SELF-DISCIPLINED & CIVILIZED CITIZENS
Padmashri Dr. Vitthalrao Vikhe Patil
A legendary in the history of co-operative enterprise in the country, and humble farmer by birth, pioneered co-operative movement as a tool for social, educational and economic up liftmen of the rural masses. His untiring efforts changed rural scene of Maharashtra and created awareness amongst the people to lead a prospective purposeful life. He was awarded Padmashri, the distinguished title in appreciation of his life’s work with co-operative movement, in the hands of the First President of India, Late Dr. Rajendra Prasad in 1961. He was felicitated with the honorary D.Lit. degree by University of Pune in 1978 and Doctor of Science in 1979 by Mahatma Phule Krishi Vidyapeeth, Rahuri. Padmashri Dr. Vithalrao Vikhe Patil, the pioneer of Sugar Co-operative movement, who had a humble beginning, was chiefly instrumental in, organizing the much exploited sugarcane ‘growers of the 44 villages, in and around Pravaranagar, way back in 1948, and establishing Asia’s first co-operative sugar factory, which was commissioned in 1950. Born in a farmer’s family at Loni in 1901, he was distressed by the pitiable plight of the poor, the illiterate and the downtrodden peasantry who were exploited by the money-lenders, feudal lords, and private sugar factory owners. In those days the local peasantry of Pravara area had to face difficulties in marketing of sugarcane, as conversion of sugarcane into Sugar was totally uneconomical and the “Jaggery Prices, reached the rock bottom.
The keel of Pravara Rural Education Society was laid by founder Chairman Padmashri Vikhe Patil in the year 1964. Pravara Rural Education Society is widely recognized as Rural India’s novel Education Society. Today it has blossomed into an ultra-modern and multidimensional education complex. It was Padmashri Vikhe Patil’s firm conviction that rural youth play dominant role in the nation building, if they were provided quality education. He also advocated that education of a women mean education of the whole family. He knew that the success of social transformation in rural area depended a good deal on gradual upliftment and active participation of the women folk. In order to accomplish these objectives, Pravara Public School, Pravara Kanya Vidya Mandir, the residential schools were established. Presently the Pravara Public School is adopted by Sports Authority of India for moulding future sportsman of national and international caliber. Bringing the girls for enrollment was an uphill task. Undaunted in spirit, Padmashri Vikhe Patil went from door to door motivating the parents; and to ease their financial constraints, he founded Late Mrs. Gangubai Eknathrao Vikhe Patil Trust. Similarly he introduced Earn and Learn Scheme to intelligent and needy students pursuing higher studies. Subsequently a chain of several institutions mushroomed in this Pravara region for providing education in Technical, Vocational, Medical streams turning the founder father’s dream into a reality.