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Saraswathi Gora selected for Basava Puraskar

By Our Special Correspondent

BANGALORE, APRIL 4. Ms. Saraswathi Gora, a social worker from Vijayawada in Andhra Pradesh, has been selected for the Basava Puraskar (national award) conferred by the Karnataka Government.

The Minister of State for Kannada and Culture, Ms. Rani Satish along with the Secretary to Government, Kannada and culture, Mr. A.R.Chandrahasa Gupta, and the Director of Kannada and Culture, Mr. K.C.Ramamurthy, told presspersons here today that the award was meant to be given to a person of national eminence who had worked for social transformation conforming to the ideals of the social reformer, Basaveshwara. The award carried a purse of Rs. 1.50 lakh.

The 88-year-old Ms. Gora would most likely be presented the award on April 26 on the occasion of Basava Jayanthi. The date for the awards ceremony would be fixed after receiving Ms. Gora's confirmation and ascertaining the availability of the Chief Minister, Mr. S.M.Krishna. Ms. Gora is the recipient of the G.D.Birla International Award for Humanism (recently announced by a jury headed by the Vice-President, Mr. Krishan Kant); the Jamnalal Bajaj Award; the Janaki Devi Bajaj Award; and the Potti Sriramulu Telugu University Award.

Ms. Rani Satish said Ms. Gora's life was a saga of struggle for social change and she was a source of inspiration to many people. She had dedicated her life to promotion of human values, secular social changes on Gandhian lines and comprehensive and sustainable development through human resource development. Her humanist activities covered a broad spectrum encompassing education, health, community development, women empowerment, social equality, dispelling of superstitions and so on. A high- level committee comprising Dr. G.S.Shivarudrappa, Dr. H.Narasimhaiah, Dr. P.S.Srinivas, Prof. B.Sheikh Ali, Mr. G.R.Channabasappa and Mr. A.R.Chandrahasa Gupta had selected Ms. Saraswathi Gora for the Basava Puraskar.

Ms. Gora had in the 1930s championed and performed devadasi marriages and widow remarriages. When Mahatma Gandhi came to know about the efforts of Mr. and Ms. Gora to abolish untouchability and the caste system, and towards social reform, he expressed a desire to meet them. They were invited to Sevagram Ashram in 1944 and the couple stayed there for a few weeks. Unmindful of criticism, opposition and social boycott from certain upper castes, Ms. Saraswathi Gora along with a team of dedicated workers carried on social reform. Even to this day, she is active in the Atheist Centre at Vijayawada which she founded in 1940.

Referring to the activities of the Department of Kannada and Culture, Ms. Rani Satish said the Kuvempu Bhavan under construction at Kuppalli, the hometown of Kuvempu in Tirthahalli taluk of Shimoga District, would be inaugurated by the Chief Minister, Mr. S.M.Krishna on April 7. The State Government had contributed Rs. 40 lakhs for the building.

A Kala Grama encompassing the culture of the State would come up on a 20-acre plot given to the Department of Kannada and Culture by the Bangalore University on its Jnana Bharati campus. The Union Minister for Culture, Mr. Ananth Kumar, had assured the State Government that the Centre would also participate in the project. The construction of the Chalukya Bhavan adjoining the Kannada Bhavan here was also under progress, and it would provide space for the offices of the various academies.

Ms. Rani Satish said the Government would also float tenders to appoint contractors to take charge of the entry of visitors to the Mysore Palace. The office of the Director of Archaeology of the State Government, which had been shifted to Hampi would commence functioning from April 9. The office of the Deputy Director would, however, continue at Mysore.

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