This award is intended for notable and meaningful contribution in any social
or cultural field, showing qualities of incentive or leadership, including
outstanding contribution to research, education, film, social service, rural and
urban development, architecture, environmental and ecological conservation,
preservation of heritage etc. The award may be given to an individual in the
specific age group or to an institution or group in the above mentioned fields
which have been in existence for 10 to15 years.
Last three years Awardees
Ability Unlimited India
Street Survivors India
Estb. : 1990
Ability Unlimited India (AUI) is nation’s first professional dance
theatre which aims at educating and employing differently-abled people through
innovative choreographic works and public performances that integrate arts with
career opportunities and training. The arts are used as a vehicle to broaden the
perspective and resolve issues of inclusion facing such people. It gives
messages of equality, dignity, equal opportunities and participation of such
under-privileged people so that they can be on the same platform as the normal
Ability Unlimited has a three-fold agenda. First, it advocates the use of arts
and dance as therapeutic tool for healing. Second, it trains such special people
in all spheres including theatrical technical aspects, and third it helps them
become professional artists.
AUI is the only organization to produce historic Indian therapeutic theatre
productions like Ramayana on Wheels, Durga on Wheels, Women of India, Freedom on
Wheels to mention a few. Artists perform on innovative and custom made
wheelchairs and crutches and move across the floor space with breathtaking
The man who spearheads this silent revolution is Guru Syed Sallauddin Pasha, a
dancer of both Bharatanatyam and Kathak; who combines in himself the qualities
of a Dancer, Director, Dance – Movement therapist and Social Activist. Pasha is
recipient of the National Award from the President of India for outstanding
performance in the field of empowerment of persons with disabilities.
Bahar Dutt a trained wildlife conservationist has worked for the last ten
years on key wildlife issues in India and abroad. She has a profound belief that
wildlife is not only an attraction on the earth but it’s our need also.
Bahar has worked in rural areas across Northern India on a community-based
conservation project. She has been members as well as an expert in many renowned
institutions and committees working in the field of wild life conservation. She
has spent seven years working with and rehabilitating the Bahelias, a community
of snake charmers in Rajasthan and Haryana. Through her work with the Joginath
Saperas, she has tried to integrate conservation demands with their need to
retain their identities. Toward this, she has been working with other
conservationists and NGOs to organise them into a snake rescue service and to
develop their musical heritage with stage programmes such as ‘A hundred
charmers’ that has performed in Italy, UK and many parts of India. Her
interventions have helped the snake charmers find a new way to earn a
livelihood, which is not in conflict with conservation laws.
Bahar has transformed environmental journalism from an obtuse segment on the
daily news to an independent and vital component of mainstream reportage. She
strongly believes that environment and wildlife journalism must move beyond the
pretty pictures and focus on the imminent crisis before us. She is an effective
defender of wild life. Bahar Dutt, currently Environment Editor, CNN-IBN uses
the camera the way a forest guard or officer might use a gun.
SSI registered as an NGO way back in 1990, finally established roots in 1998
in Katna, a faraway village, in the district of Murshidabad, West Bengal,
attempting meaningful linkages between education and
women’s development. Jugnu and Shabnam Ramaswamy dreamt of this project in order
to strengthen a school initiative called Jagriti for disadvantaged children
which has now grown with the support of friends of Jagriti.
Initially, ‘Jagriti’ offered sound Bengali-medium, elementary education
to poor out-of school children. However, changes became pertinent and now
education is offered in the English medium, with Bengali as a second language so
that students admitted from the primary level upwards are prepared for higher
secondary board examinations under the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE).
Besides education, by 2002, SSI began creating an informal arbitration court and
justice delivery system at the local Block level, covering some 264 villages.
The objective was to tackle cases involving crimes against women and provide
victims the much-needed access to justice. This project called Streeshakti
or ‘Women’s Power’ is making a crucial contribution in building mass legitimacy
and recognition of their work.
The success of Streeshakti formed the basis of Swayamshakti, a project
that harnesses women’s craft skills to generate economic and social empowerment.
The label Katna’s Kantha represents the collective effort of over 1500
women - members of a growing network from over 22 villages of West Bengal. This
initiative pools its earnings back into ‘Jagriti School’, seeking to educate the
women and their children, and uniting the women with each other.