National Bravery Award 2017: It was 6 April, 2017. In Kendrapara district of Odisha, unsuspecting six-year-old Mamata Dalai was taking a bath along with Asanti Dalai (7) in a pond when a 5-feet crocodile suddenly emerged and attacked Asanti. The mere sight of the crocodile could have scared even an adult, but not Mamata. Instead of running away, Mamata fought hard to free Asanti from the clutches of the crocodile.
Mamata has shown there is no age of valour and rightfully selected for the National Bravery Award 2017. Explaining her deed, Indian Council for Child Welfare says, “Mamata reached out and held Asanti’s left hand and tried to pull her hand away from the crocodile’s jaws. Mamata fought hard to save Asanti. As a result of her strong defence, physical exertion and loud screams, the crocodile lost its grip on Asanti and slipped into water. Mamata then managed to drag Asanti to safety.”
The crocodile had injured Asanti. Later, forest officials of Bhitarkanika National Park managed to catch the crocodile that had strayed and released it in the river.
Mamata is now among the 18 children, including seven girls, selected for the National Bravery Awards 2017. Three of the bravehearts will be awarded posthumously at an event in Delhi on January 24. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will award these future leaders. The braveheart children will also participate in the Republic Day Parade 2018 at the Rajpath, where they would be one of the main attractions of the event.
The awardees were selected by a high-powered committee comprising representatives of various Ministries/Departments, Non-Governmental Organisations as well as office bearers of Indian Council for Child Welfare (ICCW). President of India Ram Nath Kovind and several other dignitaries will host receptions in the honour of these children. Several state governments will also organise functions to honour the children in their respective states.
What is National Bravery Award
According to PIB, the National Bravery Award Scheme was started by the Indian Council for Child Welfare “to give due recognition to the children who distinguish themselves by performing outstanding deeds of bravery and meritorious service and to inspire other children to emulate their example.”
For the first time in 1957, two children – a boy and a girl – were rewarded for their presence of mind and courage. Since then ICCW has been conferring national awards on children every year. In 1987-88 ICCW had instituted the Bharat Award for an exceptionally outstanding, meritorious and gallant deed. The other special awards include the Geeta Chopra and Sanjay Chopra awards (instituted by ICCW in 1978) and the Bapu Gaidhani Awards (instituted in 1988-89).
What the awardees get
The awardees will receive a medal, certificate and cash. Moreover, the awardees will get granted financial assistance until they complete their schooling. In some states, governments also provide financial assistance to the bravehearts.
Further, the ICCW provides financial assistance under its Indira Gandhi Scholarship Scheme to those undertaking professional courses such as engineering and medicine. For the others, this assistance is provided till they complete their graduation. The Government of India has also reserved some seats for awardees in medical and engineering colleges and polytechnics.