The Padma Shri Award is one of the highest civilian awards given to the extraordinary gems in India who must always be remembered for their spontaneity and dedication towards the welfare of humankind. Today, we are going to talk about one of those extraordinary humans, 87-year-old Shanti Devi from Odisha, who had been conferred the Padam Shri award for her exceptional contribution to social service since 1951.
About Shanti Devi (Life and Career)
Shanti Devi is a social activist and a Gandhian leader residing in the Rayagada District of Odisha. She has sought to become a woman fully committed to social service which has led her towards becoming a recipient of the Padma Shri Award.
She was born on April 18, 1934, in the Balasore district of Odisha and got married at the age of 17 to Ratan Das who was a follower of Mahatma Gandhi. Her career in social work began from Gobarapalli in Rayagada where she founded an ashram and started working for the welfare, education, and development of Tribal Girls.
Shanti Devi has worked not only for the development of women but also in different sectors for human welfare! She founded an ashram for treating leprosy patients at Jabarguda, Rayagada District. Later when she shifted to Gunupur, she established Seva Samaj Ashram in the year 1964 so as to provide the right to education to the Tribal girls. Shanti Devi says that the main motive throughout her life has been to focus on making the women “self-sufficient” so that they can have self-respect in society and contribute to the development of the Nation.
Shanti Devi has also been working with an aim to restore peace in the Maoist affected areas of Odisha.
– Further Contributions:
1. Working towards the upliftment for the orphans and destitute children in India, Shanti Devi set up an ashram in Gunupur for providing education and vocational training for their skill-building.
2. Being a Gandhian leader, Shanti Devi has been associated with a number of Gandhian organizations working for the welfare of people.
3. She established many day-nurseries/creches towards the care for students and also introduced nutritional breakfasts in schools for children.
4. She has also worked with Acharya Vinoba Bhave and rendered her support for the Bhoo-Daan Movement.
5. Shanti Devi is highly inspired by Acharya Vinoba Bhave, and hence, she has written a book on his life titled “Ahinsara Anvesana”.
6. With her team of 50 social workers and 500 volunteers, she is currently managing three child care institutions, an educational complex for girls belonging to the Scheduled Tribes community, and several creche centers in southern Odisha.
7. Shanti Devi has also contributed to the marriage of many orphan girls. Because of her moral teachings, many children have grown up in life and have been well placed in different organizations today.
1. Shanti Devi bags many awards and accolades to her side. In 1994, Devi received Jamunalal Bazaz Award. She is also a recipient of the Radhanath Rath peace award and many state-level and national-level awards.
2. Shanti Devi also became the President of the Odisha Prohibition Congress.
3. Shanti is the vice-president of Agragamee’s governing body since its establishment.
4. As Shanti is influenced by the principles of Gandhi, she has received an appellation of “Koraputia Gandhi” which means “Koraput’s Gandhi”.
5. Shanti Devi has also been recognized with the first Woman Peacemaker Award, instituted by the Odisha-based foundation named ‘Maa Ghara’.
6. In the year 1994, Shanti was conferred with the Jamnalal Bajaj Award for her contribution towards the development of women and children.
7. Shanti Devi has also bagged Radhanath Rath Peace Award, instituted in the year 2002.
8. In the year 2021, Shanti Devi has been honored with one of India’s highest Civilian Awards– the Padma Shri Award for her distinguished service in the field of social activism.
– Shanti Devi’s Words and Vision
“There is a strong need to empower women and making them more courageous. They must be taught to raise their voices against the injustice that is happening. Women must become independent and educate their families too!
The people must also become more humane and tolerant by following the principles given by Mahatma Gandhi and Acharya Vinobha Bhave. People must also be aware of the fact that women are meant to be respected.
I am grateful for the recognition given by the state and the central governments but I believe there is no need for the people to remember me, rather, the cause that I am working for must always be carried forward.”
ALSO READ: Celebrate Holi In The Land Of Krishna
This extraordinary woman proves to be an inspiration for all other women as she is a live example of the phase that “age is just the bar”. She still continues to work for the good cause and creating value in society. Shanti is thankful to the government of India for conferring her the prestigious Padma Shri Award, but the Gandhian feels she has a lot more to do for society!
– Written Content and Graphical Content Prepared By Kashish Rai (Twitter: @KaafyyFilmyy)