Dr. Ravindra Kolhe is a doctor and an Indian activist who has spent more than 35 years of his life improving the lives of people living in the tribal areas of Melghat, Maharashtra. Dr. Ravindra Kolhe is famous across the country as an “Rs. 1 doctor” as he charges Rs. 1 fee for his medical assistance. Dr. Ravindra Kolhe is working with his wife, Dr. Smita Kolhe to look after the tribal people and help them in leading healthier lives.
Dr. Ravindra Kolhe was born in the year 1962 (age 61 years; as of 2023) in Shegaon, Maharashtra. Ravindra Kolhe was the first doctor in his family and he finished his MBBS degree in 1985 from Nagpur Medical College. Dr. Ravindra Kolhe was a well-read man and he was inspired by the books of Mahatama Gandhi and Vinoba Bhave. Ravindra wanted to use his knowledge of medicines for a greater cause and that’s when he came across the book, ‘Where There Is No Doctor’ by David Werner. He decided to work in Bairagarh, a small village in Melghat, Maharashtra because the village had no medical facilities and a person had to walk 40 kilometers to reach the village.
Height (approx.): 5′ 5″
Eye Colour: Black
Hair Colour: Grey
Parents & Siblings
Dr. Ravindra’s father’s name was Deorao Kolhe. He was working in the railway department. There is not much information about his mother and siblings.
Wife & Children
Dr. Ravindra Kolhe got married to Dr. Smita in the year 1989. Dr. Smita Kolhe is a doctor specializing in Ayurveda and Homeopathy. They have two sons together – Rohit Kolhe (farmer) and Ram Kolhe (doctor).
Dr. Ravindra Kolhe finished his MBBS degree in the year 1985 from Nagpur Medical College. Dr. Ravindra Kolhe decided to contribute towards the upliftment of tribal people in Melghat, Maharashtra by providing them basic medical aid. However, before leaving for the village, he spent six months in Mumbai to learn some things that would come in handy while working in remote areas. He learned how to deliver a baby without proper facilities like a sonography and blood transfusion, how to diagnose pneumonia without an X-ray, and how to cure diarrhea. Dr. Ravindra charged a fee of Rs. 1 per patient as people in the village were poor. Ravindra Kolhe left the village in 1987 to complete his MD. For his MD, he prepared a thesis on the problem of malnutrition in Melghat and his thesis grabbed the attention of people from all over the world. BBC Radio came forward to cover the story on Melghat, which helped in bringing the village to everyone’s notice. Dr. Kolhe’s work with the tribal people helped him in reducing the infant mortality rate in the region from 200 per 1000 to 40 per 1000 and the pre-school mortality rate dropped from 400 per 1000 to 100 per 1000. People started coming forward with problems related to their cattle and fields so Dr. Ravindra Kolhe spent a year learning the basic anatomy of animals from a veterinary doctor. He also studied agriculture and farming from Dr. Panjabrao Deshmukh Krishi Vidyapeeth, Akola. With his knowledge, he developed a fungus-resistant variety of seeds and started farming using those seeds.
Awards and Honors
- In 2019, Dr. Ravindra Kolhe and Dr. Smita Kolhe received India’s fourth-highest civilian award, Padma Shri, from the President of India Ram Nath Kovind.
- When Dr. Ravindra Kolhe started searching for his significant other, he had four conditions. These conditions were – the girl should be willing to walk 40kms as this was the distance to be covered to reach Bairagarh. Second, she should be ready for an ‘Rs. 5 wedding’ (court marriages at that time cost Rs. 5). The girl should be willing to manage financially with Rs. 400 per month (his fee per patient was Rs. 1 and he had 400 patients every month). The last condition was that she should be ready to beg too if needed for the welfare of others. Dr. Smita agreed to all these conditions and married him.
- Dr. Ravindra Kolhe along with Dr. Smita Kolhe and his son, Rohit Kolhe, focused on the conservation of forests. They kept a track of the environment and the cycle of change in the environment that happened after every four years. The Kolhe’s could event predict drought and help the villagers to prepare for the same. The couple also included Public Distribution System in their farming and living techniques to make sure that farmers had enough food, even during rains. This made Melghat a suicide-free zone for the farmers.
- The couple’s battle for the upliftment of improving the lives of the tribal people paid off as the village finally has good roads, electricity, and 12 primary health centers. The couple now helps in taking their patients to the nearest government hospitals so that they get the best medical treatment.
- Dr. Ravindra Kolhe and Dr. Smita Kolhe appeared on the Karamveer special episode of ‘Kaun Banega Crorepati’ on 4 December 2020.