Indian philanthropist Rajashree Birla has been nominated for the prestigious 'Gandhi Mandela Award', to be held later this year, alongside other distinguished persons/organizations. In the year 2011, she was honoured with the the Padma Bhushan by the Government of India for her services to society.
Rajashree was born in 1948 in Madurai, Tamil Nadu, in a family which hailed originally from Rajasthan in north-western India. After completing her matriculation when she was studying at Fatima College in Madurai, with the encouragement from her husband and his parents, she enrolled at Loreto College, Kolkata and took a degree in Arts from the University of Calcutta. In June 1967, Rajashree became a mother with the birth of a son, Kumar Mangalam Birla. This was followed in June 1976 by a daughter, Vasavadatta. With the full support of her family, Rajashree completed her education and took a degree in Arts from Kolkata university.
As the Chairperson of the Aditya Birla Centre for Community Initiatives and Rural Development (ABCCIR), Rajashree oversees the charity efforts, development activities and community initiatives of the Aditya Birla Group, with the help of INR 1.6 billion, the Aditya Birla Group, spends on CSR activities, of which ₹ 400 million goes for educational activities.
After her husband passed away, Rajashree, as a tribute to her late husband, set up a 325-bed hospital, Aditya Birla Memorial Hospital, at a cost of US$ 30 million, in Pune, 2006. She also oversees the running of a healthcare initiative which conducts around 3500 medical camps a year, attending to reportedly 3 million patients. The initiative also conducts around 20,000 polio vaccines to children. Rajashree has also donated US$1 million to Rotary International for the eradication of polio.
The Gandhi Mandela awards will be given to personalities who have made significant contribution in the fields of Peace, Social Welfare, Culture, Environment, Education, Healthcare, Sports and Innovation.