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Uttarakhand's Padma Shris

[photopress:shekharpathak.jpg,thumb,alignleft]The USN would like to congratulate the winners of the 2007 Padma Shri from Uttarakhand: Dr. Shekhar Pathak of PAHAR, Dr. Lalit Pande of the Uttarakhand Seva Nidhi, K. S. Valdiya of the Wadia Institute, the late Professor Devendra Rahinwal, and Khalid Zaheer, social worker.

Professor Rahinwal recently passed away in 28 December, 2006, was awarded the Padma Shri posthumously. Despite suffering an injury in 1982 that left him orthopaedically handicapped, he dedicated his life to other disabled people.

Pathakji really needs no introduction. His lifetime of exemplary work is all around us in our appreciation of Uttarakhand’s history and cultural traditions. In August 2004, Ramachandra Guha writing in the Hindu profiled Pathak as a “man to match his mountains.” Guha wrote:

He is in his early fifties, his name is Shekhar Pathak, and he lives somewhere in the Himalaya — somewhere, but we do not know exactly where. For he is a gumakkad, a traveller and seeker who lives for and loves our beautiful hills — its people, its cultures, its rivers, its threatened landscape.

Dr. Pande is well known for his pioneering work in environmental education. He was also recently profiled by Outlook in September 18, 2006:

A quiet man, someone said. You may find it hard to make him talk. But when it matters, Lalit Pande can talk. The late afternoon light, streaming into his office in a 100-year-old Kumaoni building off Almora’s main street, falls in planes on his angular face and grey eyes, as he speaks. Afternoon turns into evening, but Pande has barely begun. After three days, listening to him, following him around in the Uttarakhand hills, stopping at a school, a balwadi, you know this is something special: a rare harmony between principles and work ethic, lifestyle and values. There aren’t many like him around. There can’t be, it’s hard.

Dr. Valdiya’s papers on the geology of the Kumaon Himalayas can be found in many publications.

I will try to find out more about Zaheerji.

Past winners of the Padma Shri from Uttarakhand include Yashodhar Mathpal of the Bhimtal Museum of Folk Culture, high-altitude plant physiologist A.N. Purohit, writer Ruskin Bond, and environmentalist Sunderlal Bahuguna. In 2005, Chandi Prasad Bhatt was awarded the Padma Bhushan.

Congratulations all!