday, the 9th of Feb 2024. Marking another highlight, Dharia stated that this function will also mark the commencement of a yearlong celebration to commemorate the 100th birth anniversary of the late Dr. Mohan Dharia in February 2025.
The Rashtra Nirman Puraskar is conferred upon distinguished and senior individuals whose dedication and unwavering commitment have significantly advanced national development. Esteemed figures such as Dr. Raghunath Mashelkar (2014), Anna Hazare (2015), Dr. Jayant Narlikar (2016), Dr. Manmohan Singh (2017), Dr. M. S Swaminathan (2018), Dr. Anil Kakodkar (2019), Dr. Kasturirangan (2020), Dr. E Sridharan (2021), Dr. Madhav Gadgil (2022), and Union Minister for Surface Transport Nitin Gadkari (2023) have previously received this honour. The award comprises a cheque for Rs one lakh, a shawl, and a citation, symbolizing respect and acknowledgment of the recipient’s contributions. This initiative was envisioned by Vanarai’s Trustee Girish Gandhi, who has dedicated over a decade to nurturing this award program. Vanarai Foundation highlighted Dr. Poonawalla’s remarkable efforts in making vaccines accessible to the masses and his substantial impact on public health. Through his leadership at the Serum Institute of India, Dr. Poonawalla has played a pivotal role in safeguarding the health of millions.
“Dr. Poonawalla advocated Serum Institute’s Founding mission ‘health for all, through affordable vaccines’. Established in 1966, the Institute began its journey with the noble aim of manufacturing vaccines to protect citizens from various diseases. Today, it stands as one of the largest vaccine producers globally, credited with saving over thirty million lives through its vaccination efforts. The Serum Institute’s response during the COVID-19 pandemic proved particularly instrumental, offering significant relief not only to India but also to numerous countries worldwide. We are immensely pleased and grateful to recognize Dr. Poonawalla with this award for his exceptional contributions to the nation,” stated Shri Girish Gandhi. The ceremony will see the presence of Vanarai President Shri.Ravindra Dharia, Dr. Girish Gandhi, Nitinbhai Desai, Rohidas More, Ganpatrao Patil, Sagar Dharia, Secretary Amit Wadekar, Sameer Saraf, Anant Gharad, Dr. Pinak Dande, Ajay Patil, Nilesh Khandekar, Anil Rathi, Adv. Nishant Gandhi, along with the entire Vanarai parivaar.
Dr. Mohan Dharia, an individual remembered as a revolutionary, freedom fighter, policymaker, social reformer, environmentalist, and beloved leader, cast a lasting impact on both pre- and post-independent India. His contributions to the nation, characterized by visionary developmental initiatives, have left a permanent mark on our collective memory. Serving in myriad capacities—as a member of the Loksabha, the Rajyasabha, Union Minister, Vice Chairman of the Planning Commission, and the founder of Vanarai—over seven decades, Dr. Dharia embodied the essence of nation building, championing the principles of freedom, equality, brotherhood, democracy, secularism, socialism, and national unity. Beyond his role in Vanarai, Dr. Dharia was a pivotal force in transforming the lives of countless Indians through the establishment of self-help groups and spearheading initiatives in watershed development, reforestation, environmental conservation, and rural development. His pioneering scheme, ‘Gaon Ka Pani Gaon Mein, Khet ka Pani Khet Mein,’ aimed at drought mitigation, stands as a testament to his foresight and dedication to India’s sustainability. He was a clarion voice for the people’s movement for Afforestation, relentlessly striving to realize his vision of a ‘Sujalam and Sufalam’ India, until his last breath! Dr. Dharia’s leadership in creating a robust network of over 7,000 NGOs across the nation underscores his exceptional capacity to mobilize and inspire collective action. His life and work, honoured with the Padma Vibhushan, two D Litt degrees, and numerous prestigious national and international awards, reflect a monumental contribution to the nation’s welfare and progress. Through his exemplary journey, Dr. Mohan Dharia has forever etched a legacy of selfless service and unwavering commitment to India’s development and well-being.