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  Civil Society awards to honour eight people from across India

Civil Society awards to honour eight people from across India

Published : Oct 30, 2015, 5:03 am IST
Updated : Oct 30, 2015, 5:03 am IST

Eight people, from across the country, will come together on one platform on Friday for the Civil Society Hall of Fame awards.

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. (Photo: AP)
 Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. (Photo: AP)

Eight people, from across the country, will come together on one platform on Friday for the Civil Society Hall of Fame awards. Hailing from diverse backgrounds, these eight people have fought hard for civilian rights to keep our democracy alive. The award ceremony will celebrate their spirit and work by inducting them into the Civil Society Hall of Fame.

In an age when prime-time news has taken over the media, Umesh and Rita Anand, bring a fresh sense of hope with their subaltern magazine — Civil Society. A retired editor and a teacher, together they have converted the magazine into a journal of and for ordinary citizens living extraordinary lives. They have been archiving and celebrating people who have made a considerable impact on our society through their exemplary work.

The Civil Society Hall of Fame, is an annual award, meant to felicitate, recognise and extend support to ordinary people who have been working for civilian rights and to better Indian governmental system. As a magazine advocating civilian rights, Umesh says the basic role of this award is to spread awareness and celebrate the role of people working towards creating a better democracy.

“This is not a money-driven venture. The concept of this award was born out of pure journalistic instinct to bring forth these extraordinary souls and make the country aware of their contributions. Our goal is recognise people who have fought for civilian rights, people who are driven by ideas and passion rather than a political agenda.”

“These nominees are one of those people who don’t bother about the fame or scale of their efforts, but work only for the benefit and betterment of their environment. They are picked up from remote corners of the country and from various different fields. We have a diverse jury, and the nominees are selected purely on the basis of their work,” he adds.

One of the previous entries into the Hall of Fame was Sanjay Sahni, an electrician from Muzzafarpur, Bihar. He was aware of the NREGA programme and the rampant corruption, but had no idea about the data and the process to take rightful action. He was introduced to Google as an online encyclopaedia, and while discovering its services he came across NREGA data, the names of people from his village who never received the assistance. From there on, he led a civilian movement to correct the system and guarantee rightful payment of the dues.

No one knew about Sanjay Sahni, until he was inducted him into the Hall of Fame. “Fighting at grassroots level and working for a better system can get extremely lonely and often these people face pressure and threats from the higher-ups. Recognising them and felicitating them brings forth their work. They get national and global support. Sanjay Sahni has now been written about internationally, he was even featured on Satyamev Jayate. This helps in building morale of ordinary citizens fighting for a better future,” says Rita.

This year’s winners include, Dr Sudha Sinha, who initiated specialised cancer wards for children at the M.N.J. Cancer Hospital in Hyderabad and set up an NGO called Impact to help better public healthcare system. Dr Sitanath De, who returned from England to take up practice as a surgeon in the remote town of Jhargram in West Bengal. Dr De, along with other surgeons, later found ASRI or the Association of Rural Surgeons of India.

Archana Godbole and Jayant Sarnaik, found the Applied Environment Research Foundation to conserve biodiversity in the Western Ghats. Indraani Singh, first female pilot to fly an Airbus-300, found Literacy India, an NGO that helps provide education and vocational skills to underprivileged children, youth and women.

Puli Raju, a schoolteacher, has been compiling and archiving parallel data on the number of farmer suicides in the state of Telengana. He has been maintaining his own records since 2004 and has often questioned and corrected the numbers provided by the government.

And finally, in the list of winners comes Sumoni Jhodia, one of the most prominent tribal leaders in Orissa, who has led major movements to fight for the rights of her village. The magazine, is honouring and celebrating the contributions of these exceptional people on Friday evening at the Indian Habitat Centre.

Location: India, Delhi, New Delhi