Ramaswami Balasubramaniam

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Ramaswami Balasubramaniam
Born (1965-05-04) May 4, 1965 (age 55)
EducationMPhil in Hospital and Health Systems Management at Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Masters in Public Administration at John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University

Ramaswami Balasubramaniam (Balu) is an Indian author,[1] public policy advocate, leadership trainer and activist,[2] known for his development work with rural and tribal people in Saragur of Heggadadevana kote near Mysore in Karnataka, India.[3] He founded Swami Vivekananda Youth Movement (SVYM), a development organization based in Saragur when he was 19.[2] After spending 26 years in development work among rural and tribal people, he pursued academic degrees in leadership, organisational development and public policy. He was the Frank H T Rhodes Professor at Cornell University between 2012 and 2014,[4] and continues to hold academic positions in other universities. His book I, the citizen is a compilation of narratives and reflections of a development activist and was released in 2015 by the Prime Minister's office.[5]

Early life[edit]

Balasubramaniam studied medicine in Mysore Medical College (SYVM). He was involved in volunteer and rural healthcare work during his medical college days. He founded the Swami Vivekananda Youth Movement in 1984 while he was studying medicine. The organisation was based on the ideals of Ahimsa, Satya, Seva and Tyaga.

Health and development[edit]

As part of SVYM, he set up and operated projects pertaining to preventive, promotive and curative health care, water and sanitation, behavioural change communication, reproductive and child health and HIV-AIDS for marginalized rural and indigenous tribal communities. Working with local tribal communities, he conceived and operated an Integrated Development model for their economic growth. Under his leadership, SVYM started schools and developed community based education programs that reached out more than 50,000 rural children in different parts of Karnataka State. He fought for the rights of the tribal people in the Heggadadevana kote area by petitioning the National Human Rights Commission and ensured successful resolution of their demands. In 2008, he coordinated a community-led movement for good governance using the Right to Information Act. As part of this movement, he walked 350 km through 120 villages and trained and interacted with more than 200,000 people exhorting them to use the RTI act as a tool for development.[6] In 2013, he conceived and led a campaign to deepen democracy and create awareness of electoral issues titled ‘Making Democracy Work’ in Mysore district.[7]

Public policy[edit]

He was appointed as the special Investigator for the Karnataka Lok Ayukta and was responsible for investigating complaints of mal-administration and corruption in the health and medical education sectors. In this position, he investigated issues related to corruption in the Public Distribution System between September 2006 to August 2011.[8] He has also served on many committees and panels set up by Karnataka and Indian governments on issues related to tribal development, health, environment, child development and governance. His appointed positions within India's government include seats on the country's National Tiger Conservation Authority and the National Rural Livelihood Mission.[2] He also is a mentor to Vision India Foundation[9], a delhi based think-tank working on public leadership amongst youth.

Other work[edit]

Balu conducts leadership workshops for private sector companies, NGOs, government officials and students.[10][11] He co-founded Vivekanda Institute for Leadership Development (VLEAD) in 2002, and Vivekananda Institute of Indian Studies (VIIS) in 2008, in Mysore. VLEAD offers training programmes in management, community development and leadership. VLEAD is also involved in various development research activities. VIIS facilitates the study, research, development and dissemination of Indian culture, spirituality, dance, music, art and philosophy, by offering customized courses to Indian and international students. In 2011, Balu founded a public policy research institute called Grassroots Research & Advocacy Movement (GRAAM).[12] It is located in Mysore.

In 2012, Dr. Balu was inducted to serve as the Frank H. T. Rhodes Professor at Cornell University, NY, USA, in recognition to his work in development, public policy and bridging gap between academic research and practice.[13] His blog on development and poverty elimination continues to be one of the prime source for students at Cornell University to understand the process of social and economic development from a grassroots perspective. His lectures and views of global citizenship are well recognized at Cornell.[14][15][non-primary source needed]

In 2015, Balu released a book based on a compilation of narratives and reflections of a development activist.[5] The book was crowd-funded and was released by an Indian Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office. Similar book launches were also held at Cornell University.[16]

Awards and recognitions[edit]

Balu was given the state youth award by the Government of Karnataka in 1988. He was honoured with the Paul Harris Fellow by Rotary International in recognition of his contributions towards social service in 2000. In 2003, the Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham awarded him the Jayendra Saraswathi Award for lifetime contribution to social work. In 2011, the Dainik Bhaskar group awarded him the India Pride awards for social development work. In January 2014, he received the Vivekananda Award for Human Excellence from the Ramakrishna Mission. In May 2014, the Society for Indian Medical Anthropology awarded him the Swasthya Seva Ratna Award for outstanding medical service to indigenous tribal communities. In 2015, SVYM was also awarded the India NGO of the Year Award by EdelGive Foundation.


1. I, the Citizen

Publisher: GRAAM. Published: September 2015

A book on citizen engagement and how citizens can get involved in development and policy issues affecting their lives. It is based on 30 years of experience of the author living and working in the tribal and rural areas of India.

2. Hosa Kanasu (New Dreams)

Publisher: GRAAM. Published: June 2014

A collection of articles written in Kannada on Development, Politics and Public Policy. These had earlier appeared as a fortnightly column in Praja Vani, Karnataka's leading Kannada newspaper.

3. Swami Vivekananda: As i see him

Publisher: GRAAM. Published: June 2014

A collection of short articles in English written by the author on Swami Vivekananda

4. The disease called Corruption

Publisher: Vismaya Publications. Published: November 2011

A book in Kannada language about corruption in India and the Jan Lok Pal bill. The book captures the salient features of the bill proposed by Civil Society and the impact of corruption in public services in India.

5. Swami Vivekananda: The benefactor of the Masses[edit]

Publisher: Ramkrishna Mission Institute of Culture, Kolkata. Published: March 2013

This chapter is part of the book titled 'Swami Vivekananda: New perspectives' and is anthology released as part of the 150th birth anniversary celebrations of Swami Vivekananda

6. Fighting Corruption : The Way forward[edit]

Publisher: Academic Foundation, New Delhi, Kolkata. Published: March 2013

Authored the Chapter titled 'Public Services, Citizen Engagement and Social Accountability

7. Swami Vivekananda: The Charm of His Personality and Message[edit]

Publisher: Sri Ramakrishna Math, Chennai. Published: July 2014

Authored chapter No. 17 titled 'Swami Vivekananda - The Prophet of Service

Authors: R Balasubramaniam (Balu), Swami Atmashradhananda

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "I, the citizen | GRAAM". graam.org.in. Retrieved 2016-01-01.
  2. ^ a b c Kelley, Susan. "International development expert named Rhodes professor". cornell.edu. Cornell University. Retrieved 24 January 2015.
  3. ^ History of Swami Vivekananda Youth Movement>[1]
  4. ^ Rhodes Professorship at Cornell University
  5. ^ a b PIB. "Dr. Jitendra Singh hails new genre of 'citizen-authors'". pib.nic.in. Press Information Bureau, Government of India. Retrieved 25 November 2015.
  6. ^ Unknown (October 1, 2008). "'RTI activities' reach a new high". The Hindu. Retrieved 24 January 2015.
  7. ^ Times News Network (December 20, 2013). "Awareness created to vote for the right candidate". The Times of India. Retrieved 24 January 2015.
  8. ^ Jayadevan, PK (August 11, 2011). "Technology to bring down corruption and leakages in public distribution system and other schemes". Economic Times. ET Bureau. Retrieved 24 January 2015.
  9. ^ "Team". Vision India Foundation. 2014-12-19. Retrieved 2019-07-09.
  10. ^ "Leadership workshops at VILD". Vivekananda Institute For Leadership Development. Retrieved 7 February 2015.
  11. ^ Balu's Profile on CIPA's Website
  12. ^ Balu's Profile on GRAAM's Website
  13. ^ Kelly, Susan. "International development expert named Rhodes professor".
  14. ^ "Dr. Ramaswami "Balu" Balasubramaniam discusses Cornell/ILR students as global citizens".
  15. ^ "Dr. Ramaswami "Balu" Balasubramaniam discusses SVYM partnering with Cornell".
  16. ^ "Book launch at Cornell". youtube.com. Retrieved 25 November 2015.

External links[edit]