New Delhi: The Chhattisgarh Government announces the first edition of Chhattisgarh Veerni Awardees to be held on Ambedkar Jayanti, 14th of April, 2021, via a virtual ceremony.
The awardees are a diverse group of women achievers and leaders from Chhattisgarh and other parts of India in the fields of law, education, literature, history, music, business, sports, law enforcement and social work – including, Teejan Bai, Dutee Chand, Shubha Mudgal, Rebecca Mammen John, Sabbah Haji, Rana Safvi, Budhri Taati, Keshkunwar Panika, Amita Shriwas, Lakshmi Karyare, Ameera Shah, Yashica Dutt, Ankita Gupta, and Savita Awasthi.
These awards have been instituted by Smart City, Raipur led by Mr. Aijaz Dhebar, Mayor – Raipur, and will be presented by the Hon’ble Chief Minister Mr. Bhupesh Baghel.
The awardees will be presented with a hamper that celebrates local folk arts, handicraft and artisans. The government has worked with a master artisan and especially designed and commissioned a trophy in the Dokra Tribal Art antique lost wax method. This statue depicts a woman crowning herself and is symbolic of the government’s commitment to work to level the playing field for women. Shawls and sarees have been commissioned from the state-run women’s handloom cooperative, and celebrate the rich tradition of the region’s famous Tussar and Kosa Silk in exclusive designs. In addition to showcasing the extraordinary traditions of the state, these shawls and sarees tell multiple other important stories.
The awards were announced on the 8th of March 2021, on the occasion of International Women’s Day, followed by the release of the list of recipients in the month of April 2021. The awards symbolise the Hon’ble Chief Minister’s affirmation that the government of Chhattisgarh remains resolute towards the cause of empowering and celebrating women in Indian and Chhattisgarhi society. They signify a core idea: that a nation, economy and society can only progress when women progress. These awards also emphasise the urgent need for a greater representation of women in every field.
Announcing the Chhatisgarh Veerni Awards, the Hon’ble Chief Minister of Chhattisgarh Mr. Bhupesh Baghel said,
“On the 8th of March, 2021, to mark International Women’s Day, the Chhattisgarh strengthens its resolve to create a state where women are free, empowered, included and celebrated every single day of every single year. Our government has initiated programmes and policies that focus on women’s needs and attempt to level the playing field for them. On this date, we will renew our pledge to keep women’s interests on our minds while making policies in every sector.
It is our firm belief that empowering women with education, resources, and rights will enable our economy, our society, our families and our culture to scale the heights of glory. Women have the capacity to nurture and lead and it is imperative that we help them to equip themselves to achieve their full potential. As part of this effort we announce an award to recognize the contributions made by women in the state of Chattisgarh. We will also take the opportunity to honour women who have set examples across the country.
We hope this endeavour will inspire more women to rise up as leaders in their chosen fields and more men to be their allies.
The ceremony will take place on the birth anniversary of Shri Bhimrao Ambedkar and also honour his immense contribution to nation building and the rights of Dalits and women.”
Below is the list of awardees from Chhattisgarh and other states of India.
Awardees from other States of India
1. Rebecca Mammen John for her contribution to the field of law: A Senior Advocate at the Supreme Court of India, she works primarily in the field of criminal defense. She has been a part of various landmark cases, including the 1987 Hashimpura Massacre Case, cases involving the Anti-Sikh Riots of 1984 and the Aarushi Murder Trial. Most recently she successfully defended Priya Ramani in the MJ Akbar #Metoo Defamation Case.
2. Dutee Chand for her contribution to the field of sports: Dutee Chand is an Indian professional sprinter and current national champion in the women’s 100 meters event. She is the first Indian to win a gold medal in a 100 meters race in a global competition. She is the third Indian woman to ever qualify for the Women’s 100 meters event at the Summer Olympic Games.
3. Shubha Mudgal for her contribution to the field of music, art, and culture: Shubha Mudgal is a renowned Indian singer of Hindustani classical music. Her vast repertoire includes the genres of khyal, thumri, and Dadra. The award appreciates her diverse, spectacular range and dedication to keeping the best traditions of Hindustani Classical Music alive, as well as her reaching these to a wide public and training a new generation of Hindustani classical music exponents.
4. Ameera Shah for her contribution to the fields of healthcare and women’s entrepreneurship: As Managing Director of Metropolis Healthcare and founder of the non-profit initiative Empoweress, she and her team are being lauded for her company’s work in healthcare diagnostic services, including its handling of India’s Covid-19 crisis, as well as her initiative that takes a range a concrete steps to empower women entrepreneurs.
5. Yashica Dutt for her contribution to the field of Journalism: Yashica Dutt is an author and a journalist whose articles on gender, identity and caste have proven to be impactful not just for their insight but also because of the range of readers they have reached. The same holds true for her first book, Coming Out As Dalit, which weaves personal narrative with social commentary thereby revealing the crux of a searing national issue to a wide reading public.
6. Sabbah Haji for her contribution to the field of education: Sabbah Haji is the Director of the Haji Public School, a not-for-profit school established in 2009 by her family in their ancestral village in the Doda district of Jammu and Kashmir. She saw that nearly two generations of villagers had no education, due to the apathetic attitude of successive governments and militancy. She then thought of opening a school based on a unique educational model which has helped disenfranchised children gain a holistic education. She started Haji Public School (HPS) in 2009 in Breswana.
7. Rana Safvi for her contribution to the field of history: A writer, historian, scholar, and translator, she is the author of Where Stones Speak: Historical Trails in Mehrauli, The First City of Delhi, The Forgotten Cities of Delhi, and Tales from the Quran and Hadith and translator of Syed Ahmad Khan’s Asar us Sanadid and Zahir Dehlvi’s Dastan-e-Ghadar and City of my Heart (4 accounts from 19th and 20th century). She is a passionate proponent of India’s Ganga- Jamuni Tehzeeb, or syncretic culture, through writings, podcasts, videos, and social media forums.
Awardees from Chhattisgarh
1. Budhri Taati for her contribution to the field of social service: Known as ‘Badi Didi’ (Big Sister), she has committed her life to Social Service for 40 years now. She lives and works in Dantewada, and has been arranging for the residence, education and training of 50-60 children between 5 and 12 years every year. She also works towards making women economically self-sufficient and has succeeded in doing so with 551 women so far (of which 55 have gone into the nursing and Anganwadi worker professions). She has an ashram for taking care of women and men who are above 70 years of age.
2. Keshkunwar Panika for her contribution to the fields of entrepreneurship and women’s financial empowerment: She provided employment to 5000 women and made 40,000 masks during the pandemic; She keeps running self-help groups to make women economically self-sufficient.
3. Amita Shriwas for her contribution to the field of sports: An Anganwadi worker at Champa, Shriwas has scaled Mount Kilimanjaro, the world’s highest free-standing mountain and Africa’s tallest peak at 5895 meters. She did so while carrying 25 kilos, over five nights. The message she sent out to the world after reaching the summit was “Gadhbo Nava Chhattisgarh” (or “We Will Build A New Chhattisgarh”).
4. Lakshmi Karyare for her contribution to the fields of education and literature: A Dalit poet and educationist, she has worked in the fields of education (primary education), literature and music; and has won awards for her work in education (the Chief Minister’s Award) and literature (the Munshi Premchand Award).
5. Savita Awasthi for her contribution to the fields of law and legal literacy: A lawyer who runs legal aid camps and raises awareness about women’s rights, working tirelessly to increase legal literacy; She fights cases for women-in-need for free. She is also a member of the Child Welfare Committee of the Women & Child Development Department and works to protect poor children and ensure their rights are preserved. She offers free counseling, on their legal rights, to women detained in police stations.
6. Teejan Bai for her contribution to the field of performing arts: A living legend, she has been performing the Mahabharata for last several decades, as an exponent of Pandavani, a traditional art form from Chhattisgarh. She is the winner of Padma Shri, Padma Bhushan, Padma Vibhushan, and Sangeet Natak Akademi Award.
7. Ankita Gupta for her contribution to the fields of women empowerment and public service: A female constable in the District Police Force in Kabirdham, she is associated with athletics and has represented Chhattisgarh in the police meet. Currently she teaches karate to girls in Kawardha and trains women for recruitment in the Police Department.
Chhattisgarh is a state with the greatest percentage of women MLAs in its assembly, as compared to other Indian states. The Chhattisgarh government is committed towards working for the education, employment, health, and social and economic self-reliance of women in Chhattisgarh and has consistently introduced policies to this effect.