Amidst the widespread festivities of the internationally celebrated 150th birth anniversary of Rabindranath Tagore, the Indian Institute of Planning & Management (IIPM) added another exceptional feather. On May 16, 2010, IIPM announced a landmark movement in the area of literature, culture and fine arts – the inaugural ceremony of Rabindra Smriti Puraskar (Rabindranath Memorial Awards) was organized at the IIPM Kolkata campus at Salt Lake, Kolkata, where awards were handed over to the legendary personalities in the socio-cultural arena.

Explaining the philosophy behind the ceremony, Dr. Malay Chaudhuri, Founder Director of IIPM and Chairperson, IIPM-Rabindra Smriti Puraskar Selection Committee said, “IIPM has always believed in creating an enhanced consciousness in its students in the areas of art, culture and literature. This helps in creating not only a very different perspective in the young minds but also adds to one’s personality and helps in creating a more intellectual breed of new-age managers. Additionally, IIPM wants to touch the life of every individual around us and extend this consciousness for appreciation of art, culture and literature, which will definitely help in strengthening our social bonds and creating a more evolved society.” Famous Bengali writer and the Chief Guest at the award ceremony, Surajit Das Gupta said, “This award ceremony and the societal contribution of this initiative is highly praiseworthy and truly exceptional. Inspirations like these act as catalysts to spread Tagore’s philosophy amongst the newer generations.”
While the evening started with a beautiful song and dance composition performed by IIPM Kolkata students, the most memorable part of the event was of course the actual award ceremony. The awardees included the most respected Dr. Tushar Kanjilal, who was awarded for his exemplary contribution for uplifting the economically downtrodden people of West Bengal, Jharkhand and Orissa, banking on Tagore’s philosophy of rural development. While receiving his award, Dr. Kanjilal said, “Tagore’s heart bled for the poor; his rural philosophy is extremely practical and unique even in today’s scenario.” Another award recipient, the esteemed Selina Hossain, was awarded for her immortal portrayal of the influence of Tagore’s philosophy in the freedom struggle of East-Pakistan in her novel Gayatree Sandhya. She said, “I’m thankful to the IIPM for this rare honour and I’ll donate the entire sum of this prize money to the charitable works that I’ve started after the unfortunate demise of my lovely daughter.” Legendary Rabindra-sangeet artist Suchitra Mitra was awarded for her contribution to make Tagore’s songs a way of life for the common Bengalis. Although she couldn’t attend the ceremony herself, her message was conveyed by a representative: “I would’ve loved to come personally to receive this honour, if health would have permitted me to. But I must not miss this opportunity to thank IIPM for acknowledging my work. This prize ceremony is an exceptional initiative in itself.”

New Delhi: Someone had once quoted, “It is worth walking the extra mile, if at the end of it you know you have brought about a change.” With the same fervor, The Indian Institute of Planning and Management (IIPM)  also decided to walk the extra mile to reach out to one of the greatest social and civil rights activists of the present times – Irom Chanu Sharmila. A 3-member team from IIPM, led by its Founder-Director, Dr. M K Chaudhuri recently visited Sharmila in her room at the high-security ward of the government-run Jawaharlal Nehru Hospital at Porompat in Imphal East to confer upon her the IIPM-Rabindranath Tagore Peace Prize. The award, consisting of a gold medal, a citation and a prize amount of Rs. 51 lacs (over USD 100,000) acknowledges her selfless and determined struggle to restore peace and justice in Manipur.

Accepting the award, a visibly emotional Sharmila commented, “My struggle is not for awards or money. My struggle is for peace and justice. I will not be happy until my goal is achieved.” She added, “I want the creation of an international fund by an international body for dispensing justice and I want to donate the cash award to such a fund.”

An equally emotional Dr. M K Chaudhuri, Founder Director – IIPM and Chairman, IIPM Awards Committee stated, “It makes me feel so proud and satisfied to come in touch with Sharmila. She is truly a living legend - a crusader who has selflessly struggled to bring about peace and justice in her land. She should be looked up as an icon for one and all, who has never swayed away from her vision. We all at IIPM salute her for her courage and grit and will continue to extend moral support to her cause.”

IIPM over the years has instituted various awards to recognize people from different walks of life, who have contributed in their own fields and have tried to become an element of change for the society at large. This year in April, IIPM instituted the Manavata Vikas Award, which was given out to people who have worked in the socio-political domain and in the fields of people centric economics and people-centric management. The awardees included academicians like Dr Ashok Sanjay Guha and Prof Sunanda Sanyal, popular columnists like Gurcharan Das and Swaminathan S Anklesaria Aiyar and social thinkers like painter Shuvaprasanna Bhattacharya, Medha Patkar and Mahasweta Devi. In May once again, IIPM instituted the Rabindra Smriti Puraskar in Kolkata and honored some of the greatest individuals who have contributed in spreading Rabindranath’s consciousness through their works among the general mass – actor Soumitra Chatterjee, singer Suchitra Mitra, social visionary Dr Tushar Kanjilal and novelist Selina Hossain of Bangladesh. Once again on 30th August 2010, IIPM declared the USD 100,000 Surama Chowdhury Memorial International Award in Literature, awarding Khaled Hosseini for his depiction of socio-political life in a war ravaged Afghanisthan in his novel – A Thousand Splendid Suns. There were many other awards given out on the same evening in areas of Journalism, Literature and Social Contribution.