Gwalior-based Shrivastava family is possibly the only family in the country that has been conferred with the highest number of national and President’s awards.
The family of 17 among themselves possesses 13 national-level awards, including eight President’s awards and five national awards in number of categories ranging from bravery to excellence in teaching over the past four and half decades.
The members first to be conferred with the President’s awards were Sushila and Rajendra at the age of 19 and 13 in 1970.
The oldest member and matriarch of the family, 78-year-old Shakuntala Devi was awarded the President’s Jeevan Raksha Padak for saving a woman from drowning in the Naramada River in 2005 at Omkareshwar temple in Madhya Pradesh’s Khandwa district. She was 68-years-old when she was received the award.
Shakuntala Devi has five children, including a daughter and four sons. Her daughter and two sons were awarded the President and National awards on a number of occasions.
Her daughter, Sushila and son, Rajendra were the first to receive the President’s Guide and Scout award in 1970.
Her husband, Jawaharlal, who was a head master in a government school, received the National award for excellence in teaching in 1988. He passed away in 2005.
“I have brought up my children to set an example for others in whatever they do. I have always asked them to be brave and dedicate themselves for the betterment of the people,” says Shakuntala Devi.
“I am proud that my children and grandchildren have been living their life on the principles that I have taught them,” she tells Hindustan Times.
Shakuntala Devi’s eldest son, Rajendra, 59, says that they have tried to achieve perfection in whatever they do in their life.
“My father was a head-master and a man of principles. He imbibed those principles in us while nurturing us,” he says.
“What I learned from my parents, I am trying to pass to my children.” Rajendra’s two children, Rashmi and Harsh were also conferred with the national bravery awards in 1999 and President’s Jeevan Raksha Padak in 2000, for saving a 9-year-old boy from the attack of a mad ox in Gwalior.
Rashmi and Harsh were aged 14 and 11 years when they received the national bravery award.
Shakuntala Devi’s grandchildren and sons of her second eldest son– Bhagwat Swaroop, Sumit and Amit –have also received the President’s Jeevan Raksha Padak and National Bravery Award for saving an 18-year-old man stuck to an electric pole in 2002. They were 12 and 10-years-old when they showed their heroic act.
Shakuntala Devi’s youngest son, Pankaj received the National Bravery Award in 1986 for saving her from being drowning in a nullah near the house. He was 15 at the time of the incident.
He heard an unusual sound from the nullah and going near to it, he saw a person covered in mud, desperately trying to get out of the flooded nullah. On getting close to the person, he realised that the person was his mother.
The latest member of the family to join the list of awardees, is 15- year-old Abhiruchi, who will be conferred with the President’s Jeevan Raksha Padak on Independence Day on August 15 at a function in Bhopal.
Abhiruchi saved her grandmother– Shakuntala Devi– who accidently caught fire at their house in Gwalior in 2014.
“I have heard the tales of different bravery acts of my family members. They have always motivated me to be courageous and live without fear,” says Abhiruchi.
“When I saw my grandmother lying unconscious near a fire, I just rushed towards her and saved her without panicking,,” she says.
“My ambition is to become an IAS officer as I would like to serve the people of the country with utmost courage and bravery, carrying my family’s legacy forward.”