Unsung heroes got their moment under the sun at the "People Of The Year" award function organised by the Limca Book of Records. RANA SIDDIQUI reports

Grit, gumption, humility and hard work, they combine all these to be winners in their respective fields. Meet them this year, the men and women who have just been conferred People of the Year-2007 Award by the Limca Book of Records. They include George Abraham, Hmangte Chunneijang Marykom, Chewang Norphel, and Dr. Devi Prasad Shetty besides music maestro A.R. Rahman and tennis icon Mahesh Bhupati. Said Rahman, "I was in Glasgow when I got to know about the award. I flew from there to receive it. Selecting young people as winners helps send the Indian youth the right message to do something for the cause of the country."Now Rahman also assists the talented but lesser-privileged visually impaired children through his newly formed Rahman Education Foundation. Just recently Rahman chose three visually impaired children to sing in a programme. "These children sang unbelievably well. The then Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu was sitting among the audience. He was to go within a few minutes but after he heard them, he kept sitting throughout the programme. Now, these children will sing in my forthcoming film. One of them, Veeru from Bangalore has sung in Provoked also," he chuckles. George Abraham has not only popularised cricket for the blind across the globe by organising two world cups but also has now also founded a Magiktuch Talent Management Company which promotes professional blind musicians. Abraham is still at work. He shares, "I have now launched a national help desk for the visually-challenged which will become a 24-hour call centre within three years. Its number is 9968329329. On this number these people can call between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. to seek information on facilities available for them in terms of schools, jobs, rights and so on."


Frail looking 25-year-old Marykom exudes great energy through her simple conversation in broken English. "When I decided to take up boxing, my parents said it is not for girls. If my opponent hits me wrongly, I would develop impairment and no one will marry me. But I pursued and had a love marriage with a social worker," says Marykom, shy despite three world titles.Seventy-year-old Norphel defies his age. A civil engineer, he is the only Indian to build artificial glaciers in Leh. "After retirement from a Government job I decided to conserve ice water which goes waste for six months when the snow-capped region starts melting in summers. I have been constructing such glaciers for 10 years and now we have I0 million cubic feet ice conserved which helps poverty-stricken farmers of the region to save their fields."While Bhupati and Shetty weren't present on the occasion, Anjali Alexandar, secretary Mobile Crèches gave heart-rending details of how short-term construction workers are not even citizens of India for they don't have any identity card and only 1400 long-term construction workers are registered. Mobile Crèches looks after the welfare of the children (3 to12-year-olds) of construction workers. Did any one say it takes just one step to take another?