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Thanking India’s Unsung Heroes: Plan India Celebrates Nation’s Last Mile Champions

Plan India Impact Awards 2018 was held in New Delhi on July 27, where eminent personalities like Amitabh Kant and Shabana Azmi were the chief guests.


This article has been published in partnership with Plan India

Plan India is a nationally registered non-profit organisation that has been striving to advance children’s rights and equality for girls since 1979, and as a result, creating a lasting impact in the lives of vulnerable and excluded children and their communities.

For the last 39 years, Plan India and its partners, which include stakeholders from public institutions to grass-root level community volunteers, have extensively invested in improving the lives of millions of children and the youth by helping them gain access to protection, quality education and healthcare services, a healthy environment, livelihood opportunities and participation in decisions which affect their lives.

All of this wouldn’t have been possible without the selfless and persistent efforts of the numerous functionaries who joined hands with Plan India.

Courtesy: Plan India.

To recognise and celebrate their outstanding contributions in transforming its goals and objectives into measurable reality, the organisation officially launched the Plan India Impact Awards last year.

“Plan India is committed to building a strong linkage between communities and government service providers at village, district, state and national levels to reach the most disadvantaged sections of society and the award is a demonstration of this commitment that acknowledges the outstanding efforts of community frontline workers and volunteers while encouraging documentation and dissemination of best practices,” said Bhagyashri Dengle, Executive Director, Plan India.

They had aimed not just to recognise the efforts of the last mile champions but also to provide them with an impetus to persist in their efforts, and reinforce their best practices in the field.

The areas that were covered under the programme included Integrated Child Development Services, Health, Water, Sanitation and Hygiene, Prevention of Parent to Child Transmission of HIV/AIDS, Plan India community volunteers, and youth champions.

Back with its second edition, this year’s Plan India Impact Awards was held in New Delhi on July 27, where eminent personalities like Amitabh Kant, CEO, NITI Aayog, and Shabana Azmi, veteran actor & social activist, were the chief guests who presented the awards to the winners.

Last mile champions honoured for their exceptional contributions at the Plan India Impact Awards 2018. Courtesy: Plan India.

Also, Govind Nihalani, Chair Emeritus, Plan India Governing Board, and Rathi Vinay Jha, Chairperson, Plan India Governing Board, were the other notable delegates gracing the event.

“What really defines these awards is the cause. There are very few platforms where the spotlight is on the people who tirelessly work behind the scenes, expecting nothing in return. In my long journey as a social activist, I see that the grassroots workers are always at the forefront of helping local communities to bring positive and sustainable change.

“It is remarkable to see how a little bit of encouragement generates a different level of confidence and a true sense of empowerment in these community leaders,” Shabana Azmi said at the event.

Building on the previous leg of the awards, this year’s objectives also focused on promoting youth participation and capacity development through a community-centric, comprehensive nomination & selection process at local, regional & national levels.

Veteran actor and social activist, Shabana Azmi speaking at the event. Courtesy: Plan India.

An additional objective of the 2018-leg had been to document and disseminate best practices from the field, bolstering outstanding performers and existing programmes to continue their life-changing efforts.

The award ceremony followed a comprehensive two-month method that included outreach and orientation of more than 190 NGO partners, enlisting nominations across 22 states, followed by a stringent process review by process partner PricewaterhouseCoopers. These were then followed by Regional Jury Deliberations across the north, south and east and northeast regions and finally the National Jury Selection, leading us to the winners.

The awards were distributed over seven categories, winners of which are as follows:

Azmi awarding one of the Plan India functionaries. Courtesy: Plan India.

1. Anganwadi Worker: Kanaklata Raula, Odisha

2. Accredited Social Health Activist (ASHA Worker): Anupam Singh, Uttar Pradesh

3. NGO Outreach Worker: Pitabas Majhi, Odisha

4. Community Volunteer: Bhagirathi Moharana, Odisha

5. Youth Champion for Girls’ Rights: Pari Singh, Jharkhand

6. Best Child Welfare Committee: Thane, Maharashtra

7. Best School Management Committee: Jhajju, Bikaner district, Rajasthan

“It is encouraging to receive such a national-level recognition. I believe our role is critical in both a mother’s and child’s wellbeing and this recognition will not only motivate me but also my co-workers,” said Kanaklata Raula, the awardee in the Anganwadi Worker category, who has spent 24 years of her life for women and child healthcare information and support.

(Edited by Shruti Singhal)

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Written by Lekshmi Priya S

Shuttling between existentialist views and Grey's Anatomy, Lekshmi has an insanely disturbing habit of binge reading. An ardent lover of animals and plants, she also specializes in cracking terribly sad jokes.