The people of Chennai emerged winners at the 10th edition of the CNN News 18 Indian of the Year Awards for the spirit of selfless volunteerism that they displayed during the marauding floods of December 2015.
“The floods were the worst disaster in 100 years for Chennai. But they united the people like never before. Beginning with a handful of people, gradually there were more volunteers than victims on the streets of Chennai,” said RJ Balaji, the brain behind the Chennai Micro Fund Trust, after receiving the award from Union finance minister Arun Jaitley, one of the guests of honour.
Also present on the podium was Aruna Anand, wife of chess champion Viswanathan Anand, one of the celebrities who opened their homes and hearts for the flood victims, along with actor Siddharth.
The Bandhan Bank, which made providing financial services to the poor profitable, beat Team Make in India, Team Micromax, Team Ola and industrialists Uday Kotak and Cyrus Poonawalla to win in the business category.
“In August 2015, we turned into a full-fledged bank and today, we have 605 branches across 27 states with deposits of over Rs 5,000 crore,” said its chairman and managing director Chandra Shekhar Ghosh after receiving the award.
Riding on a hot streak of 41 matches without even losing once in 2015, Sania Mirza emerged victorious in the sports category. “It was incredible. We did not lose a match for six months in a sport where you play every week of the year. I dedicate this award to every girl who was told not to play sports because they would get a tan,” Mirza said.
SS Rajamouli, the director of Baahubali: The Beginning, emerged the winner in the entertainment category for making a movie that became a pan-India success and the third-highest global grossing Indian film of all time.
The event also saw a poignant moment when the hockey team that won India’s last Olympic gold medal in 1980 came on stage to honour three-time gold medallist Balbir Singh Senior, 91, India’s greatest living Olympian. Also honoured with a special award was indefatigable tennis champion Leander Paes, on the verge of creating a world record by participating in his seventh Olympics.
Actor Kangana Ranaut won a Special Achievement award for her role in the 2015 hit Tanu Weds Manu Returns, while actor Ranveer Singh was also honoured.
The awards were presented by CNN News 18 in association with Hindustan Times.