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Padma Awardees at VoW 2020

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By PREETI RAWAT BHANDARI/AKSHAY PANDEY
Team VoW is pleased to announce that there would be  four Padma Awardees in this year’s edition of VoW, and thus the quality of interaction and engagement in this literature festival would not only be quite informative, but also more nuanced.
The event will begin with Dr Anil Joshi, who will join the session ‘Desh-Videsh me Hindi’. He is an Indian green activist, social worker, botanist and the founder of Himalayan Environmental Studies and Conservation Organization (HESCO), a Dehradun-based non-governmental organization involved in the development of environmentally sustainable technologies for the agricultural sector. He is  recipient of the Jamnalal Bajaj Award and the Ashoka Fellowship. The Government of India awarded him the fourth highest civilian honour the Padma Shri, in 2006, for his contribution to Indian society. He was also awarded the Padma Bhushan 2020 for social work in Uttarakhand.
Anil Joshi was born on 6 April 1955 at Kotdwar, in Pauri Garhwal district, in the present day Uttarakhand state of India in a family of farmers and secured a master’s degree in botany and a doctoral degree in ecology. He started his career as a member of faculty at the Kotdwar Government PG College but resigned from the job in 1979 and founded Himalayan Environmental Studies and Conservation Organization (HESCO), a non-governmental organization. Under the aegis of HESCO, Joshi promoted research and development of new environment-friendly technologies for the agricultural sector, tapping the local resources. He is supported by a team of 30 people, and the group is known to have been involved in the dissemination of knowledge on eco-friendly techniques and technologies in 40 villages in the state. His concept of Gross Environmental Product has since been adopted by the State Government.
In tge session on ‘Time and Eternity’, Ritu Menon will  join the conversation and enrich it with her thoughts on life, letters, literature and history. As she said in the PRISM Lecture in 2014 ‘When an individual’s life illustrates a profound engagement with a nation’s history, it invites the attention of minds across time. When such a movement is closely watched and written about, there emerges a rare view of continuity and discontinuity as parallel streams, both in the life of the subject and that of the nation. Referring to Nayantara Sahgal’s biography she calls it a text that simultaneously hints at an incipient biography of post-Independence India. Through an exploration of Sahgal’s life, her politics and her fiction and non-fiction, it concludes that the ‘discontinuous continuous’ indeed characterizes the lives of individuals as much as it does that of countries and cultures.
A few words about Ritu Menon. In 1984, she founded with Urvashi Butalia the first exclusively feminist publishing house in the country, Kali for Women. She has co-authored Borders & Boundaries: Women in India are Partition (Kali for Women, 1998) and edited No Woman’s Land: Women from Pakistan, India & Bangladesh Write about the Partition of India (Women Unlimited, 2004). This finds a resonance in The Radiance of a Thousand Suns, our Award winning publication, in which two protagonists Nooran and Jyot and survivors and victims of multiple violence .As part of the Core Group of Women’s WORLD, India, Ritu has co-edited Just between Us: Women Speak About their Writing (Women Unlimited, 2004) and Storylines: Conversations with Women Writers (Women Unlimited, 2003). Her book From Mathura to Manorama: Resisting Violence Against Women in India (Women Unlimited, 2007) was co-authored with Kalpana Kannabiran. She has also authored numerous newspaper articles and op-eds. Ritu Menon focuses on the questions of feminism and violence, religion and social order. In 2011, the Government of India conferred the Padma Shri on her.
Malini Awasthi is a panelist in the session ‘Pracheen Mulya Aadhunik Jeevan’ her recitals are in Hindi as well as related languages such as Bhojpuri, Awadhi and Bundelkhandi. She also presents in Thumri and Kajri.  She has made a name for herself in the world of culture and the arts.  n  born in Kannauj Uttar Pradesh, Malini Awasthi  is a post graduate as well as gold medalist in Hindustani classical music from Bhatkhande University, Lucknow  as well as  a gold medal in masters in  History with specialization in Medieval and modern Indian architecture from the University of Lucknow. She is a Ganda- Bandh student of Legendary Hindustani Classical Singer, Padma Vibhushan Vidushi Girija Devi of Banaras Gharana. This truly multi-faceted personality was awarded the civilian honour of the Padma Shri in 2016.
Last but not the least; we have Leela Dhar Jagudi, the author of several poetry anthologies including Natak Jari Hai and Shankha Mukhi Shikharon Par. Many of his poems, published independently and as anthologies and his poems have been translated into English. His first anthology, Shankha Mukhi Shikharon Par, was published in 1964, followed by Natak Jari Hai, published in 1972. He published Is Yatra Mein in 1974 which preceded nine more anthologies, including Raat Ab Bhi Maujud Hai, Ghabaraye Hue Shabda, Bachi Hui Prithvi Par and award winning Anubhav Ke Aakash Mein Chand. He has also written two books on the topic of adult literacy and some of his interviews have been compiled as a book, Mere Sakshatkara, published by Kitab Ghar Prakashan in 2003. His works have been the subject of many studies, and two books, Samkalin Kavi Liladhar Jagudi aur Dhumil, written by Sharmila Saxena and published in 2008 and Samakalina Kavita aura Liladhar Jaguṛi, written by Brajamohan Sharma have been published on them. He is the recipient of the Sahitya Akademi Award, for his 1997 anthology, Anubhav Ke Aakash Mein Chand. The Government of India awarded him the civilian honour of the Padma Shri, in 2004, for his contributions to Hindi literature.
His career span across academia, defence forces, journalism and as a Public Relations professional has given him remarkable insights into human nature, and the world around us. Valley of Words is proud of his association as a senior patron whose advice in curating the sessions is invaluable. He is the Patron for the RS Tolia forum, and has curated the session to honour  Pitamber Dutt Barthwal, whose contributions to Hindi literature have not yet received the laurels they deserve.
Preeti Rawat Bhandari and Akshay Pandey are volunteer members of Team VoW.