Bansidhar and Ila Panda Foundation’s 11th Shambhavi Puraskar honours efforts for empowering women and forest-dwelling communities in Odisha

Bhubaneswar: The 11th Shambhavi Puraskar by Bansidhar and Ila Panda Foundation (BIPF) was awarded to Shri Ranjit Majhi for his exceptional work in implementing the Forest Rights Act (FRA). Additionally, Smt. Sasmita Mangaraj was honored with the Jury Commendation Certification for her outstanding work in empowering women at the grassroots level toward livelihood and self-reliance.
Mrs. Chetna Sinha, Founder and Chairperson of Mann Deshi Bank and Mann Deshi Foundation Maharashtra graced the occasion as the chief guest along with Guest of Honor, Lt General C P Mohanty, 42nd Vice Chief of Army Staff and Member of the Armed Forces Tribunal, Delhi.
Speaking at the 11th Shambhavi Puraskar, Mrs. Chetna Sinha, Founder and Chairperson Mann Deshi Bank and Mann Deshi Foundation Maharashtra said, “True change begins with a single act of courage and a small act of courage by silent heroes can become a capital for the poor. As we gather to honor the silent heroes of Odisha, let us remember that every small step towards social change creates ripples of hope and empowerment.”
Elaborating on the initiative, Mrs. Shaifalika Panda, Trustee & Founder CEO, BIPF, and Chief of CSR (Special Initiatives), IMFA, added, “It is our responsibility, to be of service to the underserved and to create a ripple effect of change toward social transformation. The Shambhavi Purasakar has given these grassroot leaders of Odisha a platform to further their vision and ambition toward collective growth.”
Furthermore, Guest of Honour Lt General C P Mohanty 42nd Vice Chief of Army Staff Member Armed Forces Tribunal Delhi said, “As we recognize the exceptional efforts of social changemakers in Odisha, let us salute the resilience and commitment of those who work tirelessly to uplift communities and inspire positive change. The qualities embodied by the Shambhavi Puraskar – courage, discipline, and integrity – are essential for shaping the future generation.”

About the winners:
Shri Ranjit Majhi, has empowered the forest-dwelling communities in 112 villages of Sundargarh district to claim their rights over forest land and resources, while also promoting the conservation and regeneration of the forest ecosystem. His power of advocacy, resilience, and commitment to amplify the voices of marginalized communities have imprinted an indelible mark on the landscape of forest land rights advocacy. In recognition of his passion for justice and an unwavering dedication to preserving and protecting Odisha’s forests, the Bansidhar & Ila Panda Foundation (BIPF) conferred him with an award and a cash prize of Rs. 2,50,000.
Smt. Sasmita Mangaraj was presented the Jury Commendation Certification 2024. Despite her humble means, she has formed 4 federations, 40 Self-Help Groups (SHGs), and engaged 400 beneficiaries in livelihood activities, laying a solid foundation for women’s financial independence and improved living. In recognition of her exemplary work in empowering women through sustainable livelihood, the Bansidhar & Ila Panda Foundation (BIPF) conferred her with an award and a cash prize of Rs. 50,000.
‘Shambhavi Puraskar’, instituted by the Bansidhar & Ila Panda Foundation in 2014, aims to encourage and inspire development by celebrating the achievements of silent pioneers who tirelessly work toward developing the community. Over the last decade, through Shambhavi Puraskar, BIPF has supported more than 20 changemakers to widen their reach by exposing them to a wider network of social investors and organizations.
The awardee selection is based on criteria such as the impact created, sustainability, community participation, scalability, innovation, and the number of beneficiaries. An independent jury panel comprising esteemed leaders from the government, academia, industry, media, and a representative from BIPF adjudicate the winners every year.

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