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‘Society must learn to respect women’ | India News

Padma Shri Award

Shanti Devi

(87) has been working for the betterment of tribal girls and destitute women since 1951. The Gandhian shares her journey with

Arunika mohapatra

How does it feel to get a Padma Shri?

This award from the Center is an honor to the ideals of Mahatma Gandhi and Acharya Vinoba Bhave.

What do you teach the girls?

Girls must be empowered, braver and taught to speak out against injustice. They must be independent and educate their families as well.

What prompted you to take on this role?

In 1951, girls were not ambitious enough to become professionals. They used to follow the family line. I got married at the age of 17 just after two years of college. My husband had established a precondition for marriage: that he would have to work for the people of Koraput after we were married. I agreed. Four months after our marriage, I came to Koraput with him.

Tell us more about your work

I started an ashram in Sankhalpadar in the then undivided Koraput district for tribal children and also cared for leprosy patients there. I met Acharya Vinoba Bhave in 1955-56 and was attracted by his ideology and started working for the uplift of tribes, destitute women and orphan girls. I started Seva Samaj in Rayagada on September 11, 1964.
We have a school in the village of Jabarguda in Rayagada where 100 girls from classes I to V study. We also run a shelter in the village of Limaguda where tribal girls stay, who have left the school in Jabarguda or who are still there. studying. The organization runs three orphanages in Gunupur, Rayagada and Jabarguda.

What is your vision

for the future?

My main job is to empower girls and teach them to be independent. People should also be more tolerant following the philosophies of Mahatma Gandhi and Acharya Vinoba Bhave. Society must learn to respect women.

How would you like to be remembered

People don’t need to remember me. The work I have started should continue.

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