Swarajya Awards for 2016, presented in association with India Foundation and Indic Academy, were announced Saturday (5 November 2016) at India Ideas Conclave in Goa. The aim of the awards is to recognise the salient contribution of different individuals in the fields of economics, politics, social work and culture.
Here’s what you should know about the winners and their work:
Baijayant ‘Jay’ Panda - Winner of the Dr S P Mukherjee Award For Politics
Good governance lies at the intersection of constructive ideas and indefatigable action. The labour of a politician, while being extremely taxing in a democracy like India, is unlikely to lead to a positive change if not guided by the principle of public interest. And a novel idea in a political leader’s mind is of no value unless it takes the form of an activity on the ground. Sri Baijayant ‘Jay’ Panda is one such leader who complements his ideas of good governance with relentless action.
Sri Panda has been a distinguished parliamentarian; he first entered the Parliament as a member of the Rajya Sabha in 2000, then again in 2006, and then got elected to the Lok Sabha from the Kendrapara constituency in 2009 and 2014. In this time, he has made valuable and enlightening interventions in debates on issues of national importance both inside and outside the Parliament, and has emerged as one of the most respected opinion-makers in the Indian public discourse.
Sri Panda’s popularity is not limited to his parliamentary constituency or state, but goes beyond them. The young citizens of India are especially inspired by the kind of politics he represents and practises. Sri Panda’s efforts to combat malnutrition, his solutions to problems of the education and economic sector, and his views on topics of national concern are followed with keen intent by the youth of India.
In the twenty-first century, India needs a political culture which is driven by both the force of ideas and the force of action. Such an association of thought and work was seen in the life of Dr Shyama Prasad Mukherjee, and, a similar association is now seen in the efforts of Sri Baijayant ‘Jay’ Panda. With his perceptive ideas of governance, and his unflagging efforts behind them, Sri Panda is today an inspiration to all Indians who wish to make a productive contribution to the unceasing project of nation-building.
T C A Srinivasa-Raghavan - Winner of the Dr B.R Shenoy Award for Economics
The B R Shenoy Award is in honour of India’s bravest free market economist who dared to challenge Nehruvian socialism. Eminent journalist T C A Srinivasa-Raghavan, the second recipient of this award, is also someone who has dared to tilt at the windmills of socialism when it was not fashionable to do so.
The 1951-born TCA, as Mr Raghavan is popularly known, completed his schooling from Sardar Patel Vidyalaya in Delhi and then studied economics at Hindu College and Delhi School of Economics. Though most of his extended family comprised of bureaucrats, he turned away from the civil services and stepped into the world of publishing, joining Macmillan India as economics editor in 1975. Five years later, he turned to journalism. After three months of reviewing films for the Free Press Bulletin of Mumbai, he joined The Eastern Economist. He has since worked in Financial Express, Economic Times, Business Standard and The Hindu Businessline.
TCA’s razor-sharp mind and deep contacts in the bureaucracy have made him one of India’s most insightful writers on the political economy, showing how even the most well-meaning of programmes get hijacked by bureaucrats and vested interests. His writing has a light touch that makes economics easy for lay persons as well. He was the first to use the term TamBrahm in the Times of India and popularise it.
TCA is the author of an e-book, The Crown of Thorns: The Governors of the RBI. In a research project he did for ICRIER in 1988, he was the first to suggest that India should focus on services. He has written monographs for think tanks and contributed essays to academic journals and books on a wide range of topics relating to economic policy. He has been a consultant for the Reserve Bank of India and has been visiting fellow at Oxford and Cambridge and the Delhi School of Economics. He is currently working on three books: one on monetary history, a novel about publishing and a book of short stories.
Temsutala Imsong - Winner of Sree Narayana Guru Award For Social work
Temsutula Imsong is blazing a trail in the Swachh Bharat campaign and has single-handedly turned around abhorrent conditions in one of Varanasi’s famous riverside ghats – the Prabhu Ghat.
A boat ride during her first visit to one of India's holiest cities gave her such a harrowing experience that she spent the night shaking with anger and disappointment – something which inspired her to take up the cudgels for a cleaner Varanasi.
She saw the ghats were strewn with garbage and excrement, and the stench emanating from them was so overbearing that she and a friend who was accompanying her, had to hold their breath in disgust.
Silt and dirt were covering most of the stairways of the ghats and people could be found publicly urinating across the place. She was certain that nobody had made any attempt to clean up the place in a long time.
How could a place of such great spiritual significance be treated in so shabby a manner?
Determined to make a difference, Ms Imsong returned along with her friends to the ghats a month later. In the intervening period, she had mobilised friends and activists using the social media. Her team also chipped in with money to buy essential cleaning and protective gear for volunteers. Over the next three days, the team spent their evenings clearing the ghats, removing all the dirt accumulated over the decades. The team would work hard in the evening only to find the ghats dirtied again during the course of the next day. The stench of garbage cleared could sometimes get so bad that many of Ms Imsong's team members were unable to eat or even drink water. The pictures they shared of a clean Prabhu Ghat at the end of the day, three of which went viral over social media, won them praise from millions of followers across India, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, himself.
Mission Prabhu Ghat was a grand success. Ms Imsong’s team had roped in locals, tourists, volunteers and even students to make this possible.
If Prabhu Ghat can be cleaned up in three days why can’t the other slimy spots in and around Varanasi?
After Prabhu Ghat, Ms Imsong’s team has cleaned the Babua Pandey Ghat. They have also adopted two small reservoirs, Sonebhadra Kund and Gauri Kund, which have been desilted and cleaned up. Her work now attracts many volunteers, mainly students, who participate in the shramdaan to make their city a little more cleaner. Financial help has also come her way, but most of the supporters have been asked to contribute by buying cleaning equipment for the volunteers. From a team of a handful of volunteers, the group has now grown to over two dozen individuals, contributing their time and effort to make Varanasi a cleaner place.
When Ms Imsong first began organising volunteers to clean up the ghats, she had been living in Varanasi for only a few months. Born in the Mokokchung village of Nagaland, she imbibed the values of volunteer initiative and cleanliness from the voluntary clean-up drive organised in her village every month.
Ms Imsong’s extraordinary efforts in mobilising and sustaining a team of volunteers to clean up a part of the city she resides in, embodies the true spirit of the Swachh Bharat campaign.
Jaya Jaitly – Winner of Ustad Bismillah Khan Award For Culture
Jaya Jaitly is provocateur of a silent revolution in the traditional arts and crafts of India. She has inspired the kaarigars who in turn have inspired her, tirelessly, for decades. Through Dastakaari Haat Samiti, she has created viable platforms for artisans, craftsmen, and weavers, echoing the need to build a market for their work and saving the dying arts.
She has worked at the Gujarat State Handloom Development Corporation, nourishing the old embroidery art in drought-struck Kutch in Gujarat, where stories of economic success and financial sustenance sprouted amidst despair, owing to her determination and efforts.
Smt Jaitly's passion for cultural expressions has infused life into a number of efforts and initiatives meant to preserve and promote our cultural heritage. Her deep understanding of the dedicated community of artisans and their complex social fibre is exemplary. It stems from her seamless interactions with their arts at the grassroots.
She has written several books including 'Crafts Atlas of India' and 'Vishwakarma's Children', showcasing Indian arts. She has helped evolve the language of arts and crafts by blending them with other facets in her seasoned engagement with culture.
Having worked with three generations of craftsmen, she has encouraged a chain of confidence-driven collaborations between them, generating in the process, several opportunities for the makers of beautiful arts. In her journey as a cultural impresario, she has worked constantly, opening knots of gender, caste and other identities compartmentalising artisans, their traditional skills and ideas.
Smt Jaitly is a woman of many weaves. When she drapes a sari, she does not merely wear a traditional Indian costume loved by women. She wears with pride, the marvellous stories and creative expressions from our weavers and regions woven into fabric, inspiring women across India to pass on the treasures and cultural narratives. She continues to give our longstanding traditional art and crafts the sacred thread of perseverance.
More pictures from the event:
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