HT Woman 2018: Know your nominees

The wait is finally over as HT Woman 2018 enters the next level. We bring you the nominations for the year’s most prestigious event.

The HT Woman Awards is an event where women of substance are honoured. But there is more.

Every year we also highlight an actionable agenda for the government and other stake holders of the society. Our previous editions have got governments to act on the plight of acid attack victims, against child trafficking among various other initiatives.

This year we have added various new categories to our awards – young society leaders, culture masters, uniquely abled, gender equality ( male ), social work and warriors in uniform.

Our award is aimed at recognising the valour and resilience of such women (of any level) that have enabled them to fight on and overcome the odds.


Anand Chitravanshi

Category: Gender Equality (Male)

Anand Chitravanshi is leading Digital Study Hall, the outreach wing of Study Hall Educational Foundation, India.

He has led girl education and empowerment programme ‘Aarohini’ in around 1,000 schools across Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan. Over 90,000 girls from these schools have participated in dialogues that focus on issues that limit the lives of girls and help develop a political understanding of patriarchy.

Chitravanshi has also been spearheading an annual India’s Daughters Campaign (IDC) for the last five years. The focus of IDC has been on making Indian community safe for girls. One of the key goals of IDC is to check child marriage. IDC reaches out to over 5,00,000 people that include girls, teachers, parents, community members and faith leaders.

He is leading a team of 37 members that includes 14 girls from poor background, many of whom have been mentored by him in the last 10 years.

In 2016, Anand was the curator for the Lucknow Hub for the World Economic Forum’s Global Shaper Initiative. Currently, he is coaching and incubating three girl entrepreneurs who aspire to be professional photographers.

Anand aims to nurture and motivate girls to take up leadership positions.

Anjali Kesari

Category: Social Work

Anjali Kesari is an artist, writer, motivator and a social worker. She has dedicated herself to empowering and uplifting the women and is active in this field for the past 20 years. She started the work with her husband Vishal and came up an NGO ‘Nari Shakti Jagrit Sansthan’. However, having lost her husband in a road accident in January 2016, she dedicated the NGO to her husband and rechristened it —Vishal Sankalp—and roped many thinking minds including many women for the cause of girl education. She believes that by educating a girl you empower an entire generation. Today, she and her group are active in seven city slums besides other small dwellings teaching kids, especially girls and also educating them about personal hygiene, cleanliness, health issues, safety awareness as well as environment protection. As part of ‘Mehekne Do’ mission, 300 girls are now benefiting from the movement and many of them are now themselves promoting it among their fellow citizens.

Employed as a teacher in Kendriya Vidyalaya, New Cantonment, Allahabad Anjali spends all her spare time in taking forward this noble cause for the benefit of girls and women. She is also a gifted painter and contributes articles in newspapers and magazines to create awareness on issues of girl education and women empowerment.

Nominated by Kenneth John

Arti Sahu

Category: Young Society Leader

Arti Sahu, 24, is on a mission to empower rural schoolchildren and adolescent girls as agents of social change within their villages and communities.

After completing BTech in computer engineering in 2015, Arti was drawn towards serving rural communities and joined an organisation that works on eliminating preventable deaths of mothers and children. She realised that with some direction, life skills and leadership, rural schoolchildren can rewrite their destiny.

Arti started addressing the issue of preventable deaths due to diarrhoea. In the last two years, she has mobilised over 6,000 children across 200 villages in Rae Bareli district to spread awareness on hand washing, bringing schools, health workers and families on a common platform and touching the lives of 8,000 pregnant women and mothers.

An eloquent speaker and tireless worker, Arti is a source of inspiration to all around her. She has inspired 256 adolescent girls across 1,200 villages in Rae Bareli to volunteer to serve their communities.

Arti’s work has been recognised by experts at the World Health Organisation (WHO) and Stanford University. In recognition of her work, she was awarded the ‘Rani Laxmibai Veerta Puraskar’ by the UP government in 2016.

Nominated by Aarti Kumar

Astha Bhadauriya

Category: Social Work

Astha Bhadauriya is working for free education to students from economically weaker sections of the society. She got married at an early age of 20.

Astha took the initiative of working for the education of underprivileged children to fulfill the dream of her father-in-law, Shaheed Layak Singh Bhadauriya who had martyred in Kargil war.

As many children do not have access to education due to lack of resources, the effects of poverty on children are wide-reaching and can lead to lifelong struggles.

Astha, along with a group of teachers, not only teaches underprivileged children of rural areas but also provides them all necessary help.

Chahat Malhotra

Category: Young Society Leader

Chahat Malhotra is a 15-year-old girl who is a singer, a social enthusiast and a young agent of change from Lucknow.

A singer who aspires to do playback in future, she has been the winner of state level classical music competitions held by Sangeet Natak Akademi, Uttar Pradesh for two consecutive years and has been the 2nd winner of ‘Igenius Young Singing Stars’, a national level singing talent hunt where she was judged by Salim Merchant.

Being a part of a social media based group ‘Justice Now’, Chahat at the age of 14 had penned down a song, ‘Sazaa- Kehti hai antaratma’, pleading justice in Aarushi Talwar murder case (whose verdict has been announced recently).

Chahat has been working towards the cause of humanity since the age of 11. She has also established a youth led NGO ‘ProjectParvaah’.

She has been organising several drives with the beggars of the city, in an attempt to know their problems, enlightening them on the evils of begging while encouraging them to allow their children to be educated.

Chahat has recently launched a campaign #SUNO to speak up against rapes in India, wherein she interviews people on ‘ending rapes in India’ thus sensitizing the general masses on eve teasing and rapes.

Akhilesh Yadav, the former chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, awarded Chahat with the ‘Rani Laxmi Bai Award’ in December 2016. In the year 2017, she received ‘Kishori Award’ presented by ‘Innovation for change’.

Nominated by Jyoti Malhotra

Dr Alok Bajpai, Kanpur

Category: for Gender equality (Male)

A practicing psychiatrist, he is also a consultant to IIT Kanpur. His work focusses on children, adolescents and women. He has a wide dimension of activities from research to teaching cinema and workshops with school teachers. But his leitmotif is Mahatma Gandhi that he uses to empower audience through his interactive sessions named ‘An Hour with the Mahatma’ — a book by same title has also been published.

His ideas and work are best depicted by the tagline on his clinic TOGETHER’s board – “you are the solution yourself.”

His work with women is difficult to characterize and classify but it is in depth and core transforming. He has affected thousands of lives through awareness workshops on sexual abuse and mental health, and through personal interactions.

Women who come to him for symptoms of depression not only receive treatment but also lessons in transformation. His philosophical and positive outlook is extremely encouraging and exhorts women to step out of their boundaries. They are encouraged to further their education through learning or explore their talents given their own resources.

No record has been kept but the personal accounts of those whose lives have changed by his ideals and guidance. He urges women to use technology, learn internet and explore the world of knowledge. Nonetheless, his sessions are a lesson in women liberation and empowerment at an individual and basic level.

Nominated by Pooja A

Dr. Tulika Sahu

Category: Culture Masters

Hailing from Tanda in Faizabad and born in a family of photographers, Dr Tulika Sahu completed her basic education from Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya, Faizabad. To fulfill her father’s dream of becoming a photographer, she enrolled herself in the College of Arts and Crafts, Lucknow University, and completed her Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA). In her quest for creative excellence, she completed post-graduation in fine arts. She went on to become the first woman in India to be awarded a PhD in photography under the guidance of Dr Bhupesh C Little making it to the prestigious Limca Book of Records (2015) and India Book of Records (2016). She was also felicitated by chief editors of record books of eight countries in New Delhi in November 2017.

Her area of expertise includes black and white analog photography and innovative darkroom processes not known to digital era photographers. She excels in low-light photography where her innovative and imaginative images have earned accolades.

Awarded nationally and internationally, her photographs have been accepted for exhibitions in over 40 photography salons organised by renowned photo clubs of America, Singapore, Greece, Arizona, Romania, Macedonia, UAE, UK, etc.

She conducts free classes on photography for girls of her locality besides holding sessions for those desirous of pursuing the art of photography in various Navodaya Schools as well as NGOs.

She has conducted national-level photography workshops and has been nominated as a resource person by organisations like State Museum, UP Photo Expo, photo fairs and Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya.

She also excels in singing, poetry writing, oil and water colour painting. She has been awarded Kshitij Kalashree Award in international child art exhibition and best teacher award in international art teacher exhibition by Kshitij.

Nominated by Ravi Kapoor

Farhana Maliki

Category: Social Work

A social worker at heart, Farhana Maliki works for women empowerment and provides free education and medical help to slum dwellers.

Maliki is also the national president of Begamat Royal Family and belongs to the Nawab family of Avadh.

She worked hard to save several historical monuments of the state. She demonstrated several times to save Roomi Gate and met the honorable governor of the state Late Mr. B.L. Joshi in this regard. She demanded development and improvement in the lighting arrangements of the area around Roomi Darwaza. She also demanded the state government to announce the area between Bara Imambara and Chota Imambara as no heavy traffic zone. The Government accepted her demands in 2013.

She works among children and women of slum areas and helps them understand the basics about health and hygiene. Maliki’s father Late Zainul Nawab Maliki was also a great social worker. He made a world record of being the first person to offer ‘namaaz’ on glowing embers.

Maliki did not stop, even after suffering a severe brain hemorrhage in 2010 wherein her half body was paralysed. She was awarded with “Eid-e-Ghadeer” award in United Kingdom.

Self nominated

Jagriti Verma, Gorakhpur

Category: Saving Lives after defying death

Jagriti Verma, 61, a resident of city ‘ s Rajendranagar who was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 41 in year 2004 not she only fought and defeated the deadly disease with her positive and strong will power to survive but also showed way to hundreds of cancer patients who had lost hope in life.

Jagriti, underwent treatment at Tata memorial cancer hospital for two continuous years that was between 2004 to 2006. It was then she decided to take up the cause and help others. On her family doctor Dr Aloke Gupta’s suggestion started to share her experience especially about diet and exercises which she followed during treatment to recover fast.

Since then on every Monday and Thursday, Jagriti visits city’s Hanuman Prasad Poddar Cancer Hospital, to meet patients and guide to what to eat, wear or to exercises to follow on different stages of the treatment, including chemotherapy and radio therapy. During her counseling sessions she dispels myth associated with cancer and infuses positivity in patients as well as their kin living in despair. Cancer is not a communicable diseases, can happen to anybody and today it is totally curable. Recalling hard days, she says, “Long and expensive treatment had broken me down, but familial support and my will power helped me survive.” For her dedicated work for cancer survivors, she was honoured by the Indian Medical Association in the year 2008.

Nominated by Abdul Jadid

Kamal Krishna Roy

Category: Gender Equality (Male)

Kamal Krishna Roy joined the Allahabad high court as a social litigation lawyer in 1991 after being enrolled with the Uttar Pradesh Bar Council. He has been active in raising issues through public interest litigation petitions, writ petitions and representations before the commissions as a lawyer.

Beginning his career as a human rights lawyer, he filed a petition and successfully fought for the rights of thousands of women of Uttarakhand who were stopped by the UP Police in the midnight while they were on their way to participate in the agitation for a separate state. Hundreds of these women were allegedly raped, molested and faced excesses at the hands of the police.

Roy also filed petitions on the hunger death of women belonging to the Scheduled Castes on the failure of government machinery to provide BPL cards and work for survival. He also filed petitions for the rights of acid attack survivors in UP.

He fought and won cases for the rescue and rehabilitation of women workers of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Madhya Pradesh who were kept as bonded labourers in brick kilns of UP. Several legal interventions were made for the payment of full wages to women workers under the MGNERGA projects.

Roy filed petition and freed women from physical, mental, physiological and emotional tortures in the garb of religious ceremonies and blind faith.

He also intervened in the matter of fundamental right to education of girls and got them admitted under free quota.

He organised and participated in regional, state and national consultations and conferences on women rights.

Nominated by Kenneth John

Khwahish Kishore

Category: Young society leaders

Khwahish Kishore, a class 10th student of La Martiniere Girls’ College, has been an ardent animal lover since she started understanding life. As she was raised amidst pets of all kinds, her communication with animals enabled her to expand the circle to include the stray animals, whom she rescues, adopts, feeds, nurtures and pampers like babies. She has at present 150 animals in her ‘Animal Kingdom’ at home, including, 20 dogs and puppies, cats, parrots, squirrels, pigeons, ducks, rabbits, Guinea pigs and more.

She has rescued dozens of puppies who are left stranded and get hit by vehicles or are abandoned by owners. She keeps them at home, provides them shelter, food and medical aid, for which she well connected with veterinary doctors and NGOs.

She has helped in vaccinating several puppies against rabies and other diseases and has got many female dogs sterilized so that the population of puppies remains controlled. Khwahish is a member of AWBI (Animal Welfare Board of India, Ministry of Environment & Forests, GOI).

Khwahish’s love to spend time at old age homes in the city. The residents of Mother Teresa’s Home, look forward to her visits and shower her with blessings.

Nominated by Dr Indu subhash

Manisha Singh, Allahabad

Category: Warriors in Uniform

Manisha Singh is serving as in-charge of the field unit wing of the Allahabad police and is among two women in the entire state who head a field unit team of forensics. She spearheads investigations of all crime scenes in multiple districts falling under the Allahabad range of UP police. Her job, which till recently was considered a male bastion, involves visiting brutal murder spots and carrying out minute scientific investigation. Her work is crucial in collection of evidences, which are later used in the court for proving the guilt of criminals and ensuring justice to victims. Manisha, who joined the service in 2010, ensures that her work is perfectly done, as it plays a vital role in ensuring maximum punishment to criminals. A former student of Allahabad University, Manisha performs her duty with determination despite encountering ghastly scenes at murder sites.

Her work involves preparing and maintaining reports of murder scenes. A mother of two, Manisha manages her family life too and ensures she takes good care of them.

Besides being an expert in collecting samples at crime scenes, Manisha’s investigation has helped establishing the nature of explosives in several blasts sites in the region.

Nominated by Farhan Ahmed Siddiqui

Moni Kannaujia

Category: Young Society Leaders

Moni Kannaujiya has championed the cause of girls’ education by producing over 1,000 quality video lessons which are available free of cost on the internet. She has risen through the ranks and is currently leading Content Production at Study Hall Educational Foundation’s outreach unit. She comes from a low income family but has beaten the odds to become a role model in her community.

Since the age of 15, Moni has been working and paying for her education and has now surpassed her parents to become the highest earner in the family. She graduated from Prerna Girls School in 2012, earned her Bachelor of Arts in 2015, and is now pursuing her Master’s in Journalism and Mass Communication at Lucknow University.

A natural young leader, Moni currently supervises a team of ten experts teacher and two video production associates. She and her team produce videos lessons on quality pedagogy for under resourced classrooms. They also record critical dialogues between students and teachers that are part of SHEF’s feminist curriculum. These videos are used to strengthen the Aarohini girls’ education and empowerment program in more than 700 government schools in the state. Additionally, Moni manages a YouTube channel for these video lessons that has over 21,000 subscribers and 3 million views.

Moni was an integral part of a study for ‘Mapping Vulnerability of Adolescent Girls in Uttar Pradesh,’ commissioned by Unicef. She is also a Woman Power Angel, designated as civil police to fight and report crimes against women by the Uttar Pradesh government.

Nominated by Siddharth Shukla

Mridula Bharadwaj

Category: Culture Masters

She is an eminent, socially committed theatre artist of international repute. Her contribution as an organizer, actress, costume designer, social activist and theatre educationist is immense.

Trained from Bhatkhande in Bharatnatyam, folk dances and tabala, she is active in theatre since 1978, and is the founder secretary of NIPA Rangmandali. In her leadership, the group is being acclaimed in major national and international theatre festivals including Theatre Olympics.

As a wonderful actress, she has done lead roles in more than 50 plays with theatre personalities like Padma Shri Raj Bisaria, Bhanu Bharati, Devendra Raj Ankur, Urmil Thapaliyal, Surya Mohan Kulshreshtha and Satya Brat Rout. She has also acted with foreign directors like Rolf Deneman (Germany), Laura Janti (Finland) and Asil Rais (France). She has performed and conducted theatre workshops in Norway, Finland, Germany, USA, Canada, Denmark, Sweden and Pakistan.

She has acted in and directed many street plays related to communal and gender issues. She works in schools too with Sajhi Dunia, an NGO led by Roop Rekha Verma and actively participates in social activities. She provides rehearsal plays in her residence to the needy theatre groups working for social cause.

She is recipient of Best Costume Designing Award (1998 USA), Rangyatra Samman, Manch Kriti Samman, Oudh samman, and UP Sangeet Natak Academy Award 2003.

Nominated by Surya Mohan Kulshreshtha & Jyoti Sinha

Nishi Rastogi

Category:Culture Master

Being a professional Bharatnatayam performer, Bollywood choreographer and Indian folk art promoter, I have always done my bit to keep Indian dance forms alive. I have learnt Bharatnatyam from the likes of Kumari Laxmi Srivastav and Guru Shri Prem Chand Humbal from Banaras, Indumati Raman and Padma Vibhushan Guru Sonal Mansing during a workshop. I was assistant director for Baal Grishm Kalin workshop organised by Kala Parisad- Delhi and performed at Indian Classical Dance Festival 2014 at Bhilai and Naatya Kousthubh Nrithvotsava at Durg. I have recently penned a book that is all set to be published later this year.

To do my bit and promote young talent I have judged a dance reality show “Flame of India” on Ishwar Channel and another reality, “Jhume Nache Gaye” for ETV UP.

I was associated with the movie” Miss Tanakpur hazir ho” as a choreographer.

I have received amny National as well as International awards & recognition Like International -Doctor of letter from Kings University U.S, Golden Phoenix – The Cultural Achievement Award at Malasiya and Aquamarine Queen of Diamond Award at Singapore and Kalashree Saman at Delhi, Nari Tujhe Salam, Ekaramshree Award, Arch of Excellence, Bharat Mahila Gaurav Award ,Shan – e- Hindustan Dr Hedgewar Samman , Rajiv Gandhi Excellence Award and National Nritya Bhusan award in the past.

Self Nominated

Phool Kumari Pandey

Category: Young society leader

On way to her village in Gonda from hostel, the sight of birds dying of thirst changed the life of Phool Kumari Pandey. She tried to fetch them water but by then it was too late.

When she reached home, she asked her friends to help her in creating awareness among the people and urge them to put water in front of their houses or on the rooftops for birds.

She herself climbed up the trees with buckets full of water to refill the pots. The campaign spread and covered 22 villages as her team’s strength grew to 50.

Later, keeping in view the need for construction of toilets, Phool Kumari got a toilet constructed in her house as a ‘Raksha Bandhan’ gift from her brother.

Media reports drew the attention of district authorities after which the district magistrate visited her place and appreciated her efforts. She was also made the brand ambassador for awareness campaign on toilet construction in her village and nearby areas.

Phool Kumari and her team started digging soak pit for toilets but had to face resistance from villagers. However, she got support from administration and people started getting Rs 12,000 aid from government under the Swachhh Bharat Mission. About a hundred new toilets have been constructed in her village and nearby areas due to her efforts.

On March 29, chief minister Yogi Adityanath honoured her with Rani Laxmibai award on March 29.


Poonam Bagai

Category: Saving Lives after defying death

Poonam Bagai is a former civil servant who worked with railways and thereafter in a few international organisations.

Poonam was 38 when she came to know that she is suffering from colon cancer. The next two years were gloomy for her when she always thought about her children and family. She was praying for life as she wanted to work. Meanwhile, she went through four surgeries and eleven painful chemotherapies. Finally, God blessed her with life. Poonam, who had been living with her family in Warsaw (Poland), returned to India in 2002.

In 2004, she established an organisation ‘Cankids’ in Delhi to provide direct and indirect support to cancer patients. The organisation extends financial, medical and educational support to families of cancer patients. They also provide accommodation for them during treatment. Poonam with her team provides holistic care to patients under the guidance of doctors.

Till date, over 30,000 families have received support through 52 centres of Cankids across the country and medicines of over Rs 6 crore have been provided to patients.

Nominated by S Raju

Poonam Kishor

Category: Culture Masters (Painting)

Poonam Kishor has been an active and prolific painter for the past 15 years.

Credited for coming up with an innovative and affordable alternative for painting on zinc plates, Poonam Kishor developed Broomia Art in 1998. She used bromide papers and exceptional etching technique to reduce the cost of painting.

Since she was a class 6 student, her sketches and paintings started appearing on covers and pages of noted magazines and books. She also painted book covers for award winning writers like Ravindra Kalia (Zara Si Roshni), Doodhnath Singh (Dharamkshetra, Kurukshetra), Mamta Kalia (Jaanch Abhi Jari Hai, Chutkara, Uska Yauvan) and Ramdhari Singh Dinkar (Rashmirathi).

A former assistant professor of fine arts at BBK DAV College for Women, Amritsar, she held special workshops in Pingalwara (Amritsar) for children with mental disabilities. She also painted the works of many famous poets like Bashir Badr, Rahat Indori, Javed Akhtar and Nida Fazli. Among her large body of works is a massive series of 550 canvas paintings on Harivansh Rai Bachchan’s Madhushala.

She also designed a special creative pen for sketching. This single pen can help sketch from 0.1mm to 0.16 mm thinness doing away with the usual need of multiple pens.

Poonam won many awards for her works including State Award in 2008 at Regional Lalit Kala UP Exhibition and gold medal in Agnipath painting competition, New Delhi, in 2007. She also won many scholarships including Young Artist Scholarship from MHRD in 2006 and Lalit Kala Akademi’s Delhi Grant scholarship in 2010.

Nominated by K Sandeep Kumar

Priyanka Bhatti

Category: Uniquely abled

Priyanka is an inspiration for all especially for the visually challenged who give up on their life instead of overcoming their weakness. Priyanka is a visually challenged since birth but she never gave up her spirit to fight to live a decent life like others. Despite her challenges she completed her Masters degree to become an English trainer. She now imparts training to new teachers as well as students in English so that they could improve their language skills. She has also provided English training in many schools and institutions. Besides, she also had worked with many NGOs to motivate and help other visually challenged people and helped them to upgrade their life style and seek employment to live a better life. Bhatti has set up her own NGO ‘ Samarthan Education and Welfare Trust’ in July 2017 with objective to provide ‘ holistic assitance’ to visually and differently challenged people.

Nominated by S Raju

Pushpanjali Sharma

Category: Social work

Pushpanjali is a yoga guru. She used her yoga knowledge to help the victims of sexual violence. She came in touch with such victims while spreading light of yoga in rural pockets. She started teaching yoga to a few girls in a village in outskirts of Varanasi.

She says few girls became so close to them that they shared their tale of woes. A victim made a startling revelation of physical abuse by her own uncle. She visited her family and called on her mother who was reluctant to register a case. She motivated her for raising a voice against the culprit for the cause of her daughter. Later, the mother of the girl lodged a complaint and action was ensured against the accused.

During last five years, she supported over 25 victims. She also does counselling for such victims. To them, she teaches meditation and yoga which charges them with fresh energy and gives them strength to move ahead in life. She arranged marriage of one such victim who is now well settled. She quietly supports such victims.

Sharma also conducted yoga classes for female inmates in the central jail. With the help of yoga, she tries to fill lives of such victims with fresh hopes.

Nominated by Rajesh Kumar

Rachana Govil

Category: Social service

During 1976, when women were being burnt alive for dowry, I became member of Anti Dowry Organisation and raised voice against dowry. She was just 15 then. Rachana became the joint secretary of Nehru Bal Sangh an organization for National Integration and personality development of children and social secretary of All India National Integration Society. She was awarded Mother’s Teresa’s Certificate of Social Service. In 1986, took part in ‘Run against Aids’ in Delhi to raise funds for AIDS programmes. In order to empower girl child, mentally and physically, and for self defense training facilities were started exclusively for girls in boxing, taekwondo and wrestling at Lucknow.

Presently, she is working Executive Director in Sports Authority of India and have always given emphasis on the role of women in development of society and wrote articles on various women development and sports issues.

Being courageous enough to run on roads in shorts along with boys to train for long distance running in mid 70s, she did set an example for all girls to take bold steps and achieve their dreams. Rachana represented India in athletics and shooting. And was first Indian woman to take part in World Shooting Championship at Munich, Beijing and Milan in 2008. Later, she was also awarded scholarship from Bhatkhande University.

Rachana has been conferred with Arjuna Award (2000), Yash Bharati Award and Lakshmibai Bravery Award (2016), Pride of India Award (2018) by Indian Institute of Sports Medicine, Chennai, National Woman Award (2009) by Taj Association of Art, Culture and Heritage, Bharat Jyoti Award 2013 by India International Friendship Society, New Delhi, Best Woman Shooter Award (1998), Woman Of Substance Award by Ryan Foundation (2003), Award Of Honour by Lucknow University and Woman Achievers Award (2018) by Lucknow Management Association.

Nominated by Sharad Deep

Ramsri Pal

Category: Social work

A self-reliant woman, Ramsri Pal is helping underprivileged women live a dignified life by imparting skill training course in rural areas.

Ramsri got married in 1998 when she was just 18. Without any income of her own, she was dependent on her husband for everything. Soon, marriage proved to be a nightmare for Ramsri as her in-laws started torturing her for dowry.

Things got worse as days passed by and Ramsri confined herself to a small room fearing to be killed when her parents and relatives came to her rescue.

The incident made her learn to stand for herself. Ramsri managed a sewing machine and started learning tailoring in Lakhimpur. She sold off her ornaments to meet the expenses on training and purchased a plot on the outskirts of Lakhimpur. After the training, she set up her own tailoring shop which fetched her a regular income.

Ramsri resolved to bring about change in the lives of women who are forced to live an obscure life.

She set up tailoring training centres in Nakha, Ramapur, Amritapur, Salempur areas of the city and started imparting training to over a hundred women. The initiative improved her income and image. Mother of four children – two sons and two daughters – Ramsri is now a brand ambassador of rural women self-employment programme launched by the Allahabad UP Gramin Bank.

Tripti Kaur Pahwa

Category: Culture masters

Tripti Kaur Pahwa is an Indian relief mural artist and had keen interest in paintings since childhood. In 2000, she decided to make this hobby her profession by setting up an organisation ‘Kalakriti Creations’.

Tripti does all kind of artworks including sculptures, oil paintings, acrylic paintings, fabric paintings, broken and stain glass paintings. She has recently added jewellery-making to her series of work. However, her most popular work is of relief murals.

She exhibited her artworks at Dilli Haat-2005, Lalit Kala Akademi, Lucknow, in 2007, Railway Officer’s Club in 2013, Awadh Shilp Gram in 2016, Indira Gandhi Pratishthan in 2016 and 2017. Her work can be found in myriad of public and private art collections both in India and abroad.

She also holds workshops on clay work, paintings and ‘shilpkar’ jewellery. The vocational training workshops are often held in the observation homes for women, children and orphanages in Lucknow and other cities and villages.

She was awarded Balmitra Award 2016 by the state women and child development department, Uttar Pradesh, Smmay 2018 by Aura Foundation, Swayamsiddha Awards Season 5 by Anupma Foundation and UP Icon Award for her achievement in the field of art by Ek Pahal Welfare Foundation. She has also been conferred with The Folktales Award 2017 for being one of the top women entrepreneurs in UP.

Shreshtha Thakur

Category: Warrior in Uniform

Shreshtha Thakur is a 2012-batch PPS (provincial police service) officer and is popular for her courage and dedication towards her duty.

Shreshtha shot to limelight when she stood up against local BJP leaders in Bulandshahr in June 2017. While serving as DSP in Bulandshahr’s Sayana circle, she slapped a fine on some party workers for not wearing helmet and sent five of them to jail for obstructing government duties. She was later transferred to flood-affected Mahsi circle of Bahraich district.

Seeing extreme poverty and sufferings of the people in the area of her posting, she started helping the needy and took up social service along with her official duties. She was given responsibility of traffic and given the charge of Risia circle. Besides her official duty, she takes classes in government primary school in Bahraich. She also gives safety tips to girls for dealing with anti-social elements.

Nominated by Shariq Rais Siddiqui

Shruti Mehrotra

Category: Young society leader

An avid reader and writer, Shruti Mehrotra, 21, is a young blogger who has been sharing her thoughts through haywiredthoughtsandstrokes.wordpress.

She has compiled over 50 stories for a kids’ magazine ‘Primary Plus’ on humour, friendship, values and school. Her blog posts on love and friendship, girl child, teenage musings, fear of the unforeseeable and poems on issues related to domestic violence, majorly resonates with the Google-generation.

Winning recognition at Quality Youth Summit in Mauritius recently, Shruti also displayed her exemplary skills of research, diplomacy and leadership at NLU International Model United Nations Conference.

An advocate of world peace and unity, she believes in the notion of spreading love and harmony.

She represented India at the International Convention on Challenged Students Quality Circles in Mauritius organised by the International Council for physically and mentally challenged students QC, Mauritius.

Shruti is all set to represent India on issues related to women empowerment and quality literacy for the masses at ICSQC, Dhaka, Bangladesh in May 2018. She is looking forward for a career in mass communication.

Nominated by Dr. Dheeraj Mehrotra

Usha Shanker

Category: Uniquely abled

Usha Shanker, 70, has been tirelessly working towards social causes since 1984. In 2012, she suffered partial paralysis (Cauda Equina Syndrome) due to which she is numb to urine/ stool and cannot walk properly, having poor sensation in her feet. This, however, has not deterred her from what she had been doing all her life- catering to rural women and children.

In her capacity as Child Development Project Officer under the Ministry of Woman and Social Welfare, she over-achieved targets for vaccination of women and children, elementary childhood education at the Anganwadi centres which were highlighted in her Annual Confidential Reports. She was instrumental in getting TB eradicated from Siraiyya (a village in Sarojini Nagar) with the help of doctors from PHC and KGMC. Her centre, Semra (in Chinhat), was showcased to then prime minister Dewe Gowda during his Lucknow visit.

She took voluntary retirement in 2006 to pursue her dream of teaching women and children of slums and rural areas. Her school provides education to rural children at very nominal costs and almost 30% children study free of cost.

To amalgamate the children with the mainstream she has herself written English Conversation modules for each class and ensures smart classes for all children. She regularly counsels on issues ranging from female health and hygiene, skill development and empowerment has to be seen to be believed.

Nominated by Ujjwala Sadana

Shubha Agrawal

Category: Social work

Dr. Shubha Agarwal, a PhD in economics, recognised her true calling and left her comfort zone to become the managing trustee of Seth Sriniwas Institute, Kanpur.

The Trust established a college to educate and nurture young minds and provide employment opportunities to people.

From initial days she worked hard by lending a helping hand to her father in his business along with studies. She also gave free coaching classes to the children of her society. Later, she decided to shoulder the responsibility as a managing trustee besides fulfilling family responsibilities.

She also distributes free plants among the people to promote plantation and save environment.

She has become a role model for many women who have confined themselves to their married life.


Sima Modi

Category: Social work

After her children were settled in their respective field of studies, Sima decided to take up theatre. Working with a majority of senior directors of Lucknow, Sima has acted in 12 stage plays with its shows all over the country in a short span of three years. Recently, she got the best actress award in the All-India Theatre Festival in Dhanbad, Jharkhand.

Sima got the opportunity to work with directors like Atamjeet Singh, Alopi Verma, and KK Agarwal.

She established an NGO by the name of Srijan Shakti Welfare Society to take theatre to the masses and work for the cause of women, cleanliness, health and hygiene.

She often visits tribal areas in Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Uttar Pradesh and works for the welfare of tribal women and children. Supported by her husband Mahendra Modi, who works as director general, technical services, Uttar Pradesh police, Sima regularly organises health and education camps for the families of police personnel.

Sima has been awarded with Uttar Pradesh Ratna Award, Shakti Award, Help U Naari Asmita Samman-2016, Karmsheel Naari Award – Islamia College, Uttar Pradesh Pride Award conferred by governor of Uttar Pradesh in 2016, Blue Bird Women Empowerment Award in the field of art and acting, 10th National Women’s Excellence Achievers Award and Navshakti, Delhi 2017.

Self Nominated

Shradha Saxena

Category: Social work

Shradha Saxena runs Ansh Foundation and has been working for social welfare since 2013.

She works for the cause of women and slum children and runs free summer camps for art and craft, drawing, best out of waste and stitching for slum children, especially girls.

Shradha also works for rehabilitation of rape victims. She also runs boutique and beauty parlour to help underprivileged women earn their living.

She often organises seminars on the use of paper bags for sustainable environment and on issues related to joint family versus nuclear family. She provides training to people in rural areas and working for creating awareness against tobacco.

Recently, she also conducted a state-level women’s kabaddi league.

Nominated by Anoop Ghosh

Smriti Dutta

Category: Culture Master

Smriti Dutta, 40, a renowned kathak dancer is currently employed as dance director at NE Railways Kala Samiti and office superintendent at CPO’s office, has earned wide acclaim during her dance career spanning over 20 years.

Wife of railway employee Jatanta Dutta, Smriti, who belongs to Banaras Gharana she is master in choreography, classical and semi classical singing. Born to Varanasi based Music teacher Guru Prasad Verma Smriti, she managed to secure a job in railways under cultural quota.

She learnt dancing from Pt Ravi Shankar Mishra and obtained Prabhakar in tabla. Before being employed with Railways she held shows and imparted training to hundreds of other girls who wanted to make career in kathak.

She was among the judges in recently concluded Gorakhpur Mahotsav and was honoured in 2016 and 2018 edition of Mahotsav for her contribution in the field of kathak. She is also recipient of Kala Alankaran Samman 1996 and General Manager Railway Week Award for culture in 2017.

Nominated by Abdul Jadid

Sunita Bansal

Category: Social Service

From the last 14 years, approximately 200 families residing in Duda Colony (Maleen Basti), Hanumanpuram were deprived of basic amenities like electricity, water, sewage, roads, bathrooms & toilets and were compelled to lead a miserable life. Neither the area representative nor the citizens did show any desire for the development of the place. It was Satvik Welfare Foundation that took the responsibility for the development of the place.

Firstly, 30 sodium lights were installed in the area. After the focus was sewage lines and bathrooms, each and every house which was deprived from these basic amenities were given connections. Also free water connections were given to the residents.Road connectivity was another big issue so 800 metre road was constructed. It took three years for all this development work to complete. Apart from this locality another colony named Deen Dyal Puram which comprises 700 houses had not seen any development from last 19 years where our foundation laid sewage line connections in 13 lanes and are improving the conditions of lanes, out of which many are completed. Satvik Welfare Foundation made water supply connections from water head tanks available to the people which were not in function for six years. This helped seven hundred houses to get free water connections. For all the development work they had to continuously pressurize district administration and higher government officials following which the officials were bound to survey the area and realize the problems of the people of that area.

Nominated by Kavita Dass

Shachindra Bharti, Lucknow

Category: Gender Equality (male)

Shachindra started his journey as a teacher, in 1989. Presently, he is working as a principal in a school in the rural area of the city and is serving the cause of Beti Bachao – Beti Padhao. In all these years, he has always encouraged and supported me, his wife Sonia Bharti, to became a successful entrepreneur and establish an all-women managed organisation. In order to turn my dream into reality, he kept on motivating and encouraging me since the time I started my play school in 2004 with a venture capital of Rs 10,000 with a small infrastructure of 2 tables ,10 chairs and some educational toys in my own residential premises. It’s as a result of his support and planning, my play school has grown up exponentially and today I stand with more than 300 students on roll and 33 women employees including teachers and support staff.

The yearly turnover of my play school is now Rs 50 lakhs per annum. Presently, school is running at two locations in Rajajipuram area both being all-women managed organisation. He has also supported the causes like Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, teaching girls from poor back ground on very nominal fees and free of cost in many cases, we both are also associated with NGO which supports and helps poor girls for education and together we have pledged to contribute for the betterment of the society.

Nominated by Sonia Bharti

Shalu Singh

Category : Young society leaders

Drishti Samajik Sansthan founder Late Neeta Bahadur, the first HT Woman (2011) was a pioneer in the field of disabled welfare (special children). Her demise left behind a vacuum difficult to fill in but Shalu Singh, better known as Chotti Neeta, came into their lives.

She used to spend time with the special children at Drishti as she was my son Atharva’s classmate. She left her B.Tech and joined a course in Bachelor of Arts so that she can give more time to the kids.

Shalu brought in smart classes by placing Smart TVs all over the centre. This facilitated the special children to learn tables/alphabets/rhymes in no time. She also started some new vocational trades like quilling paper and cap jewellery, quilling paper painting; greetings card making, unique types of gel and wax candles, jute bags and mats, glass and wood engraving, pyrography and more. She with Atharva, who is a National Level Shooter, is providing pistol training to the girls. She has been instrumental in preparation of an Olympic standard indoor shooting range at the centre which is one of its kinds in the country.

Of late Shalu is involved in preparing a roof top Hydro therapy/Aqua therapy pool for the special children suffering from cerebral palsy and muscular atrophy.

To keep the kids at par with the outside world she has been regularly organising tips for the special kids to places like Nainital, Dudhwa, Regional Science City, zoo and more. She is now the joint director of Drishti.

Nominated by Dhiresh Bahadur

Sapna Upadhayay

Category:Social work

Sapna Upadhayay has been selflessly working for cancer patients specially kids and their families since 14 years now. She has been associated with ECWF, a non-government aided organisation, devoted to the cause of treatment and welfare of children suffering from cancer who come from less privileged background. Till date the foundation has provided assistance to nearly 4000 such children.

The medicines involved in the treatment of cancer are very expensive and beyond the capability of these poor families to afford them. Being unable to afford the high & low cost of these medicines these poor families return to their homes. Keeping these facts in mind Sapna has been instrumental in providing the children with required medicines so that all of them are able to undergo the required treatment.

Another step taken by Sapna along with the organisation was to provide ration to the families of the children who are suffering from cancer, so that they do not withdraw the treatment because of lack of food amenities. The immense support that Sapna not only helped the families with required ration but also made it a point to see that they get all lost nutrition in their diet. Sapna also made it point of empowering mothers and needy women by getting them trained in designing handmade paper jewellery, envelopes, recycled cloth bags, jute bags and more.

Nominated by ECWF Team & Dr Suryakant & Jyoti Sinha

Shipra Massey

Category:Social work

Hundreds of underprivileged women including rag pickers, daily wagers and house maids living in slums, particularly behind Fatima hospital in Padribazar and Mushar localities, were not aware of healthy menstrual practices until Shipra Massey, a social worker started visiting them in 2007 . She spread awareness about menstrual hygiene and distributed free sanitary napkins to them.

Shipra runs an NGO Jan Jagriti Sanstha making slum dwellers self dependent by imparting free training on sewing, pickles and jam making. She decided to spread awareness on menstrual cleanliness after she noticed during her work in slums that that over 85% women, including socially marginalised Mushars community and villagers in Gorakhpur, did not use sanitary pads and depended on old cloth pieces or other harmful stuff during menstruation. Her organisation also works for organising marriages of underprivileged girls besides holding blood donation camp in the city.

For her efforts she has been facilitated on different occasions and recently was honoured with Nari Samman Award .

Nominated by Abdul Jadid

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