Mumbai: Circles formed by multicoloured spotlights swirled on the stage of the National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA) here on Wednesday as luminaries of different societal hues stepped into them to receive the Rajiv Gandhi awards.
The awards are an annual tribute to the former Prime Minister by Charan Singh Sapra, a member of the Maharashtra Legislative Council and vice-president of the Mumbai Congress. As was done every year, the 12th edition of the awards was held on the eve of Rajiv Gandhi’s birth anniversary.
Nineteen-year-old Krushnaa Patil, the second youngest Indian girl to scale Mount Everest, bagged the award in the women achiever category. The girl said she now wanted to “create awareness of the effects of global warming such as melting glaciers.”
The award in the super achiever category went to Indian Space Research Organisation Chairman G. Madhavan Nair. Reminiscing about an occasion when Rajiv Gandhi attended a rocket launch that failed, Mr. Nair quoted the former Prime Minister as having said: “We have fumbled but not fallen flat.” Mr. Nair said India had come a long way since then, with even space tourism looking like a viable enterprise a few years from now.
India’s space research stands on the pillars of its education, and the award in this category went to Planning Commission member Narendra Jadhav. The man, who moved away from his childhood ambition of becoming a gangster to obtain B.Sc., M.A. and Ph.D degrees, said, “Education is the only thing that can change an entire generation.”
The social entrepreneurship award went to Supernani Rajshree Birla, whose orphanage in Mumbai has provided vocational training to over 1,500 underprivileged children.
Rohit Kochhar used to do the rounds of Delhi courts on a paltry salary of Rs. 1,100 and on a second-hand motorbike when he started his career. His law firm now enjoys international repute, in recognition of which he received the young entrepreneur award.
Sam Pitroda, who started the “Yellow Revolution” in India in 1980 with the now-ubiquitous STD and PCO booths, received the global Indian award. However, he could not attend the ceremony as he was in Chicago, U.S., for a dinner engagement with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Abhinav Bindra won the sports award for being the first individual to win an Olympics gold for India, while 13-year-old Avika Gor won the young prodigy award for her much acclaimed role in the serial ‘Balika Vadhu’.
Ramesh Chandra Agarwal, chairman of the Dainik Bhaskar group of newspapers, won the award in the journalism category. Vineet Jain, owner of the Times Group, received the award in the industrialist category. Katrina Kaif received the award in the best actress category and Shahid Kapoor in the best actor category.