Maharana of Mewar Charitable Foundation (MMCF) has over the years, been committed to nurturing centres of excellence in heritage management, fine arts, the performing arts, education, ecological management, hospitality, philanthropy, spirituality and sports. Unique in having conceived of, and actualized the practices of ‘living heritage’, the MMCF is sharing ancient legacies through broad-based and sustainable platforms of development within Rajasthan, in India and through global outreach programmes. Over the last four decades, its activities and endeavors have resulted in employment generation, stemming the rural migration to urban areas and instilling greater pride in traditional professions and craftspeople. This approach to holistic and comprehensive development by the Foundation has been acknowledged internationally, most importantly receiving the prestigious WT Award in 2012 at the United Nations General Assembly in New York, for its ‘contribution to universal culture’.
Maharana of Mewar Charitable Foundation pursues its mission of nurturing cultural values in society by adopting innovative methods of communicating and impacting.
Amongst the most important of these is providing recognition of excellence, through appreciation and acknowledgement of achievement through existing pursuits.
This year, Maharana Mewar Foundation 36th Annual Award Distribution Ceremony – 2018, an integral part of MMCF, held on Sunday the 11th March 2018 at The Manek Chowk, The City Palace, Udaipur. The distribution ceremony starts with the presentation of certificates to students from schools and universities in Udaipur and across the State of Rajasthan. This is followed by the main Ceremony when the international and national awardees gather on the dais to receive their awards from Shriji Arvind Singh Mewar of Udaipur, Chairman and Managing Trustee of Maharana of Mewar Charitable Foundation, Udaipur. The chief guest of the ceremony was Rashtrakavi Shri Balkavi Bairagi ji.
Announcing the International and National Annual Awards 2018, Convener of the Ceremony Dr. Mayank Gupta said that the international award, instituted in 1996 and named after Colonel James Tod is to honour a foreign national who has made a lasting contribution through his work of permanent value and understanding of the spirit and values of Mewar. This year the award will be given to Professor John Stratton Hawley, USA, who is Claire Tow Professor of Religion at Barnard College, Columbia University. He has written or edited some twenty books on Hinduism, India’s bhakti traditions, and the comparative study of religion. Professor Hawley’s recent work on the beautifully illustrated Maharana Amar Singh II (r.1698 – 1710 CE) Sursagar, painted in the royal atelier at Mewar, lies at the heart of a new hundred-page-long chapter that appears in the revised, expanded edition of his thematic study Surdas: Poet, Singer, Saint. This book, featuring upwards of thirty color plates, was launched by Primus Books at the India International Centre on January 8, 2018. All of Hawley’s writing on Surdas is indebted in one way or another to manuscript work he has undertaken in Udaipur, Rajasthan. This work stretches way back to the 1970’s and was crucially assisted by Dr. Brajmohan Jawaliya.
The National annual award, Haldighati Award, is given to an individual for work of permanent value that initiates an awakening in society through the medium of journalism. This year the award is given to Ms. Suhasini Haidar who is the Diplomatic Editor of The Hindu, one of India’s oldest and most respected National dailies (www.thehindu.com) She regularly writing on Foreign policy issues. Over the course of her 20 year reporting career, she has covered the most challenging stories and conflicts from the most diverse regions including Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Libya, Lebanon and Syria. In India she has covered the foreign affairs beat for over a decade. During her time reporting from the heart of conflict zones, she was injured in 2000 while in Kashmir when a car, booby-trapped with a gas cylinder packed with explosives in its boot, exploded.
Hakim Khan Sur Award instituted to honour work of permanent value for the cause of national integration is awarded to Dr. E. Sreedharan, ‘The Metro Man’, in recognition of his distinguished service of permanent value to society for providing transport links to millions throughout India. He came into the spotlight when he restored the 26 spans of Pamban Railway Bridge, which had been washed away by tidal waves on the 22nd December 1963 in a record time of 46 days. On his retirement, he headed the Konkan Railway Corporation Ltd. as its CMD and executed the 760 km long Konkan Railway from Mumbai to Mangalore in an incredibly short period of seven years. On completion of the Konkan Railway he was selected to head the prestigious Delhi Metro as its Managing Director. His pioneering contribution to the Delhi Metro and to the spread of Metro revolution in the country has earned him the nick name ‘Metro Man’
Maharana Udai Singh Award instituted to honour work of permanent value in protecting and enriching the environment, hand-in-hand with future development is awarded to Mr. Gafarbhai Qureshi, farmer from Ramdechi, Talala, Gir Somnath District of Gujarat. He has used traditional farming methods on several plantations before meeting Prof. Anil Gupta from the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad who initiated the idea of a ‘Shodh Yatra’ (A journey in search of knowledge). He has travelled through nearly 19 states; completed 40 Shodh Yatras. He has studied 6 crore of plants and planted 5200 varieties of plants in the nursery ‘Qureshi Baug’ over the last 20 years. Now he is starting to look for Hakims and Gardeners during his Yatras who are over the age of 90 and has made it a point to meet retired agri-scientists from various Universities to gain more knowledge from them. He has trained nearly 10,000 farmers and a number of students. Almost 1 lakh visitors visit his nursery every year. He treats the workforce at his nursery as part of his extended family taking care of their food, clothing and even education of their children.
Another National Award is Panna Dhai Award instituted to honour an individual who has rendered selfless service, rising beyond the call of duty and setting an example to society of permanent value through sacrifice, in the face of immense hostility. This is awarded to Mr. Salim Gafur Sheikh and Mr. Harsh Desai. It is the story of a courageous bus driver from Gujarat, Mr. Salim Gafur Sheikh and the unsung hero of the Amarnath Yatra terror attack, Mr. Harsh Desai, son of the bus owner, who between them saved 52 Amarnath pilgrims from a terror attack in Jammu and Kashmir on 10th July 2017. On the first Monday of the month of Shraavana, Hindu civilian pilgrims were on the way from Amarnath Temple when they were attacked by terrorists. It was due to the remarkable courage and presence of mind shown by Salim and Harsh that many lives were saved in the attack. Mr. Sheikh, the driver of the 56 seater bus from Valsad, Gujarat was carrying 60 pilgrims from Srinagar to Jammu, he showed extraordinary bravery when a group of terrorists surrounded the bus and started firing indiscriminately around 08.20 pm near Batengoo in Kashmir’s Anantnag District. He continued to drive at full speed for more than 2 kms, with a flat tyre, in pitch darkness through a hail of bullets. He only applied brakes to the bus after reaching a military camp, from the site where they were ambushed, saving 52 pilgrims who were still in the bus. As Mr. Sheikh ducked to save himself, three bullets hit Mr. Desai, who was sitting by his side. Though Mr. Desai collapsed he pressed Mr. Sheikh to keep on driving to the safe camp despite the sound of gunfire.
Maharishi Harit Rashi Award is awarded to Pandit (Dr.) Chandrakant Purohit (Munshi), who is a retired teacher. His pioneering work over the last 28 years includes Karma Kand and Jyotish Vidhya. Another Maharishi Harit Rashi is awarded Dr. Sandeep Joshi, well-known name in the field of oriental research and preservation of our Indian Heritage and ancient literature. He proved through his research work that India is the first country in the world where a scientific and systematic study of the animals was conducted thousands of years before the evolution of Zoological science in the western world. He has done a remarkable work on ancient Indian Equinology (The Science of Horses) and published an illustrated Sanskrit manuscript of Ashvashastra which is a brief compendium of important facts of Equinology based on the works of ancient Indian Equinologists like Sahailihotra, Nakula, Graga etc. This work has already earned him world-wide popularity and spread the knowledge of ancient Indian Science of horses all over the world.
Maharana Mewar Award has been instituted to honour work of permanent value rendered to society, in the field of social service, nation building and character building activities, contributed through educational methods. This year’s award is given to Ms. Raspreet Sidhu, captain of the Indian Basketball Women’s Team. Presently she is working as a Director of Sports for Shiv Nadar Schools at Shiv Nadar Foundation, New Delhi. Another Maharana Mewar Award was awarded to Prof. Satyavrat Shastri, a highly decorated Sanskrit scholar, riter, grammar expert and poet from India. He is currently an honorary professor at the Special Centre for Sanskrit Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi and is working on a multi volume Sanskrit Mahakavya on the principal cultural currents of the Worlds. He is the first recipient of the Jnanpith Award in Sanskrit – 2009; Padma Shri – 2009 and Padma Bhushan Award – 2010 for literature and education. He is also described as ‘a living legend in the field of Sanskrit’ in a Citation for the Honorary Doctorate at the Silpakorn University, Bangkok. Maharana Mewar Award is also awarded to Mr. Aabid Surti, writer in Hindi and Gujarati who is also an expert in Urdu. He has won critical acclaim for multiple creative talents in India and abroad as a painter; author; cartoonist; journalist; environmentalist; playwright and screen writer besides being a ‘one-man’ NGO – Drop Dead Foundation committed to ‘save every drop of water’. The list of his creative accomplishments befits half a dozen people rather than one individual.
Maharana Kumbha Award is awarded to Mr. Dev Kishan Rajpurohit, Naguar, is renowned for his Rajasthani literature. His writings are known for remarkable clarity; subtle observation and sensitivity. His poems reflect his clear vision and deep insights.
Maharana Sajjan Singh Award is awarded to Mr. Abhishek Joshi, from a lineage of Phad artists in Shahpura, Bhilwara, Rajasthan. Presently he is working on researching the history of Mewar from books and journals and depicting Mewar by portraying inimitable episodes of heroism; sacrifice; courage; bravery; traditions and cultures into a unique 60 ft x10 ft long Phad painting.
Dagar Gharana Award was awarded to Shri Prashant Mallick and Shri Nishant Mallick who are listed among the finest Dhrupad vocalists in the field of Hindustani Vocal. They belong to the illustrious family of musicians, Darbhanga Gharana which is music tradition of over 450 years. They represent the 13th generation of this musical lineage that has produced many musical masters.
Ms. Vardi Bai, is awarded the Rana Punja Award. She is resident of Malaira Village, Gogunda. She has become a leader of Social Change in society. She has helped organise training women clusters through women training centres, filling gender gaps through increased women participative actions; prohibiting liquor consumption by men and women in the village; empowering women ; income generation; overcoming caste based inequality and unjust practices; ensuring a better livelihood and working hard towards opposing the practice of polygamy.
Aravali Award is awarded for the outstanding achievements in sports and games from Rajasthan. This year award is given to Mr. Himanshu Lamba, is a National and International, Roll Ball and was the highest scorer in the 3rd South Asian Roll Ball Championship held at Kathmandu, Nepal at International Level; where he represented India from 29th – 30th December 2017 and where India secured 1st position. Another Aravali Award is given to Mr. Mihir Soni, Power lifter from Udaipur has won 4 Gold Medals in Commonwealth Sub – Junior Category of the Commonwealth Power lifter Championship held in South Africa – 2017 who also became the 1st Boy of India to achieve ‘Best Lifter’ title in 2017 Commonwealth Games a great achievement and ‘feather in the cap’ for the city of Udaipur.. Both awardees have made the sports fraternity proud of their commitment, strength, courage, enthusiasm and strong determination demonstrating their skill at various Championships across the world
This year Best Police Station of Rajasthan Award was given to Police Station Makbara, District Kota, Rajasthan.
This year Bhamashah Student Award was given to 23 students, Maharana Raj Singh Student Award to 17 students and Maharana Fateh Singh Student Award to 76 students.
Vote of thanks was given by Mr. Lakshyaraj Singh Mewar of Udaipur, Trustee, Maharana of Mewar Charitable Foundation, Udaipur.