Shillong, Feb. 1: The first Padma Shri from Meghalaya, Silverine Swer, passed away at her residence here today. She was 103.
A resident of Riatsamthiah locality, Swer was born on November 12, 1910.
Affectionately called Kong Sil, Swer was a stalwart in the Girl Guides movement.
As a student of Scottish Church College, Calcutta, Swer had witnessed the swadeshi movement in 1930.
In an interview with The Telegraph on the eve of her 100th birthday in 2010, Swer said she considered Calcutta her second home.
After her matriculation and graduation from Calcutta University, she began her career in 1932 serving in various capacities at different government and non-governmental organisations. She also served in several schools as a high school teacher.
In 1938, she was appointed the local adviser-cum-trainer of the Girl Guide movement and imparted training at schools in what is now Assam, Bangladesh and Mizoram.
During World War II, from 1944-49, she served as the assistant controller of rationing under the Assam government.
Swer was awarded the Kaiser-i-Hind medal by the government for her efficiency and integrity while handling the rationing system and for service to the Girl Guide movement in Assam.
She was the first Khasi woman to hold such an important administrative post.
An environmental activist, Swer used to deplore the lack of initiatives on the part of the authorities and the residents to protect the environment as well as the eroding values in society.
When she became a centenarian, then Meghalaya governor Ranjit Shekhar Mooshahary hosted a birthday party in her honour at the Raj Bhavan here.
Arunachal Pradesh governor Gen. (retd) J.J. Singh was also present on the occasion.
“She was one of the great daughters of Meghalaya. She had an active and a fulfilling life,” Mooshahary said over phone today while expressing sadness over Swer’s demise. He also said he would fondly remember the felicitation programme at the Raj Bhavan.
During Swer’s birthday celebrations, Mooshahary had said, “You have added life to your years, not years to your life.”
Indeed, Swer, through her work in these 103 years, had added life, and left indelible footprints in the sands of time.
Swer’s funeral will take place on Monday at 1pm, and her mortal remains laid to rest at the cemetery of the Presbyterian Church, Mawkhar at Mission Compound.