Nari Shakti Puraskar: Activists, fighter pilots, 103-yr-old sportswoman among 15 awardees

President Kovind presented the Nari Shakti Puraskar to Nilza Wangmo from Leh. Nilza is an entrepreneur who is running Alchi Kitchen restaurant. Photo: Rashtrapati Bhavan

* 105-year-old Bhageerathi Amma and 98-year-old Karthyayini Amma from Kollam in Kerala became the oldest learners under the Kerala State Literacy Mission, having passed their Class IV literacy equivalent examinations earlier this year.

* In Chandigarh, Mann Kaur started her career in athletics at the age of 93. Kaur, who is now aged 103, has won four golds (track and field) at the World Masters Athletic Championship in Poland. She became the world’s fastest centenarian at the American Masters Games, 2016, and won more than 20 medals in World Masters Games and America Masters Games, among other championships.

On Sunday, all three women were among the recipients of the Nari Shakti Puraskar. While Kaur was present at the ceremony held in Rashtrapati Bhavan, Bhageerathi Amma and Karthyayni Amma could not attend the ceremony in person due to their age.

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PM Narendra Modi with Nari Shakti Awardees at New Delhi. (Twitter/@PIB_India)

President Ram Nath Kovind presented the awards for 2019 at a special ceremony on the occasion of International Women’s Day.

A total of 15 women from across the country were conferred the awards in recognition of their efforts towards rendering distinguished services for the emancipation of women, especially those who are vulnerable and marginalised.

The Nari Shakti Puraskar is an initiative of the Union Ministry of Women and Child Development to acknowledge contributions made by individuals and institutions, to celebrate women as “game-changers” and “catalysts of positive change in society”.

President Kovind presented the Nari Shakti Puraskar to Kalavati Devi. She is a lady mason and a driving force towards reducing open defecation in Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh. Photo: Rashtrapati Bhavan

The 15 awardees spanned different walks of life. Padala Bhudevi from Andhra Pradesh has been working for the development of tribal women, widows, Podu lands through a community-based organisation — CAVS (Chinnai Adhivasi Vikas Society). Kalavati Devi from Kanpur is a mason who has been the driving force towards reducing open defecation in the district. She is responsible for building over 4,000 in villages in and around Kanpur.

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Speaking with 14 of the 15 awardees at his official residence, PM Modi said women were major contributors towards the nation's development. (Twitter/@PIB_India)

Bina Devi of Bihar is fondly known as ‘Mushroom Mahila’ for popularising mushroom cultivation. She was the sarpanch of Dhauri Panchayat, Tetiabamber block for five years. Over the years, she has trained farmers on mushroom farming, organic farming, vermin-compost production, organic insecticide preparation at home.

Apart from the Nari Shakti awards, Bina Devi, Kalavati Devi and Arifa Jan from Srinagar have also been included by the Prime Minister’s Office in the #SheInspiresUs campaign, in which Prime Minister Narendra Modi handed over his Twitter account to women achievers on Sunday.

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday interacted with the recipients of Nari Shakti award and urged them to pitch in to eradicate malnutrition in India and conserve water. (Twitter/@PIB_India)

The Indian Air Force’s first women fighter pilots — Mohana Singh, Bhawana Kanth and Avani Chaturvedi — were also conferred the Nari Shakti Puraskar along with mountaineers Tashi and Nunghsi Mallik who have scaled Mount Everest and Rashmi Urdhwardeshe, Director of the Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI) and Charmi Murmu from Jharkhand — an environmentalist responsible for planting over 25 lakh trees and mobilizing 3,000 women in the region.

President Kovind presented the Nari Shakti Puraskar to Kaushiki Chakroborty from Kolkata, West Bengal. She is an Indian classical vocalist and one of the exponents of Khayal and Thumri. Photo: Rashtrapati Bhavan

President Kovind presented the Nari Shakti Puraskar to Arifa Jan. Braving all the odds, Arifa Jan from Kashmir has taken up the daunting task to revive the Numdha handicraft. Photo: Rashtrapati Bhavan

Others conferred the award include Arifa Jan, who is credited with reviving Numdha handicrafts and training more than 100 women in Kashmir; Nilza Wangmo from Leh who runs Alchi Kitchen Restaurant, the first restaurant to serve traditional Ladakhi cuisine and Indian classical vocalist Kaushiki Chakarborty from West Bengal.