Indian Metals & Ferro Alloys Limited (IMFA) recently organised the Sarala and Ekalabya Awards to celebrate the success stories of achievers in the fields of literature and sports respectively
Like every year, this time too Indian Metals & Ferro Alloys Limited (IMFA) came up with the prestigious Sarala and Ekalabya Awards to felicitate achievers from various fields. While Sarala Puraskar, which has been instituted since 1980, is recognised as the foremost literary award of Odisha, Ekalabya Puraskar, started in 1993, makes an attempt to encourage sports-persons who have made the state proud in national and international arena.
Both the awards are presented by Indian Metals Public Charitable Trust (IMPaCT), the charitable wing of IMFA Group which is the leading and the only fully integrated producer of ferro alloys in India.
One of the finest contributions of IMPaCT to glorify Odia literature, the Sarala Puraskar, into its 37th edition, was this year conferred on poet Dr. Hrushikesh Mallick for his work, ‘Jeje Dekhi Nathiba Bharata’. The first poetry to get this honour, Dr. Mallick’s poem is, in fact, a rare piece that creates magic with its words.
The Sarala award, which was started for the first time in 1980, has been felicitating Odia writers and poets for their outstanding contribution to Odia literature. The award includes a cash prize of Rs. 5 lakh and a citation.
Since 2015, two more awards have been added to this ceremony to felicitate musicians and artists of Odisha. ‘Ila Panda Sangeet Samman’ and ‘Ila Panda Chitrakala Samman’, each carry a cash award of Rs. 1.5 lakh and a citation. This year, while the Ila Panda Sangeet Samman was conferred on eminent musician, Guru Dr. Gopalchandra Panda, the Ila Panda Chitrakala Samman was given to renowned artist, late Dr. Dinanath Pathy.
Vice-President of Kendra Sahitya Akademi, Dr. Chandrasekhar Kambar was the Chief Guest for the festival, which witnessed a huge gathering comprising eminent personalities from the field of literature from all across Odisha.
The only award in Odisha that is conferred on young Odia sports-persons in recognition of their outstanding achievement in the field of sports, Ekalabya Award has been doing its bit to motivate sportspersons to excel in their fields in both national and international levels since last 24 years.
The prestigious award, which has drawn parallels with many national awards, has been conferred on many renowned personalities of the state including shooter Sriyanka Sarangi, chess player Debashis Das, cricketers Shiv Sundar Das and Debashish Mohanty, international hockey players like Dillip Tirkey, Prabodh Tirkey, Ignace Tirkey and William Xalxo, women chess player Padmini Rout and Kiran Manisha Mohanty, weight lifter K Ravi Kumar and athletes Anuradha Biswal and Dutee Chand.
This year, the Ekalabya Award, into its 24th edition, was conferred on Odisha’s ace athlete and Olympian, Srabani Nanda. The award was given away by India’s legendary athlete and the ‘Flying Sikh’ Milkha Singh. The award carried a cash reward of Rs. 5 lakh and a citation. Two other emerging sportspersons, Deep Grace Ekka and Dipsan Tirkey, both international hockey players from Odisha, were felicitated with citations and cash rewards of Rs. 50,000 each for their brilliant performances in national as well as international games.
Announcing the names of the award winners, Baijayant Panda, MP and Trustee of IMPaCT said, “IMPaCT has been in continuous pursuit to recognise and foster excellence in sports and literature besides contributing to the general welfare of the society at large. It has been a morale booster for the best sporting talents in the state.”
A huge and enthusiastic crowd comprising mostly sportspersons, bureaucrats and public from different sections of the society attended the function and were amused to see a number of sportspersons in an altogether different role, dancing to the tune of the popular Hindi song ‘Chak De India’ on stage.
Later, Milkha Singh while addressing the gathering, spoke about his relationship with Odisha, which he mentioned as ‘very old’. He also said he was happy to be in the state after 58 years. He recalled how he had made his first Asian record in Barabati Stadium, Cuttack. He also expressed his last wish to be able to see some athlete win a medal in Athletics at the next Olympic. Among others, P.K. Das, IAS, Principal Secretary of Water Resources, Electronics & IT Department attended.