The Jamnalal Bajaj Foundation was established in 1977, in the memory of Mr. Jamnalal Bajaj, a close associate and adopted fifth son of Mahatma Gandhi. It was inaugurated on 4th November, 1977 by Mr. Morarji Desai, Prime Minister of India. For Shri Morarji Desai, it was a time for remembering the past with fondness and nostalgia. He blessed the Foundation for what it set out to do for the spread of philanthropy and promotion of Gandhian philosophy, values and constructive work.
Humanitarian, freedom fighter, philanthropist, social reformer and a devoted Mahatma Gandhi follower, Mr. Jamnalal Bajaj was adopted as the fifth son by Gandhiji. He took an active part in the Indian freedom struggle, but his forte was constructive work propounded by Mahatma Gandhi. Jamnalalji also undertook pioneering work in the field of Go-seva (cow protection), upliftment of the dalits or the downtrodden, education of women, propagation of Hindi; spread and development of Khadi (hand spun and hand woven cloth) and village industries.
Since 1977, the Jamnalal Bajaj Foundation has been promoting Gandhiji's constructive programmes and honouring people who have aligned themselves with the Foundation's philosophy and causes. It continues to serve the ideals to which Jamnalalji had dedicated his life; and promotes the kind of Gandhian constructive activities, in which he himself was deeply involved during the lifetime.
For seventeen fruitful years, Shri Ramkrishna Bajaj, the younger son of Jamnalalji, was the leading light of the Foundation. After his demise, the Foundation found an able successor in Shri Rahul Bajaj who took over as its Chairman. From 1994 till February, 2022 the Foundation's activities were nurtured under the dynamic leadership of Shri Rahul Bajaj, along with a competent Board of Trustees. After the demise of Shri Rahul Bajaj, the Foundation handed over the reins to its new Chairman Shri Shekhar Bajaj, elder son of Shri Ramkrishna Bajaj, to take forward the legacy.
Over a span of 37 years, the Foundation has been respected as a Gandhian establishment in areas of developing the socio economic arena in our country. It strives to serve the ideals of Jamnalal Bajaj and promotes Gandhian constructive activities in India and abroad.
The Jamnalal Bajaj annual awards have gained unparalleled significance in its efforts to honour the exemplary achievers who have made noteworthy contributions to the society following Gandhian constructive work concept and Jamnalalji's ideologies. It has witnessed exponential growth in gaining prominence as well as eliciting active interest from remarkable individuals across the world. This resonates with the true ethos and philosophy of Jamnalalji’s altruistic principles and practices that have stood the test of time.
In a message on the occasion of the 1982 Jamnalal Bajaj AwardsPresentation Function, Smt. Indira Gandhi, Prime Minister of India observed: "In order to realize our hopes, the spirit of service must widely permeate our society. Of late, there has been a tendency to look to the Government for lead, whereas the inspiration should come from people of the kind that the Jamnalal Bajaj Foundation honours for their contribution to constructive work, the service of women and the application of modern and scientific knowledge to rural tribulations".
The Jamnalal Bajaj Foundation is also committed to the rural development activities especially in the Wardha district. In addition, the Foundation substantially funds programmes which facilitate economic development, health, hygiene and sanitation, child and adult education, women and child welfare and alternative use of natural resources. Of special significance is the Foundation's financial contribution to widows and children of farmers of the Vidarbha district who have committed suicide.