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Madhur Tankha
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12 honoured with Godfrey Phillips Bravery Awards

The winners: Recipients of the Godfrey Phillips Bravery National Awards-2010 in New Delhi on Thursday. Photo: R. V. Moorthy
The winners: Recipients of the Godfrey Phillips Bravery National Awards-2010 in New Delhi on Thursday. Photo: R. V. Moorthy

Twelve extraordinary individuals who battled insurmountable odds to make a difference to the lives of others were on Thursday honoured with Godfrey Phillips Bravery National Awards-2010.

Four caring and sensitive bravehearts who didn't think twice before sacrificing their lives won the award posthumously in the physical bravery category.

Mahesh Chand Sanghi's act of courage will become a part of folklore in Rajasthan. Just three years short of retirement, he was returning to the Bank of Baroda with a colleague when two men on a motorcycle snatched a box containing Rs.10 lakh. “The robbers shot my husband's colleague and snatched the box from him. But Mahesh managed to retrieve it. He fought bravely and even managed to uncover a robber's face. However, his other accomplice shot him. He knew his responsibilities as a head cashier,” said Manju Sanghi.

Tanmay Mathur's act of supreme sacrifice is still etched in the minds of his colleagues who had gone with him to Corbett National Park for a holiday. “Tanmay and his colleagues went to the nearby Kosi river. But the water level started rising and trapped almost all of them. Since Tanmay could swim he saved his friends from getting drowned. He saved several lives but one of his female colleagues held him so tightly that he lost his balance and got drowned,” said Piyush Mathur, who still has not come to terms with his younger brother's death.

The other two who won in the physical bravery category posthumously were Tanmoy Nag and Thomas Fernandes.

Sarita Dwivedi's life turned upside down when she was four. A power line fell on her. A fighter, she came out of the hospital alive but without her limbs. She walks on artificial legs and has no hands but hasn't lost hope. “I use my creativity to overcome my disabilities. I grew up like a normal child and my family has been extremely supportive. Whenever I get time from studies, I paint. It is my ambition to pursue Bachelor of Fine Arts from Allahabad University,” said Sarita, a Class XII student.

Achint Babber, a special child with learning disabilities, won gold at the Special Olympics World Summer Games in China in 2007. “When my son was three we came to know that he is a special child. We taught him swimming for fun sake. I would be in the pool with him for an hour or two. Gradually his swimming improved,” said Kanchan Babber, an employee of the Delhi Development Authority.

Achint and Sarita won the awards in the mind-of-steel category. In the social lifetime achievement category, Jaya Arunachalam, President of Working Women's Forum, and Vikram Akula, who works for empowerment of poor women, were honoured. In Amodini category, Dolat Kotwal, representing Women's India Trust of Maharashtra, received the award.

In social acts of courage category, orthopaedic doctor N.V.S. Kiran Kumar, Ashok Pavaskar of Mahilashram and Nityendra Manav received the award.

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