Kalpana Chawla Excellence Awards 2007 for women were conferred over the weekend in a glittering function organized here by PEC Old Boys Association (PECOBA).
The function started with an opening address by Founder General Secretary of PECOBA, Amarjit Singh Kohli (1964 Mech). PECOBA's founder President Arunkumar (1962, Elect) welcomed the audience, to the program titled "Kalpana ki Udaan, Nari ka Samaan", for paying homage to Kalpana Chawla on the occasion of her 4th death anniversary. He said that we are inspired by Kalpana's deeds to create similar inner strengths in our present and future generations to achieve higher goals. While welcoming Mr. Banarsi Lal Chawla, father of Kalpana Chawla to the function, Arunkumar said that we requested him to join the function to pay homage to Kalpana and not to make him emotional, but to get encouragement from him to become an example for other parents. Chairman of the Organising Committee, Vijay Krishan Mehta (1961, Mech), recalled the resilience and perseverance of Kalpana and said that she did us all proud. A galaxy of renowned women achievers, who are being honoured by PECOBA by awarding Kalpana Chawla Excellence Awards, would become inspiration for the young girls of today, to emulate Kalpana and the awardees. He further said that Kalpana's space legacy is being taken forward by another American astronaut of Indian origin, Sunita Williams.
PEC Director, Dr. Vijay Gupta's message was read out by Ajay Mohan Goel (1984 E&Ec). In his message he said: " I am glad to learn that you are again organizing a programme to honour distinguished women with Kalpana Chawla Awards. We all take pride in the achievements of Kalpana, and in the fact that she was one of us. She showed us that we can dream, and dream big, and still achieve our dreams by working hard in a disciplined fashion. We re-dedicate ourselves to work to maintain PEC as a College she was proud of. My best wishes for the success of the programme."
Dr. Satish Kulkarni, Counsellor for Science & Technology, US Embassy, said that he feels Kalpana has become a source of inspiration for all future astronauts from India and Sunita another American astronaut of Indian origin is continuing the legacy forward. Randal Fiertz from the Federal Aviation Administration, USA said that Kalpana was an American Citizen and we Americans are proud of her. Sh Jaiprakash Agarwal, MP & Chairman Housing Committee of Rajya Sabha said Kalpana's name will live for millenniums.
Ms Daljit Kaur Madan, Deputy Director, Tagore Balniketan, Karnal, who was also the teacher of Kalpana Chawla at School for 8 years, recalled with choked voice, some of the instances of Kalpana's childhood days. Kalpana's house and her house were only separated by a 4 foot high wall. She said that Kalpana was fascinated by planes and stars right from her childhood days. She used to make paper planes in the class and fly them. Kalpana also asked her one day, whether she (Ms Madan) was afraid of flying in an aeroplane. Kalpana's father Shri Banarsi Lal Chawla recalled how Kalpana, as a five year old girl, on seeing a trainer aeroplane of the Karnal Flying Club, wanted to see an aeroplane. He took her along with his family to see the plane at the flying club and also got her to take a joy ride in the plane. She was fascinated to see the view from the plane.
Floral tributes to Kalpana, were also paid by Mr. Bhushan Kumar (1969), Sh. N K Jain (1979) of MTNL (one of the sponsors), Sh. Rakesh Kumar of Sakha, Sh. Sachin Garg of KS Oils (one of the sponsors) and Sangeeta Yadav (Adm Secy of Pecoba). Bhupinder Singh & Ravinder Singh, batchmates of Kalpana from the 1982 batch, also paid floral tributes. Ravinder Singh recalled how, he along with Kalpana flew the motorised model planes, while studying at PEC.
After the floral tributes to Kalpana, followed a unique & highly emotional programme of musical homage on Kalpana's life titled, "Kalpana Ki Udan, Naari Ka Samman," produced by cultural organization Sakha & conceived & executed by Sakha's Chairman Amarjit Singh Kohli, screenplay & visuals by Santosh Sharma and voicing & script by Shailaja Madhavan. It lasted for 35 minutes and depicted the key milestones in the life of Kalpana from her school days to PEC, from PEC to her MS & PhD in US, her marriage to JP Harrison, her professional career which took her to NASA as an astronaut, her first space flight and then the second and final flight, which disintegrated while landing back. The entire audience was moved to tears.
This was followed by the distribution of Kalpana Chawla Excellence Awards by Shri Banarsi Lal Chawla, Kalpana's father. Renowned film actress Nandita Das, Kaskmiri folk singer & Padma Shree Shameem Azad, sarod player & Padma Bhushan Sharan Rani, Bharatnatyam exponent & Padma Shree Saroja Vaidyanathan, veteran film-writer Aruna Vasudev, Hindi writer Chitra Mudgal, rifle shooter & Arjun Awardee Shilpi Singh, singing- film heroine of yesteryears Pushpa Hans(declared Padma Shree this year), India's ex-Hockey Captain and Arjun Awardee Sita Gusain, were amongst the 15 Awardees who received personally the " Kalpana Chawla Excellence Awards 2007 for Women" from Kalpana Chawla's father Banarsi Lal Chawla.
The other Awardees who received the Award personally were internationally reputed painter Arpana Caur, Kalpana's school teacher at Tagore Balniketan School, Karnal Ms Daljit Kaur Madan, health care specialist Dr Shikha Sharma & Tamana Chona who was a victim of mental & physical paralysis at birth but fought & recovered to become a regular school teacher. The other two Awardees namely Padma Bhushan Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, CMD Biocon Ltd, Bangalore who is India's richest technocrat businesswoman and fashion designer Ritu Beri could not be back to India in time, being held up in prolonged business negotiations abroad, but had deputed their representatives who received the Award on their behalf. (The complete list of awardees, along with their accomplishments is given at the end of this report.)
Speaking on the occasion Amarjit Singh Kohli, Founder General Secretary of Pecoba urged the Govt of India to award Kalpana Chawla posthumously with Bharat Ratna. Nandita Das said that although she is the recipient of many Awards at International Film Festivals, she will cherish memories of this Award for ever, as it is instituted in memory of her idol Kalpana Chawla & she received it personally from Kalpana's father.
Click here to view the photographs of the function.
Below are the awardees for 2007: Arpana Caur is a painter of international repute whose paintings have been exhibited throughout world. She has won numerous awards including Gold Medal in 6th International Triennele in 1986. Arpana supports several projects for the underprivelged through Academy of Fine Arts & Literature & Leprosy Home in Ghaziabad.
Aruna Vasudev, the film critic and author, is the Founder-Editor of Osians-Cinemaya Asian Film Quarterly and Founder-Director of Osian's-Cinefan Festival of Asian Cinema. She is also the Founder President of the International Network for the Promotion of Asian Cinema. Author of two books on Indian cinema and editor or co-editor of many more on Indian and Asian cinema. Member of many international film festival juries, she has been awarded by Korea, Philippines, France and Italy for her work in cinema.
Chitra Mudgal is a Hindi writer with a cause & is first winner of the International Katha Samman ie Katha Awards for her path-breaking Novel " Aawan"in 2000. First woman winner of the prestigious "Vyas Samman" in 2002; is President of " Samanvay", " Istri Shakti Parallel Force" and "Abhivyakti". Was associated with Datta Samant's woman cell of trade union movement.
Daljit Kaur Madan, a PG with honours in Punjabi from Panjab University , has over 50 years of teaching experience. She has been an inspiring teacher to Kalpana Chawla at Tagore Balniketan School, Karnal for 8 years. Her house & Kalpana's House in Karnal had a common wall barely 4 ft high. She can narrate innumerable instances of Kalpana' s childhood life. A singer, she has been a regular artiste of radio from AIR Jalandhar & a prominent stage singer of Karnal for 20 years.
Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, a technocrat Businesswoman, often referred to as " India's Biotech Queen", is CMD, Biocon Ltd, which is India 's premier Biotechnology Company today , founded in 1978 in Bangalore. She is chairperson of CII's National Task Force on Biotechnology & a member of Prime Minister's Council on Trade & Industry. Hers is the first Company in the world to manufacture human insulin, Insugen. Her Biocon Park , with an investment of 650 crore was inaugurated by President APJ Kalam in 2006. Recipient of many prestigious awards including Padma Bhushan in 2005. India's richest woman entrepreneur.
Pushpa Hans, Padmashree(2007) was singing heroine of yesteryears( V Shantaram's "Apna Desh, 1949), Sohrab Modi's " Sheesh Mahal".Even at 80 she continues to sing in TV, CDs, stage. Her songs "Chan Kithan guzari raat ve" & "Tarean to puchh" are legends of Punjabi music. She is one of 3 women on whom Govt of India has made a Documentary, others being Lata Mangeshkar & Asha Bhonsale.
Ritu Beri is a name well known in Fashion. Graduating from DU in 1987 she joined the National Institute of Fashion Technolgy in 1988. Launched her own " Studio Lavanya" in 1990. Started design for Liberty & Regent Street(1991) , launched brand "Sanskriti" in 1995 & "ready to Wear Collection in 2000 in Paris. Trained by world renowned master creator Francois Lesage of Paris.
Saroja Vaidyanathan:Bharatanatyam exponent Padma Shree Saroja Vaidyanathan is recipient of more than 40 awards including Kalaimamani from Tamil Nadu and Delhi State Award. She has choreographed many dance ballets based on mythology and social theme, toured many countries propagating the dance art. Author of four dance and music books and the Founder President of Ganesa Natyalaya in 1974 which is a prime art Institution of Delhi having its own premises.
Shameema Azad, a singer & Padmashree, is a living legend of Kashmiri Folk Music. Cut dozens of discs in more than 10 Indian languages. Lent voice to about 10 TV Serials & feature films including "Habba Khatoon" and ""Bub". Winner several Awards including Gold medal from Andhra Govt for singing in Telgu. Her songs "Mauj Kisheer" & " Janat-I-Kashmir" from her CD are on every Kashmiri's lip.
Sharan Rani is the first woman sarod player of India & is playing for 70 years, also called "Sarod Rani". Jawahar Lal Nehru called her "Cultural Ambassador of India". A Padma Bhushan., she is one of the 3 women conferred the title "Gems of Indian Music" by Govt of India, the other two being Lata Mangeshkar & MS Subbulaxmi.
Dr Shika Sharma, an MBBS, is renowned in field of Health Care & Weight Loss. Founded a chain of health & weight loss clinics "Dr Shikhs's Nutri-Health System". Writes for many newspapers & regularly appears on all TV Channels. Chosen amongst Top 50 Young Achievers of the country. Won " Women Achievers Award" in 1999 & 2004.
Shilpi Singh is the only woman of India who won consecutively three medals in three Commonwealth Shooting Championships under Air Pistol Category, held in Malaysia(1997), New Zealand (1999) & England(2001). She is also the youngest ever winner having won the championship at 17. An Arjun Awardee in 1997, she won the Air Pistol Gold Award in National Shooting Championship in 2002
Sita Gusain: an Arjun Awardee in 2001, Sita Gusain is the only player from Asia to play for World XI in 1999 in Egypt . Was Captain Indian National Hockey Team in 1998 & won for India Gold in Commonwealth Games in 2002 in Manchester . Also silver medal in Asian Games at Bangkok in 1998 & Gold Medal in Four Nation Club in 1995. Winner 9 National Championships for Railways.
Tamana Chona was born with the birth defect of Cerebral Palsy leading to spasticity & seriously affecting both mental & physical abilities. But she fought & recovered through sheer determination with the continuous support of her parents. Her recovery is a marvel of God. Today she is a regular school teacher & a model for other victims of cerebral palsy. She was selected to represent Asia-Pacific as one of Special Olympics Inc Global Messenger for 2002-03 & was one of the 12 athletes from around the world chosen for Special Olympics in March 2002.
Nandita Das is a Film Actress who has acted in 25 feature films in 9 different languages, including Deepa Mehta's " Fire" & "Earth". "Bawandar" directed by Jagmohan Mundra won her Best Actress Award at Santa Monica Film Festival in 2001. Also her film " Amar Bhuvan" directed by Mrinal Sen won her Best Actress Award at Cairo Film Festival in 2002. A master's in social work, she supports social organizations & voices social concerns. She has worked with all top film directors including Mani Ratnam, Shyam Benegal. She herself has directed many short films.