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Search for unsung heroes

The search for the extraordinary within the ordinary has begun with the announcement of the Officer’s Choice Anandalok Salaam Bengal on Wednesday.

The award, in its fourth edition this year, is given in four categories — bravery, health services, sports and education — and is for unsung heroes who are working for the betterment of society without any expectation of attention or recognition.

The programme is designed in phases and starts with awareness programmes involving a multi-media campaign about the awards through advertisements in The Telegraph and Anandabazar Patrika and promotionals in 91.9 Friends FM for a month.

The advertisements will be followed by short-listing and validation. After the short-list is made from the pool of entries, a team will visit each candidate to validate their credentials.

“Some of the entries come from very remote areas. One such case was a village in Bengal which had no electricity and we had to work by our car headlights,” said an organiser.

This year, the entries will be judged by a four-member panel — designer Agnimitra Paul, singer Lopamudra Mitra, physician Subrata Maitra and chess player Dibyendu Barua.

The award is divided into three zones — North Bengal, South Bengal and Calcutta. The award ceremony will take place in Jalpaiguri for North Bengal, Durgapur for South Bengal and in Calcutta at the end of this year or early next year.

“We have received an overwhelming response for the past three years and we feel that this initiative — of recognising unsung heroes who have made extraordinary choices — has inspired the masses and will continue to do so,” said Ashoke Mukherjee, the head of corporate affairs, Allied Blenders & Distillers.

“The entries are so good and worthy that as judges, it becomes difficult for us to choose a winner. At a time when many of us feel dejected with the state of affairs around, these are the people who bring in a ray of hope and who prove through their work that they are extraordinary,” said Paul.

Mitra expressed her desire to travel and unearth unknown faces worthy of the award rather than just judge them.