Sundeep Bhutoria

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ess bee

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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Prabha Khaitan Award

The Calcutta Chamber of Commerce (CCC) today organised a function at the Horticulture Garden to confer the Prabha Khaitan Award 2008 to Shanu Lahiri
The Governor of West Bengal M K Narayanan (picture) graced the occasion and also handed over the cash award of Rs 1 lakh to her (picture: West Bengal Governor handing over Award to Shanu Lahiri in the presence of CCC President Sushil Kumar Agarwal).
The Prabha Khaitan Award was constituted in 1992 when my mother Dr Prabha Khaitan became the president of the Chamber. Some of the recipients of the Award are eminent Indian women like Shabana Azmi, Medha Patkar, Kapila Vatsyayan, Vandana Shiva and others.
I remember the Award, which was an annual affair, gradually became once-in-two-year and then once every three years due to some reason or the other given by CCC. Though the MoU between Prabha Khaitan Foundation (formerly Prabha Khaitan Sanskitak Sansthan) and the Calcutta Chamber of Commerce clearly states that if the Award is not conferred for four consecutive years, the award money will go to the Vishwa Bharti.
The Chamber has given the reason that endowment alone is not enough for giving the Awards annually but I have always said that money is never an issue for any good work to happen in our society. I personally feel that the Chamber has lost some of its interest in the Award after my mother left interest in the Chamber because she felt that the Chamber was male dominated and being a woman president she had to listen to the male trustees of the Foundation who actually ran the Chamber’s affairs from behind the curtains.
In the past few years some of the Presidents like Manoj Mohanka and Harsh Patodia were very keen and put in their full efforts to organise the Award function. I must thank the current President Mr Agarwal, who was in touch with my office for the past one year for the Award function.
Sometimes I feel that the male ego is hurt simply because the Award was instituted by a woman of independent thinking. I also said in my speech today that it is my utmost desire that this Award must be given every year and my Foundation is willing to extend any support that Chamber may require. Though this award function was held almost after five years and it seems that cold relations between CCC and myself would come to an end. I really did some hard correspondence and because of my letter a judges' meeting had to be cancelled. 
I hope to see the Award gets back to the way it used to be held and in the spirit that the Governor so rightly mentioned in his speech yesterday when he said that “….giving an award to women in the name of a woman is a true way to keep her memory alive.” (picture: Governor M K Narayanan and Alka Bangur)
ess bee

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