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Padma Shri Parbati Barua receives USTM Social Work Excellence Award-2024

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Guwahati, Mar 19: Like every year, this year too, the Department of Social Work at the University of Science and Technology Meghalaya (USTM) celebrated World Social Work Day by awarding a noted social worker and organizing a talk, a play, and cultural presentations. This year’s Social Work Excellence Award was presented to the renowned animal activist, politician and India’s first female mahout Padma Shri  recipient Parbati Baruah.

The award was handed over by Bhaskar Jyoti Mahanta, IPS(Retd), State Chief Information Commissioner, Assam in the presence of Prof GD Sharma, Vice Chancellor USTM, Dr Pradeep Ramavath, Associate Professor, Tata Institute of Social Sciences Guwahati among others, according to a USTM Press communique.

Receiving the award, Parbati Baruah said, “I am delighted to receive this recognition from USTM, and my gratitude to everyone for this respect”. She said that culture is a very important aspect of life. “To learn culture, we are not required to be literate. The forest is a constant attraction for me. I learned languages wherever I went to work because language brings us close to each other and makes my task easier”, she added. Smt Barua was introduced to the world by British writer Mark Shand. In 1995, he met her at an elephant camp in North Bengal and wrote a book on her terming her as “Queen of the Elephants”. He also took mahout training from her dedicatedly for three months.

Parbati Baruah, who is also known as Hasti Kanya, is India’s first female elephant mahout who started taming the wild tuskers at the age of 14 and received Padma Shri in the field of Social Work (Animal Welfare) in 2024. Baruah has gained valuable expertise as an elephant mahout and has dedicated herself to mitigating human-elephant conflict.

Bhaskar Jyoti Mahanta, IPS(Retd), State Chief Information Commissioner addressed the gathering as the Chief Guest. He said that the Social Work discipline instills a sense of service to society, a sense of value system in today’s competitive world which is marked by the consumerist hunger to get everything quickly. One should not forget the Indian value system of respecting elders by the young generation, he added.

The keynote address was delivered by Dr Pradeep Ramavath, Associate Professor at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences Guwahati on the theme “Buen Vivir: Shared Future for Transformative Change”. He said that Buen Vivir talks about harmony between human beings, and also between human beings and nature, the idea of civilization being very close to nature. Earlier, the welcome address was made by Prof GD Sharma, VC, USTM

The event was an enriching experience, as the students of the Social Work department of USTM enacted a skit titled “Threads of Change” enthralling the audience. The Wall Magazine of the department was also inaugurated during the event, adding another dimension to the celebration. The event ended with a beautiful cultural evening showcasing the talents of the students of the Social Work department.

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