The lionhearted yet humble, Mahatma Gandhi stated, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”
Sometimes the unarmed, but brave, have the greater power. It’s an under-examined quality that can change the world. And when real life provides examples of valour, our faith in human nature is enhanced. Take these women who fought relentlessly, challenging the status-quo, and ushered a positive social impact. These women whose achievements have remained relatively unsung have been conferred Padma awards on the occasion of Republic Day this year.
Usha Chaumar from Alwar, Rajasthan was once a manual scavenger for several decades, now she heads a prestigious NGO and is an inspiration to all. Usha Chaumar raises awareness against manual scavenging and has been honoured for her outstanding service in social work.
Tulasi Gowda is known as the ‘Encyclopedia of forest’ for her vast knowledge of plants and herbs. For decades, the 72-year-old environmentalist, who has not received any formal education, from the Halakki tribe has worked to raise awareness about forest conservation. The lady from Honalli village in Karnataka, has single-handedly planted more than 1,00,000 trees in the state.
Chosen for the Padma Bhushan award, Krishnammal Jagannathan and her husband founded Land for Tillers’ Freedom (LAFTI) in 1981 to work toward justice and land rights for the Dalit class in Tamil Nadu through housing and farmland provisions. Krishnammal Jagannathan has worked tirelessly towards uplifting the condition of the landless, poor people in the southernmost state of the country.