A boy with achievements so impressive and a smile so radiant, you don’t notice the wheelchair he uses to get around. A woman who spent most of her life reviving the lost and forgotten crafts of India, and a man who made it his life’s mission to save rainwater. A group of youngsters who went the extra mile to pass on the gift of education and a ‘lion-hearted’ cardiologist who serves celebrities and manual labourers alike. These were the people handpicked by the Rotary Club of Chennai Towers (RCCT), to receive awards and citations for their contribution to society at an elegant award ceremony in the city on Thursday.
Receiving his Young Achiever award, a beaming Karthik Chandrasekhar drew a standing ovation when he made his acceptance speech. The inspiring young man did not let the physical limitations of cerebral palsy get in the way of his ambitions – to become a chess player, a quiz whiz, an M Phil graduate and an entrepreuner who runs his own library.
RCCT’s For the Sake of Honour award was presented to Vijaya Rajan, chairperson of the Crafts Council of India. Accepting her award, Rajan said, “The Crafts Council of India works towards revitalising craft communities and preserving centuries-old techniques that are dying out. We support traditional craftsmen, and offer their children a regular education, so they can also learn the hand skills that have been passed down through the generations, so they can continue the crafts.”
By supporting traditional crafts, CCI also ensures that these families do not move to the cities to live poverty-stricken lives in dirty slums and work in industries, she added.
The award for excellence in the field of education was awarded to NGO Bhumi, the countries largest youth volunteer body. “Our volunteers are aged between 18 and 30, and are mostly college students and working professionals. They mentor poor children and kids from rural schools, teaching them maths, science and computer science. The volunteers also offer kids career counseling,” said Dr Prahalathan, one of the founders of the NGO.
Dr Sekar ‘Rainman’ Raghavan received the award of excellence in the field of environmental campaigning, for his untiring efforts to make people realise the importance of rainwater harvesting. “I have come a long way from the days when I used to be chased away by watchmen of high-rise apartments,” says Raghavan, who single-handledly implemented and created awareness about the concept, through his organisation ‘Rain Centre’. The Lifetime Achievment award for medicine was presented to veteran cardiologist Dr Sivakadaksham, who is revered as a savior by poor patients. The doctor manages to raise funds from friends and family to operate on needy patients, free of cost.