We being a small organization doing such a big award event are not so easy. In the past twelve years we learned a lot but this year it was a real experience for life. The first invite began with Shri Anna Hazare, my team and me travelled to his hometown to meet him, it was great to visit. He not only accepted our invite but also assured us about his presence. He agreed and allowed publicity materials to declare his name.
One day before the event he sent me a message stating that he is unwell and will not be able to attend the event. We were upset but considerate because he is an old man and health is of utmost concern. Still, we again approached him to ask what exactly went wrong. I was not only shocked but it was ghastly to know the reason.
Well! Meanwhile, we invited many politicians and some prominent social workers but they refused to come assuming Hazare’s presence in the event. Keeping the balance between these elements and nominating people for the award was like walking on the thin rope.
Some demanded money as donations, some asked for some allowances for their travels, some wanted flight tickets and some refused because we could not provide the accommodation. This time we realized, whatever might be the intent behind this award-giving, what some people need is money to mark their presence.
We went ahead with our choices, our second invite was given to Baba Saheb Purandare, frankly speaking, we never expected that at this age he would agree to take the award, but he was really very considerate and excited to come to Mumbai. I never saw a 100-year young man, with so much willingness and determination. His staff was in communication with me till the last moment. His approach towards life and us really motivated me a lot.
On the same day, I met our honourable governor Bhagat Singh Ji. It was like going to the maternal home, he was very kind considerate, humorous. His experiences were very valuable. He is really a people’s man, whiteout any hitch he allowed us to do the program at Raj Bhavan. My happiness knew no bounds.
Then comes the legendary Lata Mangeshkar, I actually thought it would be very difficult to communicate with her. But she and her niece Rachna was the most humble person I have ever come across. Tears were rolling on my cheeks and I had no words to express when Latadi called my name, she was taking and I was just listing. She said I am accepting this award but due to health reasons I will not be able to give my physical presence. Within two days of time, she sent me a lovely message to play it on the event day. Life, isn’t it?
Babasaheb Purandare, Lata Didi, Manda Tai Amte like legends do they really need my award? But by accepting it they made me believe in myself. They made me believe in humankind, they made me believe that the real human side is this. We are a young team with huge ambitions. These legends instil that confidence in us.
We are a small organization, paying donations or a fund is not affordable for us. Our newspaper is self-funded, we have no godfather or supporter. We don’t take sponsorship because we value our choices and in between the sponsors propose one or two awards and sometimes they want awards to be given by their hands. There is no credibility and why would somebody give you money without any self or wasted interest? The entire purpose of giving honest awards would get compromised. We don’t want any controversies or confrontations while walking out straight path.
We slog throughout the year; reserve some funds every month for this day. It’s our hard-earned money and above all sincere intent. The best we can do is to make worthy choices and make their day memorable. Many awardees demand flight tickets and stay, which is not practically possible for us. Sometimes we have to blatantly refuse. Not because we don’t care for them, but because we accept, we can’t afford it.
We give these awards to motivate some and express our gratitude for those who made huge contributions. This is one of the ways to separate the best from the good. An award of any kind and in any field of the arts and sciences, including medicine, film and TV, theatre and stage, in academic research and of cultural and physical anthropology, agriculture and horticulture, mechanical and electrical engineering-and all awards given in every field of honouring human Excellence-should be honoured and appreciated by all societies recognizing the development of human- globally. To me, it is most encouraging of the human spirit, and I think it is our duty to encourage the generations.
We are very grateful to all our awardees for accepting our award and us.
Thank you and congratulations.