San Ramon: Foundation presenting Indian 'smart village' leader

'A Dialogue with Dr. Vikas' set for Saturday

The San Ramon Arts Foundation in partnership with the East Bay Marathi Mandal, a community organization of the people from the state of Maharashtra in India, will host a public discussion with Indian social rights leader Dr. Vikas Amte this Saturday.

The event, moderated by Mayor Bill Clarkson, will run from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Amador Rancho Community Center, 1998 Park Loop Road in San Ramon.

Amte, a physician, social worker and rights activist, is from Anandwan (or "Forest of Joy"), a cooperative "smart village" in the state of Maharashtra, India, that was first set up his father, by the late Baba Amte, as a leprosy colony in 1951.

Baba Amte transformed a barren piece of land into a home for people with severe disabilities like leprosy, orphans and other destitute people -- a home which now shelters more than 2,500 people.

Dr. Vikas Amte is now expanding his father's vision to evolve Anandwan as a "smart village" and reproduce it in other parts of Maharashtra and India.

Amte and his son-in-law, Gautam Karajgi, have traveled to the U.S. to accept an award for "the most innovative project at village level" from the American Association of Energy Engineers earlier this week in Washington, D.C.

They will also travel to the Bay Area, Seattle and New York to meet other organizations to share their vision of the "smart village," learn more and obtain feedback, and establish collaborative partnerships.

For more information, visit the event webpage.

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