| How many of us respond positively to our neighbours'
SOS? No doubt. Very few. Whatever the reasons may be,
people become materialistic and selfish. Most of us don't
bother about the fellow beings' troubles. But still, there
are some people who selflessly fight for the cause of
the society, even at the cost of their lives. Godfrey
Philips India Ltd. instituted the Red & White awards
in 1990, to honour brave common people who emerge victorious
in the face of odds and give help to others, selflessly.
such real life heroes were honoured by Director General
of Police H.J. Dora, with the Red & White
Bravery Awards. The awards were given under two categories
- "Physical Bravery" and "Social Acts of
Courage". The criteria for the awards include "personal
risk, situational intensity, selflessness, foresight and
perseverance." Among the five who got the rare honour
were, Mr. Rajgopal, Mr. Chittibabu of the twin
cities and Mr. DPR Prabhu, Dr. Ramesh and Ms.
Vijaya Lakshmi belong to Prakasam, Chittoor
and East Godavari districts respectively. According
to the citations read at the award presentation function,
their acts of courage are exemplary and inspiring.
Take the case of Rajgopal, who risked his life to prevent
a robbery attempt at his neighbour's house. Despite being
stabbed twice and hit with a rod, he managed to save his
friend's family and property. Today, he is honoured with
a gold medal for his physical bravery. When asked why
he put his life at risk, he says, with a smile: "At
that moment, I just wanted to stop the thieves at any
cost. So, whatever came to my mind, I did it. The happiness
one gets out helping others cannot be measured."
The 68-year-old ex-army officer has a different story
to tell. Mr. D.V.R. Prabhu, former deputy group commander
of Calcutta Home Guards, was given the special physical
bravery award. During the conflict with Pakistan in 1971,
Prabhu had saved the Howrah Bridge. On December
8, 1971, he caught a captain of America's seventh fleet
taking photographs of the bridge putting his life at risk.
Vijaya Lakshmi is an advocate by vocation and social activist
working at the grass root level for the upliftment and
empowerment of women below the poverty line through employment.
She runs about six mahila mandals and 100 self-help groups
in the East Godavari district (Rajahmundry and surrounding
villages). Through Sri Kandukuri Veereshlingam Educational
and Welfare Society, she extends vocational training
to women in 46 trades including pottery making, ready-made
garments, wool knitting, soft toys and gem cutting. "Our
motto is generating employment using low-cost machinery.
We also bring about awareness among women about health,
environment, education, family planning, social evils
and AIDS," says Lakshmi, the gold-medal winner
in Social Acts of Bravery Category.
Dr. Ramesh Babu is a pioneer, working on the prevention
of AIDS/HIV and removing misconceptions on blood donation.
To practice what he propagates, he donated blood 74 times
in 14 years. Understanding that circumstances and litigations
play an important role in his patients' life, the silver-medal
winner acquired a law degree. He now advises his patients
(diagnosed HIV positive) legally too on issues like employment,
marital / divorce, discrimination, legal-medical insurances
and human rights.
Chittibaburao, an APSRTC conductor, was given the bronze
medal for social acts of courage. He was terminated from
service in 1985 for taking money without issuing a ticket
to a woman passenger. However, since he had no bad intentions
and was an inadvertent act he was reinstated in 1991.
Chittibaburao said that during the six years when he was
out of service, he struggled to make both ends meet and
this inspired him to contribute a day's salary every month
towards governments Rs. 2 rice scheme earlier and contribute
a day's salary every month towards the Andhra Pradesh
State Legal Services Authority of High Court now.
The 10th Red & White Bravery Awards list was finalised
by eminent panel comprising Mr. P.M. Bhargava,
former director of CCMB; S.S. Khosla, chief commissoner
of customs and excise and Blue Cross President, Mrs.
Amala Akkineni. Godfrey & Philips has been presenting
the Red & White bravery in Delhi, Gujarat, Maharastra,
Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana and
Punjab. In its endeavour to extend the awards nationwide
Godfrey included Andhra Pradesh into the list for the
first time and the awards were presented on July 18, 2001.