P. K. Gopal
Born13 May 1941 (1941-05-13) (age 82)
Alma materLoyola College, Chennai
OccupationSocial worker
Years activesince 1970
AwardsPadma Shri
National Rehabilitation Award
Erwin Stindl Memorial Oration Award
Best Social Worker Award
Wellesley Bailey Award
AIFO Award
Sumanahalli Life Time Achievement Award
Nippon Foundation
WebsiteOfficial web site

P. K. Gopal is an Indian social worker and a co-founder of International Association for Integration, Dignity and Economic Advancement (IDEA),[1] an international advocacy group,[2] known for his services towards eradication of leprosy, especially in India.[3][4][5][6] He was honored by the Government of India, in 2012, with the fourth highest Indian civilian award of Padma Shri.[7]


P. K. Gopal, hailing from a Sengunthar weavers' family, was born on 13 May 1941 in the Erode district of the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu.[3] He graduated in Economics from Erode and moved to Chennai to secure his master's degree in Medical Social Work, in 1970, from Loyola College.[6] While in college, he contracted leprosy and was treated for two years.[4][6] His career started by joining the Sacred Heart Hospital, Kumbakonam where he worked for 25 years. During his stint there, he is reported to have established a rehabilitation centre, known to be the first of its kind in India, for the leprosy-affected people of the region. He is credited with the rehabilitation of over 3000 such patients. The experience also helped him to do his own research in the area which earned him a doctoral degree from Ranchi University, in social science, in 1994.[3][4][6]

Gopal attended the Leprosy Conference held in Brazil in 1994, where the International Association for Integration Dignity and Advancement (IDEA) was formed.[4][6][8] In 1997, Gopal started IDEA India, the Indian arm of the global NGO, which is known to have rehabilitated 600 leprosy-affected people and provided education to over 6000 children.[3] The organization works for the socio-economic rehabilitation of the patients and on human rights related issues. Gopal has been associated with Yohei Sasakawa, the Chairman of Nippon Foundation, and together they are reported to have succeeded in passing a resolution at the United Nations Human Rights Council in 2003 towards ending discrimination against leprosy-affected people.[4] United Nations General Assembly adopted the resolution on 21 March 2011.[3] He is also credited with a 2006-07 survey, under the aegis of IDEA India, to identify and document the leprosy homes in India, a survey which brought to light 850 leprosy colonies in the country. He is also a collaborator of WHO on leprosy related issues.[3]

Gopal has authored a book, Guidelines for Socio-Economic Rehabilitation[3] on the rehabilitation of leprosy-affected people[6] and has published articles on the subject.[9] He is an elected member of the Medico-Social Commission[6] of the International Federation of Anti-Leprosy Associations (ILEP)[10] and the Technical Resources Group of the Director General of Health Services, a Government of India agency. He also serves as a board member of the International Leprosy Association,[11] USA[3] and is the president of the National Forum of Persons Affected by Leprosy.[4][5][12]

Awards and recognitions

During his tenure at Sacred Heart Hospital, Gopal received the Best Social Worker award from Loyoloa College, Chennai, in 1984.[3] Two years later in 1986, he was selected by the Government of India for the National Award for the Best Rehabilitation Officer.[3] The Erwin Stindl Memorial Oration award came his way in 1995, followed by the Wellesley Bailey award (London)[4][6] and the Associazione Italiana Amici di Raoul Follereau (AIFO) award (Italy) in 2001.[3] He received the Nippon Foundation award in 2004[4] and the FESCO award (Japan) was conferred on him in 2005.[3] The Government of India included him in the 2012 Republic Day honours for the award of Padma Shri, and the Sumanahalli Organization, Karnataka[13] followed the national award with their Life Time Achievement Award, the same year.[3]

See also


  1. ^ "IDEA Home". IDEA. 2014. Retrieved 6 December 2014.
  2. ^ "IDEA". InfoLep. 2014. Retrieved 6 December 2014.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m "ILA" (PDF). ILA. 2012. Retrieved 5 December 2014.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h "ILEP". ILEP. 2014. Retrieved 6 December 2014.
  5. ^ a b "SMHF". SMHF. 2014. Retrieved 6 December 2014.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h "Leprosy Mission". Leprosy Mission. 2014. Retrieved 6 December 2014.
  7. ^ "Padma Shri" (PDF). Padma Shri. 2014. Retrieved 11 November 2014.
  8. ^ "IDEA about". IDEA about. 2014. Retrieved 6 December 2014.
  9. ^ Deepak S, Gopal PK, Hisch E (December 2000). "Consequences of leprosy and socio-economic rehabilitation". Lepr. Rev. 71 (4): 417–419. PMID 11201898.
  10. ^ "ILEP Home". ILEP. 2014. Retrieved 6 December 2014.
  11. ^ "ILA Home". ILA. 2014. Retrieved 6 December 2014.
  12. ^ "Receiving Padma Shri". Leprosy Mailing List. 2013. Retrieved 6 December 2014.
  13. ^ "Sumanahalli". Sumanahalli. 2014. Retrieved 6 December 2014.

Further reading