The Devi Awards in Kolkata was a gala event attended by the creme de la creme of the society
Here's what happened and what the Devis had to say
On July 29, ITC Sonar dazzled with one of the most anticipated events of the year -- Devi Awards 2022. The evening saw the city’s glitterati coming together to celebrate the contributions of 15 dynamic women to their respective professions. After a pandemic-induced hiatus of two years, Devi Awards 2022 unfolded in all its glory as former Union Cabinet minister Dr Subramanian Swamy graced the occasion as the chief guest.
The curtains were raised for the evening with senior journalist and author Kaveree Bamzai moderating the event in presence of a packed audience. She ushered in Neha Periwal, director of The New Indian Express group after a brief speech on the history of the publication house and Devi Awards.
“Ancient Indian texts state that where there is respect for women, there will be the presence of the divine. We have seen women being celebrated as the most powerful incarnations of Shakti in the form of Devis. We at The New Indian Express believe that strong, independent women are the backbone of the nation and by hosting the Devi Awards, it is our attempt to act on this belief,” shares Neha to set the tone for the award ceremony.
The ceremonial speeches were followed by a panel discussion between Kaveree Bamzai and Dr Shashi Panja, minister of Women & Child Development and Social Welfare, Government of West Bengal. “Politics made me learn the length and breadth of social welfare, where I could use my knowledge of medicine alongside a lot more to reach out to people in need,” shares Dr Panja. She also spoke about the importance of schemes like Kanyashree introduced by the West Bengal government.
“Issues such as human trafficking and cyber-crimes against are still prevalent, and the message we want to send across through our schemes dedicated for women at every stage of their lives, is all about empowerment,” adds Shashi.
The Chief Guest of the evening Dr Subhramanian Swamy was called up on stage next by Prabhu Chawla, Editorial Director of The New Indian Express and The Sunday Standard and Dr Swamy shared his perception of a Devi and why it is important to recognise women from all walks of life.
“We have emerged as a country that acknowledges the co-existence of multiple religions. In this context, we have also taken numerous steps to recognise women and their contributions over the years, to bring their work out to the public eye. We have regarded women equal to men in every aspect except physical strength, and over the past 50-60 years women have held and are still holding positions of power with elan as compared to many first world countries,” Dr Swamy stated to highlight the progress India has made to provide equal opportunities to women.
“Our theology portrays Saraswati as the goddess of education, Lakshmi as the goddess of finance, and Durga as the goddess of defence. One of the fiercest fighters, Kali is a part of our cultural fabric, and this embodiment of women cannot be seen in any other part of the world. Our epics too revolve around the stories of Draupadi and Sita. However, there are certain fields where women are disadvantaged till date such as the economic sphere, and social crimes happening against them. We can only progress as a society when women can truly claim themselves to be independent in all spheres, even self-defence. We need to keep working to emerge from this darkness as well, and today’s Devi Awards is an example of one such step,” adds Dr Subramanian.
The introductory speeches came to a wrap with a ceremonial lighting of the lamp observed in presence of Dr Swamy, Prabhu Chawla, Dr Shashi Panja, Manoj Kumar Sonthalia- Chairman of The New Indian Express Group and Lakshmi Menon, CEO of TNIE. Joita Sen, Director of Senco Gold and Diamonds along with Dr Swamy gave away the award to iconic cricketer Jhulan Goswami.
The platinum partner for Devi Awards 2022 was RP-Sanjiv Goenka Group. The associate partners were Senco Gold and Diamonds, National Jute Board, Softline from Rupa, Pentonic from Linc Ltd., Placid Ltd. and LIC. The outdoor partner was SelvelOne.
Here’s what the awardees had to say:
Jhulan Goswami, cricketer
I think this kind of award will personally motivate me to perform well. At the same time, it will motivate and encourage women to do what they want.
Dr Sushmita Roychowdhury, pulmonologist
It feels really good that the work that was done has been recognised and this is on behalf of everyone who has worked with me. I think Devi Awards is a good platform to show that women work equally as hard as men.
Tapati Guha-Thakurta, historian
I have come out of sick bed to receive this award. So, I am very happy to receive it. It’s also interesting to know women from different fields who are doing very interesting work. Many of them are much younger than me and from different generations. Getting this award is meaningful because it’s a part of the recognition that the festival is getting on different platforms.
Priyadarshini Hakim, social activist and entrepreneur
I am honoured and humbled by getting this award. My first identity is that of a mother. I believe being a mother is closest to godliness. I take care of my home, I have a business and I am a communication professional. What keeps me motivated are the social causes. I have been associated with a lot of social causes for the past 4-5 years including the area of menstrual health. My endeavour is not just to spread awareness about menstrual hygiene and health but to remove that stigma.
Vandana Alase Hazra, dancer
I feel like a child who has received a pat on her back. It's humbling and it makes sense for all the trouble that you have taken to reach wherever you are.
Alka Bangur, industrialist and philanthropist
I thank Indulge for honouring me with such a respectful award. I think my duties towards society have increased now as they must be expecting more from me. So, I pray to the Almighty to help me become successful in my life and my motto.
Sanghamitra Bandyopadhyay, scientist
Any award comes with a feeling of happiness, satisfaction and pleasure, it's an acknowledgement of the hard work which the awardee has put in. So, it’s always a pleasure to be recognised.
My message for all the women out there is -- Decide what you want to do with your life. For every gender, there’s a battle, for women the battle is more, so it’s important for her to choose her battles wisely.
Sanaya Mehta Vyas, entrepreneur
I am super thrilled especially because I have my mother and daughter with me here today. One is my inspiration while the other is my motivation. So I am very happy to receive this award in their presence.
Swastika Mukherjee, actor
I have won a lot of accolades but they were mostly for my work. Devi Award is about being a woman and what you have achieved and how many battles you have fought and how incredible a person you are -- it’s just not about one single part of your life; it’s a lot of attributes. That makes it overtly special.
Nandita Roy, filmmaker
I am really elated. Devi is special since it recognizes women for their real acumen. I usually share awards with my work partner, director-actor Shiboprosad Mukherjee and since this is a solo award, it makes it more special.
Seema Sapru, principal, The Heritage School
It's a big award and I am overwhelmed with happiness. When I attended the event last time, I saw the awardees on stage and I asked myself when am I getting that award? I didn't know I would be getting the award in the second edition of Devi Awards in Kolkata.
Richa Agarwal, Chairperson of KCC and CEO of Emami Art
I would first take this opportunity to thank the entire team for honouring this award to me. I am overwhelmed after hearing the other Devis and knowing them. It's a lot of responsibility and there are such important people who are getting the award.
Art is transient and has no borders and art is the way you lead your life - the way you dress, eat and carry yourself. For me, all of it is an art. It never ceases to intrigue me.
Thank you Indulge and The New Indian Express Group for deeming the impact of my projects worthy of this prestigious recognition. It will motivate my team and I to make our community and country a greener one that uplifts women.
Paromita Banerjee, fashion designer
Any kind of award is such a huge validation which goes to show that it's been a wonderful effort of the team; it’s gratifying to be acknowledged.
Debarati Mukhopadhyay, author
I am feeling extremely honoured and privileged that Indulge has considered me for the esteemed award. Also, I am feeling special that it’s happening in my hometown that has produced innumerable achievers in the past few centuries.