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Our great country Bharat (India) has given birth to many great visionaries and philanthropists. One of them was Vithalrao Eknathrao Vikhe Patil, who was born on 29th August, 1901 in Loni, a remote village in Ahmednagar District of Maharashtra. The education, which was' scantly available then, was meant for elite classes during that period of British Raj. As such, Vithalrao Eknathrao Vikhe Patil was not fortunate enough to get much of schooling and followed the path of his fore fathers i.e. farming. The time passed and Vithalrao Eknathrao Vikhe Patil was through his intuition started thinking very deeply about is the problems faced by the poor farmers of this drought prone area. Through his intuition suitably blended with insight and farsight allowed him to acquire knowledge of a different kind and he visualized of co-operative movement. He started counselling the poor villagers going door to door around Pravaranagar to develop faith, confidence and optimism in their hearts and minds i.e. if all put together the resources movable and non movable can change the very scenario of this rural area.

He was supported by the like minded people and eminent freedom fighters such as Dr. Dhananjayrao Gadgil, Gopalkrishna Gokhale,
Balgangadhar Tilak and a few others.Their efforts brought good dividends and Vithalrao Eknathrao Vikhe Patil's dream came true in the form of Asia's first cooperative sugar factory at Pravaranagar which was established in 1948. The production of sugar started in 1950. A humble, poor, not so well-known person was soon recognized by people and the first Prime Minister of India, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru visited Pravaranagar in May, 1961 and lauded the work of Vithalrao Eknathrao Vikhe Patil. He was awarded Padmashri in 1962 and fondly with respect was addressed by people as "Padmashri". Since then, Padmashri did not look back. The sugar factory had many diversifications in its products area and irrigation also took a boost. He laid the foundation of Pravara Rural Education Society in July, 1964 followed by Pnivara Public School in August, 1964, Pravara Kanya Vidya Mandir in 1969 and Padmashri Vikhe Patil College of Arts, Science and Commerce in 1971. These institutions brought school and college education to the rural boys and girls at their door steps. Padmashri Vithalrao E.Vikhe Patil was later on conferred with degree of D.Litt. by University of Pune and D.Sc. by Mahatma Phule Agricultural University, Rahuri.
Padmashri had serious concern for the health of rural people and in 1972 Pravara Medical Trust was launched which has grown into a fullfledged medical setup.

Padmashri had a multifaceted personality and had highest degree of spiritual inclination. He was a torch bearer of Socio- Economic transformation of this entire area (in and around Pravaranagar). This great man of mother India left for his heavenly abode on 27th April, 1980. His mortal remains are laid at "Shaktisthal" in Pravaranagar. The deeds and accomplishments of Padmashri Dr.Vithalrao Vikhe Patil made him immortal and he is living and will live forever till the civilization exists and in the hearts of the generations to come. Padmashri's name will be written in golden letters in the history of our great country as pioneer of co-operative movement and for bringing about socia-economic, educational and cultural transformation of the villagers, and for giving a unique model of rural development to the country.

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