Eknathrao alias Balasaheb Vikhe Patil (Marathi: एकनाथराव उर्फ़ बाळासाहेब विखे पाटिल) (born 10 April 1932), popularly known as Balasaheb Vikhe Patil was a member of the 14th Lok Sabha of India. He represented the Kopargaon constituency of Maharashtra and is a member of the Indian National Congress (INC) political party. He is eldest son of Padmashree Vithalrao Vikhe Patil, who started Asia's first co-operative sugar factory at Loni in Maharashtra. Balasaheb is awarded with prestigious civilian award Padma Bhushan on 31 March 2010 for his outstanding work in the field of Social Work.
Propagated the spirit of self-help and mutual help which pervaded every area of development activities, thereby helping farmers of Maharashtra.
Addressed the problems of unemployment, poverty, ignorance and illiteracy in the new global environment.
Promoted several cooperative sugar factories in different areas of Maharashtra and was instrumental in the launch of various cooperative institutions like agricultural credit, agricultural marketing, agro-processing, rural banking etc.
Partook in international Sugar Technologist's Conference at Brazil, Cuba and Havana, thereby exposing farmers to new techniques of sugarcane production.
Undertook village development, illiteracy eradication program and facilities for health.
Introduced key agro-processing and agriculture marketing initiatives through cooperative.
Impetus provided to rural development was recognised by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), New Delhi, resulting in the sanction of Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK) during 1992.
Spearcheaded a technological revolution in the KVK, benefiting over 1000000 small and marginal farmers in Ahmednagar District and also initiated community radio project like facilities of video conferencing.
Promoted integrated rural development through the medium of Information Technology, The Pravara Pragati IT network, a key initiative in this direction, connected 12 Pravara institutions with the rural community in 20 villages, encompassing 85000 rural families. The Project was the first successful model providing connectivity through VSAT Technology, implementing sophisticated technologies like video conferencing in villages.
Propelled technological growth in Indian agriculture through expediting the modernisation process with technological inputs of training programmers.
Achieved 21% increase during the last 30 years in the use of tractors, 52% oil engines and 52% in Dunlop carts.
As Minister of State for Finance in the Union Government, kickstarted the process of strengthening insurance for agriculture, small farmers and farm workers.
Launched Pravara Cooperative Bank under the system of urban banks, in 1975, with a meager share capital of Rs. 200,000 deposit of Only Rs. 5000/-and 400 members. The bank has now been identified as Scheduled Bank by the RBI from 2003. At present share capital has grown to Rs. 299 lacks and the deposit amounts to about Rs. 24716 laks.
The bank financially assisted education for marginal income group, for housing to schedule caste and tribe, low income group people, to promote rural development and co-operation, to promote village industries, motivate young technically qualified persons to start their own industries in the area and to promote dairy development.
Established Pravara Rural Hospital in 1972 in small town called Loni (Pravaranagar), which has emerged as an ultra modern, 750 bedded well equipped hospitals with expert doctors. The hospital undertakes comprehensive community health care of the villages and provides health services at affordable rates, now the help of surperspecialty.
The institution has been serving the underserved tribal and hilly people of 500 villages at the doorsteps through various innovations and empowerment of Female Health Volunteers.
Introduced Pravara Rural Medical College in small town called Loni (Pravaranagar) one of the few colleges in the country conducting community oriented medical education program having international collaborations for exchange of staff, students and collaborative research work in Maastricht, the Netherland University of Limburg, the University of Pecs, Hungary and University of Linkoping, Sweden. Now it has been recognised as a Deemed University, which houses superspeciality training programmes. *Priority for enrolment given to the student from local area & rural areas.
Steered the socio economic development in Ahmednagar District. Appended Pravara Institute of Research and Education in Natural and Social Sciences (PIRENS) an NGO to the portfolio of institutions, with an impetus to economic alleviation programs, thereby generating employment for rural masses. The institution has been doing commendable work for the lot of patients through its vast network of health camps, helping couple of lacks beneficiaries in the process.
Architect of the launch of the first I.T.I in Maharashtra for Women and the first Polytechnic for girls for acquiring technical skills.
Undertook social upliftment of women through the launch of PIRENS programmes.
Piloted key initiatives to address water scarcity through the launch of an NGO, "Maharashtra Pani Parishad". Which suggested various programmes harvesting of water with various means.