The Ambassador of the Republic of India in Venezuela, Abhishek Singh, presented some of the contributions of the winners of the “Padma Awards 2020 – 2021” Award, in a conference before various Venezuelan environmentalists last Thursday, November 18 in Caracas.
The emissary emphasized the laureates from the environmental and public service sectors, in addition, he highlighted the importance of this award and the influence that these philanthropic actions have had not only in the Indian community but throughout the world.
“Those who won this award deserve to be recognized and make India a great country, Mahatma Gandhi’s vision is what has inspired these people to achieve all these goals … that vision has also reached Venezuela and I hope it can inspire their population, “said the diplomat.
Since 1954, the Padma Awards Committee has presented these awards each year, which are one of the highest civil honors in India and are announced on the eve of Republic Day in that country, celebrated every January 26.
They are divided into three categories: Padma Vibhushan (for exceptional and distinguished service), Padma Bhushan (distinguished service of a higher order) and Padma Shri (distinguished service), and is intended to recognize achievements in all areas in which an element of public service intervenes (literature, agriculture, art, education, social work, among others).
“The Padma Award is given to people not for their convictions with high authorities, but for the work that these ordinary people have done for society… because the Indian system recognizes those values and all those achievements made by each one of them. those figures, ”Singh said.
Among the winners is Tulasi Gowda the ¨Encyclopedia of Forests¨, a 72-year-old woman belonging to the Halakki tribe (southwestern India), who despite being illiterate and having grown up in precarious situations has vast knowledge in various species of herbs and plants, which has led her to plant and cultivate thousands of trees in the last six decades.
Gowda received the Padma Shri for Social Work in the Environment, he is also a member of the forest department of his region, and he often shares his knowledge with young people in order to transmit the message of environmental preservation.
Another award-winning figure is Rahibai Soma Popere, a 56-year-old tribal woman known as the “Mother of Seeds,” who has worked to conserve agricultural biodiversity, especially indigenous varieties.
Soma Popere created methods of harvesting water on farms in order to turn vacant land into fertile land. His work increased crop yields by 30%, and he has done excellent outreach work training other farmers and promoting awareness.
The award not only covers certain personalities from India, but also foreigners who have made significant contributions, such as the Nobel Peace Prize, Nelson Mandela, awarded the Bharat Ratna in 1990, and the former Japanese Prime Minister, Yoshiro Mori, who received the Padma Bhushan in 2004.
This year, one of the awardees was Mohammed Sharif, an 80-year-old bicycle mechanic and devotee of Islam, who has been charged with executing the last rites of more than 25,000 unclaimed bodies in Faizabad in the past 25 years. In addition, he is an Apostle of Community Harmony, he has never made distinctions for reasons of religion, since he performs extreme unction according to religious practices: cremation of Hindus and burial of Muslims.
“These people from various remote areas of India have helped build a protruding democracy … in this celebration of the 75th Anniversary of Independence they are also the heroes who have marked Indian development,” the diplomat said.
Afforestation in Venezuela
Singh spoke with the various members of the Venezuelan community, which are part of environmental NGOs and environmental programs that have emerged in the distinctive houses of study in the country. They promote the preservation and care of the environment in Venezuela, and also, the formation of more philanthropic communities interested in the national ecology.
Another of this year’s honorees was Kalyan Singh Rawat, a 66-year-old retired teacher who received the Padma Shri for his outreach in Environment and Forestry. Since 1995, through his movement called Maiti (based on the planting of trees through social customs) he has promoted more than 100,000 trees in the Himalayan region, an ideal that has spread to more than six thousand towns in 18 Indian states, and it has even reached other countries such as the United Kingdom, Canada, Indonesia, Nepal and Bhutan.
The ambassador urged those present to seek more information on the program created by Singh Rawat, emphasizing that “Venezuela has a lot of forestry and it is important to preserve it.”
Iris Bustillo, a member of the Venezuelan NGO Cultivando Lazos, highlighted that said conference meant a rapprochement between both countries regarding the ecological sector.
“Indeed, this is the beginning of what we as an NGO would interpret as a call for an approach by Ambassador Singh about what will be a joint work … not only by the foundations that I represent, but also a link with others. Venezuelans who are working for the conservation of the environment and climate change, ”explained Bustillo.
He asserted that he has also received support from other diplomatic bodies regarding the Climate Change Leadership Training program, developed between September and November of this year.
“The program is both for university students and the general public as well as for children, it is an initiative that encompasses two large sectors that are very important and elementary for the development of our country,” the activist emphasized.
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Indian Embassy in Caracas bets on environmental preservation through philanthropy