7 Empowering Women who were Awarded the Padma Shri in 2021

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Every year on the occasion of Republic Day, Padma Awards are given out to individuals from across the country who are excelling and have been successful in their respective fields. The awards are one of the highest civilian honours of India. This year was no different. Owing to the pandemic, the celebrations were low-key. However, this did not stop deserving individuals from being bestowed with awards and laurels. 

Among the 102 people who were named for the Padma Shri, there was a list of inspiring women who are making this world a better place with their exemplary work. From Fine Art to Literature, Social Work, Sports, Trade, Public Affairs and other fields, these women are setting a fine example for the generations to come. 

In this blog, we’ve covered seven women who were awarded the Padma Shri at the 72nd Republic Day celebrations. 

Padma Shri Awards 2021: Women who are Excelling in their Respective Spheres

1. Sindhutai Sapkal 

Once a child-bride and victim of abuse is today a winner of one of the most prestigious awards, the Padma Shri. Affectionately known as ‘Mother of Orphans’ or ‘Mai’, Sindhutai is a mother to over 1400 children and a grandmother to over a thousand. She is someone who has devoted her entire life to orphaned children. Sapkal also runs an orphanage called ‘Sanmati Bal Niketan Sanstha’. For her fifty years of service, she has received more than 270 awards from national as well as international organisations. The Padma Shri is definitely another feather in her cap. Kudos to her resilience and never-say-die attitude.

2. Mouma Das

Mouma Das was among the six sportspersons who was awarded the Padma Shri in 2021. She is an Indian table-tennis player who has represented the country at various international events since the year 2000. She has also won multiple medals including a gold at the Commonwealth Games. Das was conferred with the Arjuna Award in 2013 for her contribution to sports. In December 2019, she became a mother and didn’t get to play after that because of the COVID-19 pandemic. At that point, she thought her career was over. However, after she was presented with the honourable Padma Shri award recently, she feels motivated to come back stronger and win more laurels for the country. Very inspiring, Mouma. Keep the good work going!

3. Lakhimi Baruah

Today, financial security is extremely important for women. Who would know better than someone who lost her parents at a tender age? This is the story of Lakhimi Baruah. She was named as one of the recipients of this year’s Padma Shri awards for her social work. With her constant efforts, she has been able to financially empower hundreds of Assamese women. Baruah started the Konoklota Mahila Urban Cooperative Bank in 1998 in Jorhat, Assam. It is an all-women bank that has provided credit to thousands of women and ushered in a positive change. This is a great move to make women from impoverished conditions more self-reliant. It not just encourages them to save their earnings easily but also provides an outlet to secure loans whenever they’re in need of one.

4. Shanti Devi

At the age of eighty-seven, Shanti Devi of Odisha received the Padma Shri award. She is the founder of a voluntary organisation called Seva Samaj. The body aims at rehabilitating destitute and orphan children and providing them with education and vocational training. Shanti Devi is also a founder of an ashram for leprosy patients. Throughout her life, she had just one aim – to make all girls self-sufficient so that they can live their lives with utmost dignity and respect. Owing to her outstanding contribution to the development and welfare of women and children, she has received plenty of awards from reputed state and national organisations. 

5. Purnamasi Jani

Purnamasi Jani is an artist from Odisha who has been bestowed the Padma Shri Award in 2021. She is someone who has never received formal education nor does she know how to read and write. Yet, she has been gifted with a talent. She is recognised for her devotional songs and poems which she sings in Kui dialect as well as Odia and Sanskrit. In the last 40 years, she has written and sung thousands of folk songs. She is also known to tackle social issues and superstitions. Locals worship her, see her as a healer and consider her songs as a balm to the soul. Kudos to this eighty-five-year-old woman to keep art forms and local dialects alive even today. 

6. Nidhmolu Sumati

At the 72nd Republic Day celebrations, Nidhmolu Sumati from Andhra Pradesh was presented with the Padma Shri award. She is the first woman in the country to make a mark in the male-dominated field of professional mridangam players. She won the award under the Fine Arts category. Her talent is something she inherited from her father, Nidhumolu Raghavayya. Once Sumati learned how to play the percussion instrument, she practiced it for hours to master the art. She later went on to set up a sabha named Laya Vedika, a platform exclusively for percussive instrumentalists. 

7. Jaswantiben Jamnadas Popat

Lijjat Papad is a household name in most Indian households. The woman behind all this magic is Jaswantiben Jamnadas Popat, a nighty-one-year-old woman who defies her age. From a Rs. 80 loan to an 800-crore business empire, the story of her company is truly inspirational. Recently, she was awarded the Padma Shri for her work in the field of trade and industry. Her business employs 42,000 women. What she started as a desperate move to supplement family income is today a name across the world. Her tale is awe-inspiring especially for the youth of our country. Amazing, isn’t it?

Don’t you feel inspired after reading this blog? To all the young girls out there, it’s never too late to pursue your dreams and make it big. Who knows, a few years later, you might make it to this list?


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