Unsung heroes in Padma Shri award list

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New Delhi, Jan 25 (IANS) From conservation of Asian elephants to treating thousands of cancer patients at zero cost — there are several awardees who were on Saturday selected for Padma Shri Award ahead of the 71st Republic Day.
Ravi Kannan, also known Silchar’s saviour, is a surgical oncologist from Chennai, who has treated over 70,000 cancer patients free of cost in Barak valley. The treatment includes accommodation, food, employment and spreading awareness.
He is known to have transformed the rural cancer centre into a full-fledged hospital and research centre. He quit his job in Chennai and shifted to Assam with family in 2007 to make healthcare accessible in the Barak valley, where before his intervention, the nearest hospital was 300 km away.
Kushal Knowar Sarma, a veterinarian in Guwahati, has devoted his life to the conservation of Asian elephants. Interestingly, he has not taken a single weekend off in the last 30 years. He is acclaimed for treating more than 700 elephants every year.
He has pioneered research in elephant anesthetics, especially using remote tranquilizing injection technique.
Arunoday Mondal, also known as ‘Sunderban ke Sujan’ is a doctor who travels six hours every weekend to treat patients in remote Sundarban villages. More than 250 people, 80% of whom are poor, are treated every weekend across a range of treatments from heart to eyes, thyroid, gynaecology & paediatrics.
He also arranges medicines, conducts medical camps and blood donation drives. He set up Sujan Sundarban, a free medical service centre at his residence in Chandanpur after Bengal floods in the year 2000.
Jagdish Lal Ahuja, who is also known as ‘Langar Baba,’ is being awarded Padma Shri for “selflessly organising langars for 500-plus poor patients daily for over two decades in Chandigarh”. Ahuja also provides patients with financial assistance and clothes.
The list also includes Yogi Aeron, known as Himalaya’s helping hand. He started Helping Hand, Dehradun, and is dedicated to providing medical help to the hill people. He treats over 500 patients free of cost every year. The patients include those suffering from burns or are mauled by animals.
His patients are mostly poor, hill women from remote villages in the Himalayas. He has organized 14 days’ camps in remote villages for the last 13 years.
Another Padma Shri awardee, Sharif aka ‘Chacha Sharif,’ is a resident of Faizabad in Uttar Pradesh. The government said that Sharif, a bicycle mechanic, has been performing the last rites of thousands of unclaimed dead bodies for the last 25 years.
Among the other “unsung heroes” who will be awarded the Padma Shri is Tulasi Gowda, also known as the “Encyclopaedia of Forest” due to her vast knowledge of diverse species of plants and herbs, despite not having any formal education.
Gowda, despite growing up in poverty in a backward community, planted and nurtured thousands of trees over the past 60 years. “Even at the age of 72, she continues to nurture plants and share her knowledge with the people, carrying forward the message of environment protection,” the government said.
Another recipient is Mundayoor, also known as ‘uncle Moosa’ of Arunachal, who has been promoting education and reading culture in remote areas of Arunachal Pradesh for the last four decades.
Harekala Hajjaba is an orange vendor from Harekala village in Mangaluru, Karnataka, popularly known as ‘Akshara Santa’ or ‘Saint of Letters’. He saved up money from selling oranges and started a primary school to educate the children in his village in Mangaluru, according to a report in the BBC. A few years later, he started a high school for students aged 10 to 14 in the same village.
Sanjeev Bikhchandani, founder and vice-chairman of Naukri.com, India’s leading job site, has also been named for Padma Shri. According to a Home Ministry statement, Bikhchandani has been given Padma Shri in the category of trade and industry.
Besides them, 12 foreign nationals also made it to the list of 118 Padma Shri awardees this year.

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