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HindustanTimes Mon,29 Dec 2014

Young guns who fired change

HT Correspondents, Hindustan Times   July 07, 2013
First Published: 00:17 IST(7/7/2013) | Last Updated: 00:50 IST(7/7/2013)

President Pranab Mukherjee on Thursday conferred the National Youth Award 2011-12 on 27 individuals at Rashtrapati Bhawan in Delhi and here are eight of them from the north region. It is for the first time that the President gave away the awards instituted in 1985 for youth development and social service.

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Ruchi Kaushik
26, Mahendragarh, Haryana
Motivator
Postgraduate in political science from Maharshi Dayanand University
Award category: social work
Associated with Narnaul's Jan Sadhbhawna Samiti organisation, she helped women from poor economic class form self-help group to earn their livelihood in the remote Mahendergarh region. "The mission of Jan Sadhbhawna Samiti is to organise blood-donation camps and spread awareness to counter AIDS. My vision is to motivate people to pledge their eyes for donation once they are gone," she said.

Ashok Kumar Bhardwaj
34, Bhiwani, Haryana
Enviromentalist
BEd, MA from Maharshi Dayanand University
Award category: social work
His "Ek Beti Ek Ped (One Daughter, One Tree)" programme encouraged many people to honour girl child by planting trees. He has contributed to water and environmental conservation and sanitation. Ashok Bhardwaj plants trees every day and always travels by bicycle. Once he organised 417 social awareness programmes in a year. "Besides recognition, social service gives me the most satisfaction," he said.

Suman
27, Kaithal, Haryana
Vice-president, Gramin Yuva Vikas Mandal, Chhoth Postgraduate in computer science and social work from Kurukshetra University
Award category: social work
Associated with more than 12 NGOs working in more than 50 villages of Kaithal district, she trained women in making detergents, candles, bangles, and carpets, besides educating villagers about the benefits of insurance, beekeeping and regular plantation. "My family dislikes my social work and even this award from the President has not cheered it up," she said.

Khushmeet Kaur Bains
23, Ludhiana, Punjab
Working for slum children
Postgraduate in botany from Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana
Award category: social work
Winner of Indira Gandhi National Service Scheme Award in 2011 and Shaheed-e-Aazam Bhagat Singh State Youth Award in 2010, Khushmeet was only 11 when she saw slum children begging in Ludhiana and avowed to educate them. "Oscar-winning Hollywood movie 'Slumdog Millionaire' inspired children from slums to flock to my classes. My grandparents also have done social work," she said.
 
Gurnam Singh Sidhu
35, Ferozepur, Punjab
Disaster management worker
Postgraduate in physical education from Nagpur
Award category: Disaster management and social work
Besides disaster management, Sidhu has worked for AIDS awareness, blood donation, illiteracy mitigation, adult education, anti-dowry mission, fight against child abuse and orgainsation of cultural activities. "The desire to work for society is the sole inspiration," he said. He was best social worker of Ferozepur district in 1998 and winner of Shaheed-E-Azam Bhagat Singh State Youth Award in 2006.

Kiran Kumar Sharma
23, Akhnoor, Jammu and Kashmir
NSS volunteer
Postgraduate in political science from Jammu University
Award category: youth development and education
Winner of Indira Gandhi NSS Award in the year 2010-11 and National Performance Award in 2009, he was on the Indian youth-exchange delegation to South Korea and was also country youth representative, Commonwealth Youth Caucus, Asia Centre. "Volunteer work in the Gandhian Centre for Peace, University of Jammu, and National Service Scheme inspired me to work for youth development," he said

Gurmeet Kaur
32, Kullu, Himachal Pradesh
Theatre activist, riots survivor
Did graduation through correspondence
Award category: social work
Gurmeet Kaur, at 3, lost her father and family business in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots. After studies, she got into theatre and performed 5,000 street plays countrywide. Her Natarj Vikas and Kalyan Sangathan trains poor village women of Kullu to be self-reliant. "At Malana, once infamous for Cannabis cultivation, more than 1,000 women today are associated with my organisation that also runs a daycare centre for abandoned senior citizens," she said.

Besar Dass Harnot
31, Shimla, Himachal Pradesh
Author, awareness campaigner
Graduate from Himachal Pradesh University
Award category: social work
Besar Dass Harnot is inspired by Pahari writer SR Harnot. A rare youth who opted to stay on his farm, he formed youth organization Nehru Yuva Lok Kalyan Parishad in 2003 to work for environment protection, heritage education, drug rehabilitation, and AIDS awareness. He gave industrial employment training to more than 100 youths and wrote a book, "Lakshya". "We motivated hundreds of youths to quit drugs," said Harnot.

Compiled by: Sat Singh, Vishal Joshi, Gaurav Sagar Bhaskar, Anuja Khushu, Naresh Thakur and Gaurav Bisht

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