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     Kalpana Chawla Excellence Awards

New Delhi, Feb 02 2006:
Seventeen women, who have excelled in various fields, were conferred the first Kalpana Chawla Excellence Award for Women, instituted in the memory of the first Indian women astronaut to go on space missions.

The award, instituted by cultural society 'Sakha' and the Boys' Association of the Punjab Engineering College (PEC), were presented yesterday on the occasion of third death anniversary of Kalpana Chawala.

Those who were awarded, included Litterateur Uma Vasudev, National Badminton champion Madhumita Bisht, herbal beautycare expert Shahnaz Husain, National Table Tennis champion Indu Puri, TV producer Anuradha Prasad, educationist Shyama Chona, Kalpana Chawla's school teacher at Karnal, Hindi writer Chanderkanta (winner of Vyas Samman this year), Kathak dancer Geetanjali Lal, Odissi dancer Kiran Segal, Bharatnatyam dancer Dakshina Vaidyanathan, singer Vandana Vajpayee and social worker Vidyaben Shah.

The chief guest on the occasion, Union Minister for Sports and Parliamentary Affairs Oscar Fernandes said, ''Kalpana Chawla has today become a role model for every young person,'' Speaking on the occasion, Secretary in the Department of Culture, Neena Ranjan, said the Department, in association with the government of Haryana, was setting up a planetarium in Kalpana's name at Kurukshetra, which would be inaugurated next month.

Kalpana's father Mr Banarsi Lal Chawla was also present on the occasion.

Kalpana Chawla had died in the February 1, 2003, when the space shuttle Columbia, which was on its mission STS-107, crashed a few minutes before landing.

The astronaut was an alumnus of the PEC, Chandigarh and had obtained her degree in Aeronautical engineering in 1982.

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