On the occasion of International Women’s Day, Nari Shakti Puraskar were presented by the President of India, Ram Nath Kovind to 28 women achievers, 14 each for the years 2020 and 2021, in recognition of their exceptional work towards women empowerment.
The winners for 2020 hailed are from fields as diverse as entrepreneurship, agriculture, innovation, social work, arts and crafts, STEMM and wildlife conservation, among others. The 2021 winners are from areas of linguistics, entrepreneurship, agriculture, social work, arts and crafts, Merchant Navy, STEMM, education and literature, disability rights and others.
The award ceremony for the year 2020 could not be held in 2021 due to COVID-19 pandemic.
Nari Shakti Puraskar is an initiative of the Ministry of Women and Child Development to acknowledge the exceptional contribution made by individuals and institutions, to celebrate women as game changers and catalysts of positive change in society.
Nari Shakti Puraskar Recipients
A social entrepreneur, Gupta, after witnessing domestic violence, set up an NGO for rural women with her younger brother. She has set up more than 500 self-help groups (SHGs) to conduct health check-up camps, impart adult education and vocational training for rural women. She has also organised various campaigns to create awareness on proper water use and sanitation. She has trained more than 50,000 underprivileged rural women in various skills through her NGO, Bhojpur Mahila Kala Kendra.
Rana, a handloom weaver and a teacher, is President of Tharu Hath Karga Gharelu Udyog, which was honoured by the Prime Minister in 2016. In 2015, she organised Tharu Mahotsav, an Integrated Tribal Project at Chandan Chowki, Lakhimpur Kheri. She imparted training in crafts to over 800 Tharu women. She also started over 150 women’s SHGs with over 3,600 women members.
Dr Ela Lodh (Posthumous)
Dr Lodh, an obstetrician and gynaecologist, served as Administrative Director of the Tripura Health Service from 1990 until 2000. She founded the Hepatitis Foundation of Tripura, and was deeply involved in raising awareness about women’s health.
The Nari Shakti Puraskar has been awarded posthumously for her outstanding contribution towards women’s health, particularly for those marginalised and underprivileged.
Jaya Muthu and Tejamma
Jaya Muthu and Tejamma are artisans, who make shawls and garments with intricate Toda embroidery, an artwork of Toda pastoral people of Nilgiris, Tamil Nadu, which is made exclusively by women. The base material, which is white in colour, is handwoven in single width and embroidery is done by counting of threads.
Jodhaiya Bai Baiga
A tribal Baiga art painter, Jodhaiya Bai Baiga was widowed at the age of 40. She portrays tribal cultures and lifestyles on canvas and has exhibited at Galleria Francesco Zanuso in Milan, Italy and Claire Corcia Gallery in Paris, France. She solo has painting shows at the Alliance Francaise in Bhopal.
A Sikki grass artist, who established the Folk Art Handicraft Training Centre, aided by the Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India, Thakur also operates an NGO HastkalaVikas Kendra. She provides free training in her art and has trained more than 400 underprivileged women.
Akhter is a grassroots innovator, who after working for over eight years, demonstrated an innovative way for making polythene biodegradable at Kashmir University Science Instrumentation Centre. She developed a herb that converts polythene to ashes, a biodegradable product that does not pollute the environment. She has been recognised by Kalam World Record, Asia Book of Records, and India Book of Records, among others.
Nivruti Rai is the Country Head of Intel India. She developed semiconductor chips that consume less power using a technique called error-correcting codes and a new rural connectivity solution that uses overhead electric cables to deliver the cost-effective high-speed broadband connection. She launched AI-Youth, AI-Ready Generation, AIBlockchain, ‘AI for All’ programme.
An owner of a design studio and a café, Yangchan revived the lost cuisine and clothing of Ladakh. She has her own designer brand, Nazma. Her café is based on the idea of sustainable agriculture, with a personal kitchen garden of fresh organic farm produce from the café compound itself. The café serves handcrafted food, preserving the existing undocumented Ladakhi cuisine and recipes.
A Divyang social worker, Dhar has been associated with Divyangjan Bill Rights, their accessibility to schools, colleges, workplaces and Divyang-friendly subway crossings. She has arranged for self-employment loans and jobs for Divyangjan through various government schemes. She founded Jammu Institute of General Education and Rehabilitation (JIGER) in 2015 that conducts classes for Divyangjan and underprivileged children together under the guidance of Divyang teachers.
Saylee Nandkishor Agavane
Saylee is a Kathak dancer, who has not allowed Down Syndrome to come in the way of achieving her dreams. She has performed in more than 100 programmes and events. At the Global Olympiad Dance Competition, she received a bronze medal. She is a recipient of a National Award from the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, the Government of India and a World Down Syndrome Day Awardee from Down Syndrome International Organization, London and Scotland.
Tiffany Brar founded the Jyothirgamaya Foundation which works for empowering blind people, particularly blind women. In 2012, she established a mobile blind school in rural areas of Kerala. Her idea to identify the different denominations led to the creation of the ‘Tiffy Template’. She herself has provided training to over 200 blind persons in Braille, computers, personal grooming and other basic skills.
Ushaben Dineshbhai Vasava
Vasava is an organic farmer and tribal activist who ensured land entitlements to over 500 women. She is the chairperson of the District ATMA Project. She is also the President of Swabhoomi Kendra and Sagbara Mahila Manch. An Advisory Board Member of the Krishi Vigyan Kendra in the Narmada district, she delivers lectures and provides training on fertiliser use for KVK, ATMA and NGOs, as well as sharing technology-based farming experiences with the community providing training to over 2,700 farm women.
Vanita Jagdeo Borade
Vanita Jagdeo Borade is the “irst Women Snake Rescuer, who founded SoyreVanchare Multipurpose Foundation for nature and wildlife protection and for promoting a pollution-free environment. She has rescued and released over 50,000 snakes to their natural habitat.
Nari Shakti Puruskar 2021
Anshul Malhotra is the founder of Krishna Wools, which is working for the preservation of Himachal handloom and creating new patterns for popularising it. She has provided free handloom weaving training to 200 underprivileged rural women and created a collection of more than 2,200 handloom designs and given it to the weavers to weave. She is also promoting handloom weaving and heritage through workshops, seminars and lectures in rural areas of Himachal Pradesh.
Batool Begum, a Maand and Bhajan folk singer, specialises in Rajasthani folk tunes. She also plays instruments like tabla, dholak and dhol. She is a member of the folk band Klezmer and has performed and promoted Indian folk music internationally in countries such as Tunisia, France, Spain, Belgium, Italy. The Nari Shakti Puraskar is awarded to her for her outstanding contribution in promoting Indian folk music internationally.
Kumbhar, an accomplished entrepreneur in the field of animal husbandry; founded Kamal Poultry & EktaSakhi Producer Company in 1998 that helped more than 3,000 women in the drought-prone Osmanabad region. She has also established poultry operations for premium chicken species. After getting training as an Energy Sakhi in SSP’s Women in Clean Energy Programme, she was instrumental in lighting up more than 3,000 houses with solar-powered equipment. She helped over 5,000 women to start micro-businesses. Kamal Kumbhar has also been conferred with CII Foundation Women Exemplar Award and Women Transforming India Award in 2017 by NITI Aayog.
Ramteke is a social worker who is dedicated to the welfare of domestically abused women. She started a modest banking operation for domestically abused women and in 2001; the bank was formally named Maa Bamleshwari Bank by the district administration. The bank now has 5,372 branches, is entirely managed and controlled by women, and has raised Rs 1.19 crore and disbursed Rs. 70 lakh in loans. She began growing Elephant Foot Yam in 2015 with 12 lakh plants that have now grown to more than 35 lakh plants.
Neena Gupta is a mathematician, researcher and professor at Statistics and Mathematics Unit of Indian Statistical Institute, Kolkata who solved 70 years old Zariski Cancellation Problem, a basic problem in algebraic geometry and has published over 20 research papers in national and international publications including The Structure of a Laurent Polynomial Fibration in Variables, Journal of Algebraic Geometry (2012).
Madhav is a Hindi author who promoted world peace, rights and reservation for eunuchs and Tibetan refugees. Some of her remarkable works are Yamdeep (2002), Tebhya: Swadha (2004), GesheJumpa (2006), Anupameya Shankar (2009), Diary of 5-Avarna Female Constable (2010), among others. She received Yashpal Award in 1998 and Madhya Pradesh Sahitya Akademi Award in 2006.
Niranjanaben is an author and educator, who contributed immensely to Gujarati literature. Her notable work includes ‘Ba and Bapu’ and ‘Gujaratna Shirchhatra Sardar’, among many other books. She founded Mukul Trust, Bardoli in 1988, Sardar Kanya Vidyalaya, and Swaraj Ashram, Bardoli in 1996, which have helped Gujarati tribal and underprivileged girls in getting an education. She was awarded National Teachers Award by the Government of India in 1989 and Sewa Samman by Bhaurav Devras Smriti in 2003.
Pooja Sharma, a farmer and entrepreneur hail from Gurugram, Haryana. Created Gurgaon based Self Help Group ‘Kshitiz’ in 2013 and Delhi based ‘ZingNZest’ Company in 2017. She used IARI-standardized technology to make processed soy, soy health drink, biscuits and other soynut items. She established 9 SHGs and trained more than 1,000 women in Haryana. Her food manufacturing units employ nearly 150 women.
Radhika Menon, the first Indian Woman Captain of the Merchant Navy, hails from Thrissur, Kerala and is well known for her rescue operation conducted successfully in June 2015 saving 7 fishermen who were trapped for a week in a boat while in command of ‘MT Sampurna Swarajya’ ship. She is the first woman in the world to receive the Award for Exceptional Bravery at Sea by International Maritime Organisation (IMO) & Gallantry at Sea by NMDC India in 2016.
Sathupati Prasanna Sree
Sathupati Prasanna Sree, Professor & Chairperson of the Board of Studies, Andhra University, is an Indian linguist who has worked to preserve minority tribal languages and developed new writing systems for tribal languages. She is the 1st woman in the world to devise scripts (alphabets) for 19 tribal languages namely Bhagatha, Gadabha, Kolami, Konda Dora etc. Her literary contributions include works such as ‘Psychodynamics of Women in Postmodern Literature of the East and West, ‘Shades of Silence’, and ‘Woman in Shashi Deshpande’s Novel – A Study,’ among others. She is the 1st Indian and Asian woman to be featured in World Atlas of Endangered Alphabets, USA (2019).
Shobha Gasti started Mahilla Abhivrudhi Mattu Samrakshana Samasthe (MASS), NGO that works in 360 villages across three talukas in Belgaum, Karnataka. MASS was effective in mainstreaming 3600+ devadasis in the Belgaum district; putting an end to the practice of forced Devadasi. She has strategically desecrated symbols of ritual sanction to the practice of Devdasi system by publicly appealing to people and through campaigns that focus on ensuring the dignity and education of girl children by preventing child marriage, child trafficking, and child abuse.
Sruti Mohapatra, a disability rights activist is a former Chairperson of the Odisha State Commission for the Protection of Child Rights and a current member of the National Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. She is known as the ‘Crusader in a Wheelchair’. In 2001, she founded ‘Swabhiman’ and ‘SHARE’, NGOs working for the upliftment of Divyangjan in Odisha. She also founded Project Anjali for Divyang children to showcase their talents and other projects for education and self-employment support for Divyangjan. She worked for the passage of the PWD Act in 1996 and the RPWD Act in 2016.
Tage Rita Takhe
Tage Rita Takhe is an entrepreneur who produces ‘Naara Aaba’, India’s first organic kiwi wine, with an annual capacity of approximately 60,000 litres and a turnover of ₹ 4.5 crores. She is an engineer by qualification, however, left her job to become an entrepreneur. She founded “Lambu – Subu Food and Beverages”, ‘Naara-Aaba wine’ in 2016 in Lower Subansiri, Arunachal Pradesh. She has been awarded ‘The United Nations’ Women Transforming India Award’.
She is the co-founder and Vice-Chairperson of the Schizophrenia Research Foundation (SCARF) in Chennai. She is a Psychiatrist and Researcher. She established a free mobile telepsychiatry service in seven rural districts of Tamil Nadu and conducted the ‘Madras Longitudinal Study,’ for more than 35 years on Schizophrenia patients.
Her creation ‘Indian Disability Evaluation and Assessment Scale (IDEAS)’ is used by the Government of India to assess mental disorders. She was also a member of the World Health Organization’s Mental Health Expert Group. She has received President’s Medal, Royal College of Psychiatrists, UK in 2010 & Outstanding Clinical and Community Research Award from Schizophrenia International Research Society in 2020.