Jharkhand’s laxmi ladlis during Foundation Day celebrations in 2011
Ranchi, Feb. 13: The land of yesteryear tribal superwomen Singi Dei, Phulo, Jhano, Runia, Jhunia does not have a single name to offer as a recommendation to Stree Shakti Puraskar 2012.
Instituted by the Union ministry of women and child development in 1999, the awards — Rs 3 lakh and a citation — meant for achievers in social development are conferred by the President of India every year on International Women’s Day, March 8.
The state department, directed to form a screening panel to examine nominations and send the final recommendation to the Centre by January 10, 2013, has drawn a complete blank.
This despite the fact that an advertisement seeking names was released in leading newspapers across the country on November 28, 2012. The Centre also wrote a letter in this regard to Mridula Sinha, principal secretary, department of social welfare, Jharkhand, on December 10, 2012.
Stree Shakti Puraskar is a set of six awards. Five, named after five eminent Indian women, Kannagi, Mata Jijabai, Devi Ahilya Bai Holkar, Rani Lakshmi Bai and Gaidinliu Zeliang, are given exclusively to women who do outstanding work in the field of social development.
The sixth, Rani Rudramani Devi award, is conferred to a man or woman for his or her outstanding administration skill, leadership quality and courage.
Principal secretary Sinha told The Telegraph that reminders had been sent to all deputy commissioners the previous week and she was “hopeful about getting some recommendable names”.
But one can’t get away from the fact that over a month has passed beyond the stated deadline.
On the apparent paucity of women achievers in the state, social welfare department deputy secretary Sanjeev Sharan said: “We had written to all deputy commissioners to send us names after receiving the letter in December. We have not received recommendations from any district.”
Jharkhand has many women achievers, but not one has been ever conferred with the award.
In contrast, Chhattisgarh, the state created the same year as Jharkhand, has bagged the prestigious Puraskar in 2004, 2009 and 2011.
Pooravi Pal, secretary of women’s NGO Shramjeevi Mahila Samiti, decried the state of affairs.
“I know many women in Jharkhand who have devoted their life for social uplift. The state has no dearth of such women. In fact every district has women who do unparalleled work. Even if they don’t make it to the final round, the state should announce nominated names, which will be cause for equal pride,” Pal said.
It is not that the state doesn’t honour women. Former chief minister Arjun Munda observed one year starting November 15, 2011, as Bitiya Varsh, launching a slew of education scholarship schemes under Laxmi Ladli Yojana for girls.
But that was a blanket scheme. When it comes to assessing individual women achievers, the state evidently is under-qualified.