Profiles and Interviews

Five Ngo’s, 27 Women given Nari Shakti Award

The President, Shri Pranab Mukherjee presented Nari Shakti Awards 2016 at a special ceremony/function held in New Delhi on the occasion of International Women’s Day. The awards were presented to five Ngo’s and 27 women in recognition of their efforts in rendering distinguished services for the cause of women, especially vulnerable and marginalized women.

The Details of the Awardees are given below:



From time immemorial, women in India have excelled in diverse fields. The contributions made by women saints, philosophers like Meera Bai, Gargi and Maitreyi, theologists like Anupama and Lopamudra, poetesses like Reva and Mahadevi, scientists like Leelavati in ancient and medival India are recorded in golden letters in the annals of Indian history.

In modern India, and more particularly since Independence, more and more women have come forward to shoulder responsibilities with men in various walks of life. Sarojini Naidu and Kasturba Gandhi were at the forefront of our freedom struggle. Indira Gandhi, the longest serving woman head of Government in the world. Vijaya Laxmi Pandit became the first woman President of the General Assembly of the United Nations, and Mother Teresa, who adopted India as her home, was the first women Nobel laureate from Asia. Justice Anna Chandy was the first woman judge of a High Court, Dr. Sucheta Kriplani, the first woman Chief Minister of a State, Rajkumari Amrit Kaur, the first woman minister of the Union of India, Dr. Ashima Chatterjee, the first woman President of the Indian Science Congress and so on.

In the current 21st century, Indian women have made immence contribution in the field of science, sports and advendutre, fine arts and music. Lata Mangeshkar created a world record of singing maximum number of recorded songs. Kalpana Chawla orbited in space. Kiran Bedi, Aruna Roy and Medha Patkar were honoured with the prestigious Magsaysay award for their contributions to society. In the field of sports and adventure, Arti Saha swam across the English Channel, Bachendri Pal scaled Mt. Everest, while P.T. Usha, Karnam Malleswari, Mary Kom, Saina Nehwal and P.V.Sindhu won medals in international competitions.

The contributions of all these women are well known to everybody. What is less known is the silent, selfless, dedicated and determined work done by many Indian women, in the face of extreme difficulties and challenges, which is slowly changing the face of the country. Many of these women had humble origins and faced tragedies and hardships in their personal lives, but their indomitable spirit, courage and determination to serve humanity – the poor, the needy and the downtrodden surrounding them – remained undaunted. Such women have made major contributions to improve their lot and are legends in their local milieu.

The Government of India has decided to confer “Nari Shakti Puruskar” on eminent women and institutions rendering distinguished service to the cause of women especially belonging to the vulnerable and marginalized sections of the society.

These include institutional and individual awards for making outstanding contributions to women’s endeavor/community work/making a difference/women empowerment.

Nari Shakti Puruskar would carry a cash award of Rs. 1 lakh and a certificate for individuals and Institutions.

This year Ministry of Women & Child Development sought nominations from the State Governments, Union Territory Administrations, concerned Central Ministries, Non-Governmental Organizations, Universities, Institutions, Private and Public sector undertakings (PSUs) working for empowerment of women for consideration of Selection Committee under the Chairpersonship of the Minister, Ministry of Women and Child Development. In addition the Selection Committee also considered individuals and institutions other than those recommended by the State Governments/Central Ministries.

Awardees of Nari Shakti Awards, 2016


  1. State of Rajasthan
  1. Chhanv Foundation (Sheroes Café), Delhi
  1. Mizo Hmeichhe Insuihkhawm Pawl (M.H.I.P), Mizoram
  1. Sadhana Mahila Sangha, Karnataka
  1. Shikshit Rojgar Kendra Prabandhak Samiti, Rajasthan
  1. Tripunithura Kathakali Kendram Ladies Troupe, Kerala
  1. Amruta Patil,Goa
  1. Amala Akkineni, Telangana
  1. Anatta Sonney, Karnataka (Joint Award)
  1. Anoyara khatun, West Bengal
  1. B. Codanayaguy, Puducherry (Joint Award)
  1. Bano Haralu, Nagaland
  1. Deepa Mathur Rajasthan
  1. Divya Rawat, Uttarakhand
  1. Ilse Köhler Rollefson, Rajasthan
  1. Janki Vasant, Gujarat
  1. Kalpana Shankar, Tamil Nadu
  1. Kalyani Pramod Balakrishnan, Tamil Nadu
  1. Mumtaz Kazi, Mahrashatra
  1. Nandita Shah, Tamil Nadu
  1. Pallavi Fauzdar, Delhi
  1. Pamela Malhotra, Karnataka
  1. Qamar Dagar, Delhi
  1. Reema Sathe, Maharashtra
  1. Ringyuichon Vashum, Manipur
  1. Sangita Iyer, Kerala
  1. Smita Tandi, Chattisgarh
  1. Sumitra Hazarika, Assam
  1. Sunita Singh Chocken, Haryana
  1. Subha Varier, Kerala (Joint Award)
  1. Tiasa Adhya, West Bengal
  1. V. Nanammal, Tamil Nadu
  1. Zuboni Humtsoe, Nagaland

1. State of Rajasthan

Beti Bachao Beti Padhao (BBBP) was launched by the Prime Minister, on
nd 22 January, 2015 at Panipat, Haryana to address the issue of the declining
Child Sex Ratio (CSR) and other related issues of disempowerment of women
over a life-cycle continuum. It is work in progress and positive changes on
ground are visible.
The State has done lot of exemplary work through several district level
interventions to address the issue of declining child sex ratio during the last
one year. The sex ratio at birth has improved from 929 in 2015-16 to 942 (till
December, 2016). There had been a successful state-wide awareness and
advocacy campaigns for valuing the girl child. Effective implementation of
PCPNDT Act is very important component among these initiatives. Several
initiatives have been undertaken by the state like development of Impact
software to control sex selective elimination activities, making it mandatory
to install GPS system in the sonography machines, establishing 7 special
upper CJM Courts for speedy disposal of pending cases under PCPNDT Act.
State government has also declared awards under Mukhbir scheme for giving
authentic information of sex selection and conducted several decoy
operations to check the menace of sex selection elimination.
As part of the IEC campaigns of BBBP, a SMS is also being sent on the
registered mobile number of the pregnant women to create awareness
about 104 toll free number for complaining against sex-determination
activity. Programmes such as ‘Annaprashan’ and ‘Goad Bharai’ are also being
organized regularly at Anganwadi centres of all the district of Rajasthan for
pregnant women. The efforts have not only prevented gender biased
selective elimination but also ensured survival and protection of girl child.

2 Chhanv Foundation (Sheroes Hangout Caféé), Delhi

chanav foundation logo

Sheroes’ Hangout Café is the world’s first café
run by female acid attack survivors. The Café first
opened its door to public in 2015. The Café started
up in the city of Agra because the large number of
acid survivors availability in Agra or nearby places.
The cafe looks like any average café dotted close to
the Taj Mahal, serving tea and french fries. It is
more than a triumph that Sheroes Hangout has
single-handedly generated much-needed
awareness of the issue and has since branched out
from food and drink. It now houses a library, art gallery and even an activism
center. It’s set to expand even further.
Sheroes Hangout has been instrumental in empowering the five women
staff to reclaim their visibility. It has been generally observed that most
survivors of acid attack are young and their education and career is greatly
affected. As a result they start to live a covert life, aloof from the society.
Through this entrepreneurial project their careers get regenerated. They
can earn a livelihood by themselves and can also pursue their desired career.
Each one of them is assigned a chance to interact with the guests offering
them little room to hide from the public. The layout of the Café enables
cultivation of skills and confidence among these acid attack survivors. It is
even more praiseworthy for it forces the society to re-evaluate the
conventional idea of beauty.
The project is the brainchild of the Stop Acid Attacks campaign that
aimed to work as a bridge between survivors and the society, as most of the
victims of this brutal crime, isolated themselves after losing their face. Most
survivors find no hope and stay like an outcast, in solitude. This campaign
began a research to track acid attack cases and compile a data to get the
actual situation of survivors, which eventually led to the establishment of
Chhanv Foundation in 2014. The foundation stands for acid attacks survivors
and against acid attacks in India.

3.Mizo Hmeichhe Insuikhawm Pawl (M.H.I.P), Mizoram

mhip logo

Mizo Hmeichhe Insuikhawm Pawl (MHIP), the
biggest women organization in the state of
Mizoram, which has made a great impact in
promoting the status of women in Mizoram since its
existence 6th July 1974. It is the Apex Body of the
different women organization in the state and thus
all the initiatives taken up by the MHIP are
supported by the rest of the women organizations.
Creation of strong political will among the
women of Mizoram has been the major achievement of MHIP. These
achievements are reflected through 33% of reservation of women in the
Aizawl Municipal Council (AMC). Similar is the case in the Local Council (LC)
and Village Council (VC) which have been approved by the Government. The
AMC was established in 2010, and in its first elections, out of 19 seats, 6 were
allotted for women, and in the LC/VC around 700 women candidates were
allocated positions.
There have been holistic empowerment of women in the State,
especially lot of emphasis was given to the political empowerment of
women. “Mizo Customary Law’ has been replaced by ‘The Marriage, Divorce
and Inheritance Property Act of 2014’. MHIP, created a cell, which has also
been a service provider to give appropriate advice to women affected by
various forms of violence such as domestic violence, rape etc. In this
regard, they also conduct several awareness generation programmes The
awareness programmes were fruitful and influential for rape victims to
come forward and file cases against rape committers instead of hiding away.
This is one of the factors that rape cases registered are high in Mizoram
State. MHIP has also recognized as specialized Adoption Agency by State
Government and also runs Free Computer Training Centre exclusively for
Women in Aizawl City in collaboration with National Institute of Electronics
& Information Technology.

4. Sadhana Mahila Sangha, Karnataka

Sadhana Mahila Sangha works towards the
dignity and violence free right to life for all streetbased
women workers with a vision to build a world
where all marginalized communities live in an
environment of mutual respect and dignity. It has
an empowerment initiative for women in sex work
in Bangalore, Karnataka. The Sangha has been
engaged with street sex workers for over 15 years
and addresses issues of health, safety and violence
against women working in the street. Through their
efforts they reached out to thousands of women in sex work, empowering
them to gain control over resources and decision making platforms. It
provides access to counseling on sexual health and HIV prevention, health
services, and alcohol de-addiction referrals through the support from the
support group organizations.
Sadhana Mahila Sangha has made contributions to women’s endeavor
and community work by making a difference. Its work, is trying to assert a
street sex worker’s right over the city streets to earn their livelihood with
dignity and without violence, as any other working women.
Sadhana Mahila Sangha rendered services by supporting street children
and helping their parents to enhance their livelihood skills, health concerns
of women, helping children of sex workers to continue education,
preventing early child marriage, offering emotional and legal support, crisis
intervention, facilitating negotiated settlements, helping women to
enhance their livelihood options and providing shelter to needy women
through supportive social organizations and NGOs. Today the Sadhana Mahila
Sangha is working as an agent of social change and supporters of all struggles
against human trafficking, violence against women, caste-based violence
and impoverishment.

5. Shikshit Rojgar Kendra Prabandhak Samiti(SRKPS), Rajasthan

shikshit rojgar

Shikshit Rojgar Kendra Prabandhak Samiti
(SRKPS) was established on 15 August 1987 by a
group of youths along with Mr. Rajan Choudhary to
conduct welfare activities for women and children
as per regional needs. Initially the working area of
the organization was limited to Jhunjhunu district
but later it covered entire Rajasthan. Organization
has exclusively promoted girl education,
prevented child marriages & fought against dowry
practitioners for all these years.
SRKPS is functioning in Rajasthan with the aim to bring an end to sex
selective elimination. They have provided essential support to the State
Government by supporting Mukhbir Yojana. Under this scheme health
officials and district administration officials conduct decoy operations with
the support of a pregnant woman to unearth illegal practice of sex
determination. Of the 38 decoy operations conducted under this scheme in
the State of Rajasthan, 26 have been with the support of SRKPS. They have
been awarded by the government for this contribution. SRKPS has conducted
12 decoy operations in Rajasthan and published books and manuals in this
SRKPS works in collaboration with a number of national and
international organizations for implementing various projects such as the
Garv Project, Let Girls be Born, UBR Project as well as a Rath Yatra Campaign
to empower communities to realize the need for gender balance in society
and eliminate sex selection.
The work of SRKPS also extends to the areas of HIV/AIDS, preventing
drug addiction, child nutrition and reproductive care, advocacy for right to
education, universalization of birth registration, reduction in child labour,
and access to safe drinking water, water management and skill based
livelihood programmes among others.

6. Tripunithura Kathakali Kendram Ladies Troupe, Kerala


Kathakali, a well-developed dance-drama, is a
performance where traditionally male actors
depict characters from the epics of ancient India.
Tripunithura Kathakali Kendram Ladies Troupe was
formed in 1975, which was coincidentally the
International Year of Women, by a group of
immensely talented female artists. Till then this
art form was purely male dominated. It was a
period when youth festivals were gaining
momentum among the students, and there was a
section for Kathakali where few girls performed and won the prize. It was
started by a small group of women from the Cochin Royal Family, and has
grown in strength over the years.
The troupe has the record of making 800 performances all over India
including performances at the Cochin Festival. Each member of the troupe
has had training in the classical dance-drama art of Kathakali, as well as
associated art form such as music, from some of the most renowned Gurus or
teachers in the field. In the year 2002 was a milestone achieved, when the
troupe made its international debut and in three months performed 19
shows. During one of these shows, Radhika Varma, the first woman of the
troupe did a demonstration about 9/11 at Washington through this dance
The troupe started performing at the time when most women were not
allowed to perform any art form. Now it has been more than 30 years since
they have been performing. They have done about 1500 performances till
now. The biggest achievement that they feel proud about is that their troupe
has been able to inspire and encourage many girls and young women to learn
and give performances on this dance form, which has largely been
dominated by male.

7. Ms. Amruta Patil, Goa


Ms. Amruta Patil is a writer, painter and India’s
first female graphic novelist. Her novel Adi Parva
based on the Mahabharat, Puraans and tradition of
oral storytellers was selected as one of the year
2012’s best graphic novels by comic book historian
Paul Gravett.
Her work has recurring themes which include
memento mori, sexuality, myth, sustainable living
and the unbroken thread of stories passed down
from storyteller to storyteller through the ages.
Through her work, she is continuously pushing literary boundaries,
rejecting templates of how graphic novels (as defined by the
European/North American/Japanese canon) ought to be and challenging the
notion that graphic novels are, in any way, ‘lesser literature’.
Presently, she is writer-in-residence at the prestigious La Maison des
Auteurs in Angouleme, France.

8 Ms. Amala Akkineni, Telangana

Amala Akkineni Photos _7_

Ms. Amala Akkineni is co-founder and
Chairperson of Blue Cross of Hyderabad, a
registered animal welfare organization working
since 1993 for the welfare of animals in Hyderabad
and extending support to other groups. Blue Cross
has helped over 4,00,000 animals since inception
and continues to rescue, treat, re-home hundreds
of injured and abused animals every year besides
training volunteers and professionals.
For the last 23 years she has been supporting various non-goverment and
government organizations working for social change by addressing issues on
girl child welfare, rural women’s empowerment, HIV Awarness, animal
welfare, wildlife protection and preservation of the environment. In 2015,
she was appointed ambassador for the Swachch Bharat Mission by the
Ministry of Urban Development, Govt. of India and is an active volunteer.
She has had a successful career in Indian cinema completing 50 films as
leading lady in five Indian languages. Her background in films and television
and her social commitment, led her to be appointed as Director, Annapurna
International School for Films & Media. In this new role she seeks to fufill her
late father-in-law’s dream to guide young people on a skilled and informed
path for professions in Films and Media. Ms. Amala serves on the boards of
Children’s Film Society and Satyajit Ray Film Institute.
As a film personality, she is constantly available to highlight and support
issues that need focus for social change. Her personal interest includes
connecting with animals and nature.

9 Ms. Anatta Sonney, Karnataka

A n a t t a S o n n ey

Ms. Anatta Sonney did post graduation in
Mathematics from Kerala University. She joined
ISRO Satellite Centre, Bangalore in 1987 and has
been working in Flight Dynamics Group since 1989.
At present she is heading LEO and Interplanetary
Orbit Dynamics Section of Flight Dynamics Group.
Anatta Sonney is a key member in design and
development of Orbit Determination system for
Remote Sensing, Communication, Lunar and
Interplanetary missions. Her areas of interest include satellite tracking data
preprocessing, evaluation of tracking systems, orbit estimation, prediction,
simulation and related analysis. She was assigned the responsibility as
Project Manager for Orbit Determination of Mangalyaan. Her specific
contributions are in realization of precise orbit determination software
crucial for mission operations and payload data analysis. She has been
playing a major role in orbit estimation of low Earth and communication
satellites as well as Lunar and Mars mission, analyzing and improving
satellite tracking data quality for the Indian Deep Space Network stations.
She also has the credit of determining the orbit of Chandrayaan-1 precisely
which is significant for the mission operations and payload data processing.
Currently she is Deputy Project Director, Flight Dynamics for Space
Docking Experiment and responsible for providing suitable autonomous
guidance and navigation system. She is also associated in orbit
determination of Chandrayaan-2 mission to aid in precise landing on Moon.
She is recipient of Astronautical Society of India Team award for her
contribution towards Mars Orbiter Mission and ISRO Team Excellence award
for ‘Chandrayaan-1 Payload Instruments, Science Data center and Mission

10 Ms. Anoyara Khatun, West Bengal


s. Anoyara khatun, a survivor of trafficking,
works towards the prevention of child marriage,
child trafficking, child labour and domestic
violence. At the age of 13, while she was being
trafficked, she saved not only herself but a large
number of children being trafficked with her and
enabled the arrest of the trafficker.
Since 2007, she has been working with the
Dahadia Social Welfare Society. Popularly known as
‘Malala of Bengal’, she has managed to prevent the marriage of 50 minor
girls, foiled around 85 attempts of child trafficking and enabled the rescue
and reunion of more than 200 children with their families and persuaded 200
dropouts to resume their studies.
In the year 2012 she was nominated for the International Children’s
Peace Prize on account of her extraordinary efforts towards prevention of
child trafficking and early child marriages in India. She represented India in
the UNO and participated in the Global Partnership for Education
Replenishment Conference hosted by the European Union. She was also
th invited to participate in the 70 Session of the United Nations General
Assembly, New York.
An NSS volunteer she is a role model in her village and adjoining areas
for employing out of the box techniques to prevent the incidences of
trafficking and catch the traffickers. Presently, she has 80 volunteer groups
who regularly keep vigil on incidences of trafficking in rural areas of
Sundarbans of West Bengal.

11 Ms. B. Codanayaguy, Puducherry

Ms. B. Codanayaguy

Ms. B.Codanayaguy, as a Group Head of Quality
Division of Electronics, Instrumentation & Control
Systems in the Systems Reliability Entity is
responsible for ensuring the smooth functioning of
the Electronics, Instrumentation and Control
System related to Solid Motor Production, Flight
Motors/articles testing, Liquid propellant storage
and servicing facilities at the Launch Complex
facilities of Satish Dhawan Space Centre SHAR,
She joined in ISRO in August, 1984 as an Electronics & Instrumentation
Engineer, started her career in the Calibration and Test Instruments facility.
Subsequently graduated as Head of Quality division for Process
Instrumentation & Control Systems for Liquid Propellant Facilities. At
present she is working as Group Head of Quality Division for the entire
Electronics, Instrumentation & Control Systems of the Centre. As an eminent
expert on the System Reliability aspects, she plays a crucial role in review
and clearance of procedures, systems and documentation at each and every
step of Solid Motor production & Testing, Launch Complex systems.
Her specific contributions for PSLV C37 include all the solid motors for
the PSLV C37 launch vehicle- S139, HPS3 and PSOM-XL motors are produced
at SDSC SHAR and flight articles have been tested at SMP & ETF for their
reliable performance during flight. The readiness & performance of
instrumentation and control system in these areas has been ensured by her
group by strict adherence to laid down procedures and also implementation
of recommendations by various review Committees.

12 Ms. Bano Haralu, Nagaland

Bano Haralu

Ms. Bano Haralu is a pioneering television
journalist from North- East India. After a Masters
Degree in Mass Communication from Jamia Millia
University, she cut her teeth in journalism with
Doordarshan and New Delhi Television and also
headed the NE Bureau in Guwahati.
Ms. Bano Haralu has been involved with
environment conservation since 2010. She
pioneered a bird and wildlife survey for the Forest
Department leading to the publication of the book on ‘Birds of Nagaland’ and
co-ordinated a survey to determine the status of wildlife in eight locations
across the state. She along with a team highlighted the slaughter of
hundreds of thousands of the migratory Amur Falcons in Pangti under Wokha
district, Nagaland. This and other combined efforts led to convincing the
Pangti Village Council from enforcing a ban on the killing and trapping of the
Amur Falcons.
She formed the Nagaland Wildlife and Biodiversity Conservation Trust in
2013 that focuses on ‘Wildlife Conservation Education’. With support from
conservation societies/trust she has been instrumental in eastablishing four
eco-clubs for children from the age group of 9 to 14.
In 2001 she was awarded the ‘Chameli Devi Award’ for interpreting the
issues of Northeast to the rest of the country and within the region as
well.She has also received the ‘Sanctuary Wildlife Service Award’ in 2016
and was recognised for having ‘crafted one of the country’s most staggering
conservation success stories.

13 Ms. Deepa Mathur, Rajasthan

deepa mathur

Ms. Deepa Mathur founded an NGO named
Quality of Life Improvement Society (QUALIS),2008
in to promote artisans and craftsmen working in
the State of Rajasthan.
At present, QUALIS is associated with 700
artisans and 400 weavers primarily based in Kota,
Bundi, Jaipur, Kalwara, Goner and Mundia Ramsar.
Through QUALIS she works to promote the dying art
of weaving and provides funds, training and
forward linkages to artisans to showcase their products at international
In the course of their work, QUALIS has established several micro-credit
centers for lacquer artisans and provided training to more than 2000 girls
and women about safe banking methods. Through the QUALIS Connect
program, they run a full-time volunteership/internship programme with
linkages established with American Institute of Indian Studies, School of
International Training and University of Texas to place candidates in their
Ms. Mathur has received a number of awards such as Indira IVF Women
Empowerment Award 2016, Zee Women Empowerment Award 2016, Jyoti
Vidyapeeth Women Empowerment Award 2015.

14 Ms. Divya Rawat, Uttarakhand


Ms. Divya Rawat is a social entrepreneur who
promotes mushroom cultivation as a means of
sustainable livelihood among villages situated in
remote areas of Uttarakhand. She uses mushroom
cultivation as a tool to stop migration of people
from hills in search of sustainable livelihood.
She hails from a small village of District
Chamoli, Uttarakhand. After completing her postgraduation
in Social Work, she worked in a civil
society group raising the issues related to human rights.
In the year 2013, when the State of Uttarakhand was dealing with the
aftermath of terrible floods, she quit her job and moved back to Dehradun to
revive livelihood opportunities for the people affected with this terrible
Ms. Rawat decided to promote mushroom cultivation as a simple
household project so that it could be adopted by as many people as possible.
Along with her friends, she identified remote villages and started mushroom
production units. Her successful business model for production and practical
training centre has won many accolades. Popularly known as ‘the Mushroom
Lady’, she is the Brand Ambassador of Uttrakhand State Government for
Mushroom Promotion.

15 Dr. Ilse Köhler Rollefson, Rajasthan

iise kohler rollefson

Dr. Ilse Köhler Rollefson, a veterinarian who
arrived in Rajasthan in 1991 for a research project
on animal husbandry, has dedicated her life to the
Raikas (Rajasthan’s Nomadic Tribe) and camels.
She has set up an NGO called the Lokhit Pashu Palak
Sansthan (LPPS) in Pali, Rajasthan that serves as an
advocacy group for the Raikas and their camels.
She was enchanted by the intimate and
affectionate relationship between the camel and
the Raika families.
It wasn’t easy for Dr. Rollefson, to become an activist and advocate on
behalf of a community that has traditionally been wary of outsiders.
Ultimately it was her veterinary training that made the Raikas first take note
of her. Diseases were killing camels and many had miscarriages. So, she
began helping the herders treat sick animals. She recognized the need for
steady funding to help the Raika and their camels. It was then she set up
LPPS with her associate Hanwant Singh to sustain the community’s livelihood
as well as their animals. Today, LPPS helps the Raikas by providing camel
veterinary care using both traditional remedies and modern medicine. Even
the state and national government officials seek their advice.
Under the aegis of LPPS, Dr. Rollefson organizes the Marwar Camel
Culture Festival, a modest three day event held at Sadri that features
bazaars to promote camel milk and wool products, visits to a Raika village,
discussions on the future of camel rearing and even a camel milking
competition. In 2010, Dr. Rollefson set up Camel Charisma, a micro dairy
near Jaisalmer and organized camel yatras to spread awareness among local
communities across Rajasthan about what’s happening to their iconic

16 Ms. Janki Vasant, Gujarat


Ms. Janki Vasant is a founder of nongovernmental
organization Samvedana whose
motto is “not just education, but quality education
is the right of every child’. Over the past 14 years,
she is working with underprivileged communities
and rural areas around the city of Ahmedabad.
Her interventions are focused towards
strengthening the public education system, Infant
Nourishment – early care and Skill training to
achieve holistic and integrated development of socially and economically
deprived children, youth and women.
Her journey started in the year 2001, when she volunteered for overall
coordination of an earthquake shelter in Gujarat, where over 20,000
earthquake victims stayed for 2 months.
In June, 2016, she planned and initiated ‘Sattva’ a 100 day drive to
eradicate malnourishment among children through 76 Anganwadi Centres
functioning in the localities of Thaltej, Chandlodiya and Ghatlodiya in the
city of Ahmedabad.

17 Dr. Kalpana Shankar, Tamil Nadu

dr kalpana

Dr. Kalpana Shankar is Chairperson & Managing
Trustee of Hand in Hand India, an organization
working on women SHGs, livelihoods, child labour,
strengthening citizen participation and sustainable
development through Natural Resource
Management and Solid Waste Management for 21
years. It is active in 17 districts of Tamil Nadu, with
projects also in Puducherry, Karnataka and 6
districts of Madhya Pradesh. Hand in Hand’s SHG
won the Manimegalai Award for Best SHG in 2012
constituted by the Govt. of Tamil Nadu.
She has done PhD in physical sciences as well as a PhD in women’s studies
and SHGs and an Executive MBA from TRIUM. She has been a Consultant to
the Govt. of South Africa, UNOPS, UNDP, Christian Aid and Wetlands
International on poverty reduction, job creation and microfinance, and also
worked on this in Afghanistan and Brazil. She has been a Monitoring and
Evaluation Officer for the International Fund for Agricultural Development
in Tamil Nadu. She prepared the chapter on Social Welfare for the Xth Plan of
the Tamil Nadu Government as well as authored and co-authored a number
of publications and manuals on microfinance and SHGs.
She has received many awards for her work including ICTACT Women
Social Entrepreneur Award 2016 and SKOTCH Order of Merit for India’s Best
Financial Inclusion and Financial Deepening Project 2014 to Hand in Hand.
The UN Solution Exchange’s Microfinance Community Report, 2009
recognized Hand in Hand as one of the top 10 MFIs in India and NABARD
honoured them as the Best NGO in the State for Continuing Excellence in
SHG-Bank linkage program in 2009. Women empowerment, skill
development and technologies, child labour elimination, health , education
and environment are the key pillars of her organization’s work.

18 Ms. Kalyani Pramod Balakrishnan, Tamil Nadu

kalyani pramod

Ms. Kalyani Pramod is a graduate of textile
design from NID. She was always passionate about
the traditional crafts and desired to bring a sense of
design to them.She began this journey
documenting the camel belt weaving of Rajasthan
and working with the craftsmen. She documented
the Bedouin craft of the Middle East and bringing
new designs and changing the product without
changing the craft gave it a new impetus.
She worked with the Toda’s of the Nilgiris and motivated them to
present their work at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Her desire to
work with women who had simple skills had her setup Rhapsody, a company
making her designs for illustrated quilts for children, stuffed toys,
patchwork quilts in cotton and silk.
To expand her design sensibilities to other areas, she had opened a
centre for arts and crafts called Manasthala. Research, education and a
platform to present and share, allowed many to partake in the activities of
the centre.
She has done a project with the central government, working with the
poorest of the poor weavers of Tamil Nadu, over 19500 of them and visiting
them, assessing their skills, motivating them. A six year adventure
culminated in the creation of a brand and products that made these weavers
step out from their present positions.
She has been a guest faculty at NIFT Chennai for many years igniting
young minds. Today she works with the very differently-abled children and
uses their limited movement. To give them opportunities to be creative, be
transformed into products that reach many and help these children find a
purpose and a vocation.

19 Ms. Mumtaz Kazi, Maharashtra

mumtaz kazi

Ms. Mumtaz Kazi is Asia’s first woman who
drives a diesel train. She drove her first train only
at the age of 20 years. She is the face who silently
inspires and empowers the world of women by her
heroic achievements and gesture.
Born and brought up in Mumbai, she has seen
many ups and downs in the life but it’s the family
support that kept her moving. With the experience
of nearly 20 years she is now serving the most
crowded railways.
In 1995, her name featured in LIMCA Book of Records as first lady diesel
locomotive driver. In the year 2015, she was awarded with Railways General
Manager Award.

20 Dr. Nandita Shah, Tamil Nadu

dr nandita shah

Dr. Nandita Shah is a homeopath by profession
and founder of Sanctuary for Health and
Reconnection to Animals and Nature (SHARAN).
SHARAN is a non-profit organization devoted to
spreading awareness about holistic health and an
ecologically sustainable compassionate lifestyle.
Sharan’s mission is to help people regain an
optimal quality of life by guiding to engage actively
with their own health. They guide to make longterm
lifestyle changes that will make people as healthy as possible for the
rest of their life. SHARAN consists of growing group of doctors and
professionals connected by the same vision. Dr. Nandita Shah conducts
workshops and retreats, actively promote a natural, organic healthy nonviolent
diet and has already positively impacted the lives of over 20,000
people in India and aboard. She believes that all life on the planet is
interconnected. By reconnecting we can heal ourselves and the earth.
All health and disease statistics and research indicate that diabetes is
the major health challenge of this century. SHARAN assists in preventing and
reversing diabetes by identifying the causes of the disease and using food as
medicine. Dr. Nandita Shah’s methods are based on scientific evidence.
They have been used and tested by doctors all over the world and are
becoming a part of mainstream knowledge in other countries. SHARAN’s
vision is a diabetes free India.

21 Ms. Pallavi Fauzdar, Delhi


Ms. Pallavi Fauzdar is an Adventure
Motorcyclist. She has created unparallel landmarks
in the field of motorcycling which are still to be
achieved by male counterparts in a male
dominated sport. She is the first Motorcyclist in
the world to conquer 8 Mountain Passes Above
5000meters altitude in a single trip covering
3500kms of tough mountain terrain of Himachal
,Leh, Ladakh and Kashmir valley. Her feat has been
recognised by Limca Book of world record. She has
been the first motorcylist to reach the top of the highest and the toughest
mountain pass in the world, The Mana Pass, Uttarakhand at an altitude of
5638meters or 18774 feet. She is also the First Female Rider to reach the
highest lake in the world on motorcycle, the Deo Tal at an altitude of 17950
feet above sea level.
Pallavi has been using her passion for riding to do various social and
humanitarian services. She has been activily participating in community and
rides for various causes such as spreading awareness about malnutrition in
children, sex selective elimination and other activities for women
She inspired and took along an all women group of 11 riders this year in
August from Manali to Khardungla on TVS Scooty. She has taken part in
regional, state and national level activities in adventure motorcycling. She
has created numerous records at national and international level

22 Ms. Pamela Gale Malhotra, Karnataka

Pamela Malhotra

Ms. Pamela Gale Malhotra is co-founder of SAI
(Save Animals Initiative) Sanctuary. SAI Sanctuary is
located in the Kodgu/Coorg District of Karnataka.
The Sanctuary is the fulfilment of a dream and
mission to protect, preserve, and expand India’s
forests and wildlife for the benefit of India’s
present and future generations, especially for
India’s disadvantaged women and children.
She along with her husband bought the 55
acres of land and began afforestation work. After 23 years, their unmatched
passion for wildlife and nature has helped them in establishing one-of-itskind
wildlife sanctuary spread over 300 acres, the only private sanctuary in
the country. In the sanctuary itself, she has personally designed all buildings
to run with green renewable energy sources and rainwater harvesting
systems. To help spread more awareness of the critical need to protect
forests, she has given countless free presentations all over the country to
schools, colleges, women’s groups, businesses, and others, one of the latest
presentations being to 500 NCC Cadets.
Her mission has also encompassed the uplifting of women and children
especially in remote areas. She practices a concept of community-based
ecotourism by outsourcing services such as providing meals, cleaning,
laundry, etc., to local people, especially to local women including tribals, to
help give them an additional source of income. She empowered village
women to form ‘Mahila/Women’s Committees’ to acquire low-interest loans
and provided free medical help and medicines to those living in remote

23 Ms. Qamar Dagar, Delhi

qamar digar

Ms.Qamar Dagar is a professional Pictorial
Calligrapher who has been working to orient people
around the art of calligraphy. She is the founder
Director of Qalamkaari Creative Calligraphy Trust,
Delhi and has organized and curated International
Calligraphy festivals “Qalam-Aatma” in Delhi and
Jaipur. She works in Hindi and Urdu scripts using
alphabets/letters as art material giving visual
interpretation to a chosen theme.
She is trying to revive art of calligraphy in its traditional and
contemporary forms so that it may become a fruitful career option for future
She has exhibited in many exhibitions and represented India at
International Calligraphy Festival at Iran. She is regular Project participant
of Russia based MVK Contemporary Museum of Calligraphy, Moscow. Her
pictorial calligraphy works are showcased at Museum of Spiritual Art (MOSA),
Belgium (2014) and in private collections across India, US and Europe. Most
recently some of her works were acquired by the King of Bhutan, the former
Prime Minister of Bangladesh and also the Minister for Foreign Affairs of
A diehard fan of all fine and visual arts, she tries to integrate the
elements of music and visual art through her pictorial contemporary
calligraphy work. Her own interpretation of words, themes, expressions and
even poetry get reflected in her creations.
She has received Women’s International Network award (2012).

24 Ms. Reema Sathe, Maharashtra


Ms. Reema Sathe is Founder & Director – Happy
Roots Foods & Beverages India Pvt. Ltd., a social
enterprise that works on socio economic
development and inclusive growth of marginal
farmers and rural women in India. She has
developed a direct agri-produce sourcing network
of 12,000 small and tribal farmers in Maharashtra.
She quit her corporate career in the year 2014 and
since then has worked with over 20,000 small &
tribal farmers in Gujarat & Maharashtra; and built
value chains for onion, tomato, grains and poultry products. In the last 2
years of it’s establishment, Happy Roots has impacted 12,000 small & tribal
farmers and 1,500 rural women through it’s work. They also conserve &
protect over 120 varieties of indigenous crops and find them high potential
She is working in Vidarbha to grow Barley which is never grown in the
region and built a complete value chain for supply of processed Barley to
Microbreweries in Maharashtra. She has worked on conceptualizing and
developing a community poultry farm for tribal women farmers in
Maharashtra. This farm would aim at breeding indigenous birds.
She has been selected by Unlimited India to become a part of their social
enterprise incubator in Mumbai and IIM-Ahmedabad’s social enterprise
incubator (2014). Her work has been covered and recognized by several
national and regional media platforms in India. Ms. Reema has also briefly
served as a UN Volunteer and worked on projects for women empowerment
in Africa and child education in India.

25 Ms. Ringyuichon Vashum, Manipur


Ms. Ringyuichon Vashum is a Social Activist for
Women and Child Rights Issues in Ukhrul District,
Manipur. Since 2008 she is serving as Credit
Manager for Ukhrul District Women Institute of
Micro-credit (UDWIM), an offshoot of IFAD/
NERCORMP Project and an apex body of 745 Women
Self Help Groups (SHGs) comprising of more than
130000 illiterate and semi literate members. She
has been constantly working for empowering the
underprivileged women through micro credit by
orienting and monitoring their Income Generating
Activities (IGAs). She counsels and encourages them for alternative
livelihood from growing marijuana/ganja or poppy for opium or illicit sale of
narcotic drugs, etc. to handloom weaving, embroidery, food and fruit
processing, organic farming, poultry and so on. Campaigns for grass root
banking literacy and convergence.
She has been catalyzing intra district/inter zonal exchange programs
among SHG Women leaders and promoted closer relationships among
different sections/villages. This initiative has impacted transparency,
recognition, trust, entrepreneur motivation, confidence for leadership and
participation in decision-making bodies in the traditional village councils &
district level organizations.
She is a forerunner for awareness on HIV/AIDS, Stigma & Harm
Reduction as many members are affected ones. At the district level and at
the backdrop of a patriarchal society, she strongly campaigns for Gender
Sensitization and The Pre-Conception & Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques
(Prohibition for Sex Selection) (PCPNDT) Act 2003.
Involved against Child & Women Trafficking she has worked two terms
(2007-2013) as Member Secretary, Child Welfare Committee, Ukhrul District
Social Welfare Dept., Govt. of Manipur. She has been honored for remarkable
work and dedication for Women & Peace Issues in North East India by Manipur
Women Gun Survivors Network and Control Foundation of India.

26 Ms. Sangita Iyer, Kerala


Ms. Sangita Iyer is a multiple award-winning
nature and wildlife journalist, documentary film
maker and biologist. She is the Executive Producer
& Director of the internationally acclaimed and
United Nations nominated documentary “Gods in
Shackles” – that reveals the truth behind the
glamorous cultural festivals where temple
elephants are exploited for profit under the guise
of culture and religion.
Having worked in the media for over a decade, she harnesses the power
of sounds and images in her documentary films to deliver effective
environmental messages. In 2009, she co-founded the Bermuda
Environmental Alliance, a non-profit organization dedicated to educating
the public on environmental issues, and providing practical solutions that
would foster environmental stewardship. She has also hosted, directed and
produced a six part series “Bermuda – Natures’s Jewel” which is currently
being used as an educational aid in Bermuda’s schools. A four-part miniseries
was featured on Discovery Channel Canada’s Daily Planet show, which
draws more than four million viewers.
In September 2012 Ms. Sangita was one of the few Canadians selected
for The Climate Reality Project training by America’s former Vice President,
Al Gore, which further inspired her to write for The Huffington Post. She has
received numerous awards including the “Founder’s Award for Leadership,
Sustainability, and Personal Development” in May 2013, and the “Award of
Excellence” for her Masters’ thesis documentary, Connecting the Dots:
television news media and climate change, at the International Film Festival
for Environment, Health and Culture in Indonesia.

27 Ms. Smita Tandi, Chattisgarh

samita tandi

Ms. Smita is a constable, but unlike any you
may have come across. Ms. Smita along with her
friends started a group ‘Jeevandeep’in 2015 to
provide financial help to poor people in order to
enable them to access medical treatment. They
collect money through their Facebook page which
has 7 lakh followers.
In the year 2013, her father died as she did not
have enough money to pay for the medical
treatment he required. This made her realise the plight of thousands of
people who die because of lack of money. She decided to take action and
opened a Facebook page to collect money for those who require the same to
access medical treatment.
Before collecting money for any person, she visits the person and after
due verification issue a plea for collection of money towards medical
treatment. She has never counted on how many people she has helped by
raising money through Facebook, but it must be in hundreds. She has played
volleyball at national & state level.

28 Ms. Sumitra Hazarika, Assam

sumitra hazarika

Ms. Sumitra Hazarika is an international medal
winner Athlete and President of Mission for
Integration, Gender Equalization, Harmony and
Fight against Threat (MIGHT). She has been working
in the field of women welfare since 1982 and
received many awards for her social work. She is an
activist with missionary zeal for eradication of
various social ills viz. child marriage, dowry
demand, child labour, child and women trafficking,
domestic violence and sexual abuses of women at
work place etc. She is also an author and writing columns in newspapers and
She has been successful in persuading parents not to marry their minor
children. She is using the tool of community policing to stop the trafficking
of women and children in the State of Assam. She counsels elders and
parents of vulnerable segment of the society which result in two-way
benefits; one, it creates awareness in the society and enable vulnerable
individuals to resist any temptation from the traffickers, who are often
disguised in various hues; and secondly, victims, post their rescue can be
expected to gel with society smoothly again when society is properly
informed and sensitized. Apart from conducting such counseling routinely,
she has been personally involved in rescuing five girls / women victims from
various parts of the country.

29 Ms. Sunita Singh Chocken, Haryana


Ms. Sunita Singh Chocken is die-hard
mountaineer with around 10 years of experience in
Mountaineering, Rock climbing and water-sports.
Ms. Sunita is a person whose passion dwells from
conquering the most difficult tasks be it personal
life or professional. She is the youngest girl of
Haryana to have scaled the highest peak, Mt,
Everest by 2011.
She is also the Brand Ambassador of “Beti
Bachao, Beti Padhao” campaign from district Rewari, Haryana and received
Bharat Gaurav Award in 2013. Ms. Sunita’s dedication to support the
campaign talks volumes of her in what she wants to achieve for her
motherland India. She is focused to

30 Ms. Subha Varier.G, Kerala

subha varier

Ms. Subha Varier. G, a graduate from CET,
Trivandrum in Electronics and Communication
Engineering joined ISRO in December 1991.
Presently she is heading the Video Systems
Development Section in Avionics Entity, VSSC. She is
responsible for developing various onboard systems
like Video processing electronics based on JPEG &
MPEG, SD & HD Cameras, DSP based Data processing
Units for Scientific payloads, Real Time Decision
system for Liftoff, different types of onboard data recorders etc.
She was instrumental in inducting and globalizing onboard Video Systems
in all the ISRO Launch vehicle programmes. Video system has been inducted
for the first time in PSLV in 2016 with multiple cameras for viewing all
separation events. PSLV C37 mission was very significant due to the fact that
the vehicle carried 104 satellites from 6 different nations.
A full fledged video system, conceptualised, configured and
realized by her, was employed in the mission to confirm the collision
free separation of all the satellites in the mission. PSLV being an
operational vehicle and used for multi satellite deployment for worldwide
users, it is essential to have images of critical separating events
of stages and satellites as proof of performance, from the technical
and commercial point of view. These images helped in quick look post
flight data analysis. Further, it provided good video content for public
viewing, expanding the avenues of this operational vehicle.

31. Ms. Tiasa Adhya, West Bengal


Ms. Tiasa Adhya is a conservationist; she started
the Fishing Cat Project in 2010 to conserve Fishing
Cats in the human dominated Howrah district in West
Bengal and to mainstream its conservation. To
address the pervasive lack of awareness about the
endangered felid, she did a campaign to sensitize
locals about the cat’s global threatened status and
about the legal implications of killing it. She tried to
instill a sense of pride in conserving their State Animal
which is threatened due to ongoing habitat
destruction. She along with her team emphasized on
women’s participation in such programs and held
meetings with women self-help groups.
She collaborated with elected local representatives of three tiers –village,
block and district, for devolution of ownership and responsibilities for Fishing
Cat conservation. As a fruitful collaboration, the highest tier declared its
resolution to form Fishing Cat Protection Committees (FCPCs) at the village and
block levels. Till date all the committees formed comprise atleast 33% women
representatives, 10% Schedule Caste/ Schedule Tribes, in an attempt to bring all
sections of society on board.
After an event of Fishing Cat hunting last year, she along with her team
launched an international petition to arrest five hunters in August, 2015. The
petition had more than 5,500 signatories from 48 countries within 3 days
resulting in the hunters getting arrested. She further collaborated with the
Forest Department to spread awareness including the circulation of a film on
Fishing Cat in local TV channels every hour.
She works with local and national media to highlight the issue of Fishing Cat
hunting outside Protected Areas and that of local conservation initiatives. She
focuses on creating awareness and engaging the general public in 18 villages to
generate Support for Fishing Cat conservation and to address conflict. These
villages form a unique matrix of marshy reed cultivation and small scale
pisciculture that facilitates the cat’s persistence.

32 Ms. V. Nanammal, Tamil Nadu


Ms. V. Nanammal is a Nonagenarian (97 year
old) yoga enthusiast. Practicing yoga since she was
8, she has mastered more than 50 kinds of asanas.
She comes from a family that has been practicing
this ancient Indian practice for generations which
she learnt from her grandfather. Her five children
also practice and teach yoga. She has been
inspiring an entire generation to take up the yoga
She has also taught yoga to school kids and spreads awareness about its
benefits to her village people. She has rejected offers from several yoga
federations across the world on account of not knowing English; recently she
has even attempted a Guinness record. She follows a very strict routine. She
is an advocate of Naturopathy. Living close to nature and knowing its rhythm
keeps her energetic and active. She believes in sharing tips about medicinal
plants with people who come to visit her.
As many as 600 students of Nanammal are teaching yoga across the
world. She was recognized in 2003 when she participated in a yoga
competition, she has participated in 100 competitions so far. Till now she has
won many gold medals and trophies in different competitions. Now, 36
members of her family are yoga practitioners.

33. Ms. Zuboni,Humtsoe, Nagaland


Ms. Zuboni Humtsoe founded a company
named Preciousmelove (PML) in 2011, through
Facebook with an initial capital of Rs. 3500, saved
from college scholarship money. PML managed by
an all girls team is an online fashion brand selling
premium Nagaland designs for women,
accessories, vintage clothing and handicrafts.
PML promotes talented young models,
photographers, stylists, seamstresses, doll-makers
and provide them a platform to sell their products and designs.
In the year 2015, she started ‘Nungshiba’ Handicrafts division of PML,
which recycles waste fabrics from textile manufacturing units to create
beautiful handmade dolls of Northeast India. This initiative has been very
successful in empowering differently-abled women and school drop-outs by
providing them employment and in turn leading towards their
In June, 2016, PML launched its own e-commerce website becoming the
first fashion e-commerce site from Northeast India managed by an all girls
team. The company also conducts ‘Entrepreneurship Training/workshop’ in
different rural/urban schools, institutes and colleges.