Sunday, 1 July 2012

Felicitation of Ms. Suman Bang

Kamalabai Hospet was the founder of Matru Sewa Sangh, an NGO which worked for women and children, focussing on health, education and development programmes. Ms. Hospet was a pioneer of women's issues till her last breath.

The first Kamalabai Hospet award was recently awarded to Ms. Suman Bang, the head of Women's and Children's Empowerment wing of Chetana-Vikas. The function happened in Wardha on May 23rd, 2012. The function was completely managed by women, and was in a true sense a function for the women, by the women, of the women!
 Ms. Suman Bang lighting the lamp.

(From L to R) Standing - Ms. Pendharkar. Sitting - Kishori Valunjkar, Leelatai Chitale, Suman Bang.

The life of Ms. Hospet and Ms. Suman Bang has many parallels, and in words of the award committee, "it seemed only fitting that the first awardee should be Sumantai". Chief guest of the function, Leelatai Chitale who herself is an eminent social worker and grassroot activist described the process of choosing the first awardee, and said that the committee was unanimously positive when Ms. Bang's name came up. She also said, "our award gained much acceptance, recognition and relevance when Sumantai decided to accept it."

(From L to R) Leelatai Chitale felicitating Suman Bang.
The certificate reads in Marathi, and traverses the 86 years of life and more than 60 years of social work done by Ms. Bang. It describes her teaching and administration experience as the principal of 'Nai Taleem' school, which literally means a school involving 'new education', and was one of the first of its kind in independent India which emphasised on experimental education through simple, inexpensive but effective pedagogical methodologies based on Mahatma Gandhi's ideas on education. 

It also mentions her active presence in Vinoba Bhave's Bhudaan (bhu = land, daan = bequest/donation), Gramdaan (gram = village, daan = bequest/donation) and Gramsvarajya movements (gram = village, swarajya = self-governance). Bhudaan and Gramdaan were revolutionary movements, and it won't be an exaggeration to term them revolutionary in the history of mankind, bringing about decentralisation and redistribution of land ownership from the rich to the poor, facilitated by social workers such as Ms. Bang. Gramswarajya (or Panchayat Raj as is known now) was the seed sown 50 years back aiming at decentralisation of political and social power, making villages more self-reliant and self-governed. 

The certificate also mentions her imprisonment in 1975 for taking a stand against 'the emergency' which can easily be hailed as one of the worst phases in Indian democracy. Ms. Suman was a part of the movement started by Jay Prakash Narayan against the ruling administration of Congress, especially Indira Gandhi, the then Prime Minister of India, whose 'rule by decree' resulted in a state of emergency in the nation and caused severe impingement on the civic, political and personal rights of the citizens.

The certificate also talks about her work with Chetana-Vikas as the head of Women's and Children's Empowerment wing for last 34 years, about which the readers of this blog are familiar.

The function concluded with Ms. Suman's thoughts on her life and her work.

Ms. Bang speaking about her work and her life.

We celebrate the work and life of Ms. Suman Bang, and are grateful to the award committee who thought of her.

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