Dr. Hannumappa Sudarshan
Founder and Honorary Secretary- Karuna Trust
686, 16th Main, 4th T Block
H. Sudarshan was born in Yemalur on the outskirts of Bangalore in1950 and graduated as a doctor from Bangalore Medical College in 1973. He turned his back on the possibility of lucrative urban practice in favour of working with poor communities, and in 1979 he arrived in the B.R. Hills to work with the Soliga community.
Sudarshan has been Ashoka Fellow, Ashoka Innovators for Public, USA, Vice-President of the Voluntary Health Association of India, and a member of the Independent Commission on Health in India, the National Commission on Population, the National Nutrition Mission, the National Human Rights Commission, and the Indian Planning Commission’s Steering Group for the development of Scheduled Tribes. As Chairman of the Task Force on Health & Family Welfare he has brought out a comprehensive report to reform the health system of Karnataka. He has also been the Vigilance Director for the Karnataka Lokayukta, an ombudsman organisation.
He has received Right Livelihood Award (1994), the Parisara (Environment) Award from the Government of Karnataka (1993) and the Padma Shree Award from the President of India (2000), the Human Rights Award (2001), a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Public Health Foundation of India (2009).
Founded in October 1981 by Dr. Sudarshan, VGKK has worked with tribals in the Chamarijanagar district and Mysore district of Karnataka and also with tribals in the states of Tamil Nadu, Arunachal Pradesh and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and has interacted with about 20,000 people. The organisation has always had a tribal youth as its President. Jadeya Gowda, one of the first few children who was taught by Dr. Sudarshan, is the President. He did a graduation and post-graduation in agriculture and is doing his PhD at the University of Agricultural Sciences, Bangalore.
VGKK runs a 450 pupil school for the tribes of B R Hills where the students are provided education equivalent to that provided in the urban areas. Subjects related to the tribal welfare such as environmental issues, tribal values and culture are also a part of the curriculum. VGKK also has a vocational training institute where 16 crafts are taught. As a result of the efforts of VGKK, about 60% of the Soliga tribe now get a minimum of 300 days of employment per year from the Forest Department of Karnataka and other agencies. VGKK also has a system of co-operatives which employ the tribals directly and it has also made an effort towards sustainable extraction of non-timber products and creation of tribal enterprises to process them.
In 1986, Sudarshan founded Karuna Trust for integrated rural development through health, education and livelihood security. He and his health team have brought incidence of leprosy down from 17 per 1000 people to less than 0.3, hot water epilepsy has been controlled. The trust now focuses on strengthening primary health care through public-private partnerships in 6 states – Karnataka, Odisha, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalya & Rajasthan – where it runs 68 primary health centers, addressing gaps in these remote centers through its own innovations – telemedicine, health insurance and integration of mental health, to name a few.