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Rising India: Unveiling the remarkable stories of unsung heroes transforming communities

From Bijiyashanti Tongbram, a young entrepreneur from Manipur, to Kandoni Soren, 'Warrior of the Jungle', to Ashaita Mahajan, 'an inclusive cafe owner', and more

Published: May 31, 2023 06:08:19 PM IST
Updated: May 31, 2023 08:46:33 PM IST

Rising India: Unveiling the remarkable stories of unsung heroes transforming communitiesUnsung heroes can be found in every corner of India, and it’s time we told their stories. From Bijiyashanti Tongbram, a young entrepreneur from Manipur, to Kandoni Soren, ‘Warrior of the Jungle’, to Ashaita Mahajan, ‘an inclusive cafe owner’, and more, these heroes are quietly and determinedly transforming the country around us.
‘Nari Shakti’ slakes the thirst of her fellow villagers.

Babita Rajput led over 100 women in digging through a mountain to bring water to her village. Rising India is honouring Babita Rajput, a resident of Agrotha village in Chhatarpur district, Madhya Pradesh, who led a group of over 100 women in solving the water crisis in their village. The women collaborated with an NGO that works in the field of water conservation and dug through an entire mountain to connect their dried-up pond to a nearby canal. This allowed rainwater to flow directly into the pond. Babita became an inspiration to the women who carried out this mammoth task. Her efforts have been widely appreciated, and she continues to inspire others to work towards solving water-related issues in their communities. Babita’s leadership and determination have had a significant impact on addressing the water crisis in her village.
Warriors of the Jungle

Kandoni Soren mobilised 40 women from her village to guard their forest against illegal tree cutting. Meet Kandoni Soren, a home guard with the Jamshedpur Police, who leads a group of tribal women in Sarkaghat, Jharkhand, to protect their forest from illegal tree felling. Kandoni started the initiative, called Hariyali Sakaam, in 2011 after witnessing unprecedented tree felling in the forest. The group of tribal women, armed with sticks, bows, and arrows, ventures into the forest every day to keep an eye out for illegal tree cutters. At times, they manage to catch the culprits red-handed and shoo them away. Over the years, the group has expanded to 40 women who keep a 24-hour vigil in the forest to protect their natural resources. Kandoni’s initiative has helped curb illegal tree felling by 80–90%. Kandoni’s work has earned her the respect and support of her colleagues and fellow villagers. 
Paddy King of Punjab

A Punjab farmer’s technique reduces water usage in paddy cultivation. Surjeet Singh, a progressive farmer from Fatehpur Saheb in Punjab, has developed a ridge paddy cultivation technique that reduces water usage and increases productivity. Singh’s initiative has been widely recognised, and he has received the Krishi Karman award from PM Modi. Singh has also been teaching other farmers to sow varieties of paddy that give an increased yield and save water.

The Lotus of Manipur

Manipuri innovators use lotus stems to create fashion accessories. Bijiyashanti Tongbram, a young entrepreneur from Manipur, has gained attention for using lotus stems to make small mufflers and neckties. Her unique innovation has caught the eye of many, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Along with her fashion accessories, Tongbram also researches the medicinal properties of lotuses. Her enterprise, Sanajing Sana Thambal, has ten women, including herself, and was established after she successfully invented fragrant lotus tea. Tongbram’s efforts not only promote sustainable fashion but also showcase the untapped potential of natural resources in Manipur.
School to save a martial art

Silambam teacher Rathinam has trained over 10,000 students in a bid to save a dying martial art form. Pulithevan Silamba Training School in Chinnamanur has been providing free Silambam training to students above the age of 5 for the past 34 years. The school’s teacher, Rathinam, has trained over ten thousand students so far. Silambam is the traditional martial art of Tamil Nadu and is believed to have originated 12,500 years ago. It is considered the mother of all martial arts practised by the Cheras, Cholas, and Pandyas.
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