Ramakanta Biswas

Bhubaneswar: As many as six persons from Odisha have been conferred with the Padma awards this year. Among the awardees are three little-known personalities who have been recognized by the Centre for their contributions in the field of art, literature, education, and social service. Here is a look at the life and achievements of the three commoners.

Purnamasi Jani, a septuagenarian tribal poet and singer from Kandhamal district, received the prestigious Padma Shri award this year. She has not received a formal education, but helps others through her songs and address social issues.

She has sung about 10,000 devotional songs. Despite being a woman, she is known as Tadisaru Baba.

Reacting to the conferment of the award, Jani thanked the Narendra Modi government and also prayed for happiness and prosperity across the world.

Another recipient of the prestigious award is social worker Shanti Devi who has dedicated her life to the uplift of tribal women and children. Born in 1934 in a landlord family in Balasore, she eventually moved to the tribal-dominated Koraput district along with her doctor husband. She set up an ashram and started serving people with chronic diseases.

She had set up an ashram in Rayagada district and worked for the education of the tribal girl children. She also became a mother to hundreds of orphan children.

“So far, five ashrams have been set up for the children. I will continue to do this service throughout my life,” said Shanti Devi.

Another little know person, who has been bestowed with the Padma Shri award is, Nanda Kishore Prusty popularly known as Nanda Master. At 103, he still imparts education to children at Kantira village under Sukinda of Jajpur district. While Nanda Sir’s Pathsalahas turned 75 years, he never received remuneration for teaching.

“I am honoured for being conferred with the prestigious award. I will continue to teach the children till my last breath,” Prusty said.

(Edited By Pradeep Singh)