Staff Reporter

VIJAYAWADA: “The timing of the announcement of this award is crucial, since it comes at a time when religious fundamentalism is raising its ugly head. The award is in recognition of Gandhian secular values,” said Lavanam, recipient of the Jamnalal Bajaj Award 2009, speaking to The Hindu soon after the announcement of the award on Monday.

“I am not alone in this task. My team and family members have been with me in the fight to usher in social equality. Gandhism and atheism are intertwined. You cannot tell one from another,” he maintained.

Mr. Lavanam was happy that he was the second member in the Gora family to be receiving this award in the ‘Constructive Work’ category.

His mother Saraswathi Gora received this award in the ‘Development and Welfare of Women and Children’ category (Instituted in memory of Smt. Jankidevi Bajaj) in 1999. “These are lifetime achievement awards and so most of the recipients are in their seventies when they receive it,” he pointed out.

Mr. Lavanam, who is in his late seventies, is a social activist. Son of atheist leader Gora, he married out of his caste and his wife, late Hemlatha, was also actively involved in welfare of women.

At a young age of 12, he took a plunge in social work under the guidance of his father.

Reformist

Besides being official interpreter of Vinoba Bhave during the latter’s padayatra for Bhoodan and Gramdan in Andhra Pradesh and parts of Orissa, he has done a commendable job of reforming criminal tribes’ settlements of Sitanagaram, Stuartapuram, Kavali and Kapparallathippa. The reforms were carried out in five different phases.