Bengaluru-based activist gets Neerja Bhanot award

Bengaluru-based activist gets  Neerja Bhanot award
Bengaluru-based Subhashini Vasanth has been chosen for this year’s Neerja Bhanot award for helping people in distress and for empowering widows of martyrs and their families across the country.

Subhashini lost her husband Col Vasanth V, who was posthumously awarded the Ashok Chakra in 2008 for his selfless, supreme sacrifice while fighting terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir. Since then, she has been helping the families of martyrs.

The award was constituted 24 years ago in memory of braveheart Neerja Bhanot, a flight attendant for Pan Am, who was killed while saving scores of passengers from terrorists onboard the hijacked Pan Am Flight 73 on September 5, 1986. Posthumously, she became the youngest recipient of India’s highest peacetime military award for bravery, the Ashok Chakra.

Subhashini will receive the award in Chandigarh on Wednesday from actress Sonam Kapoor, who is playing a lead role in the upcoming biopic (Neerja) based on the life and death of Neerja Bhanot.

Akhil Bhanot, the managing trustee of the Neerja Bhanot Pan Am Trust, said, “This annual award comprises Rs 1,50,000 cash prize, a citation and a trophy.” The awardee has to be “an Indian woman with substance, with guts and grit, someone who makes a success of life by assisting other woman in similar social distress”, he said.

Subhashini, who started the Vasantharatna Foundation in memory of her husband Col Vasanth, said she had been deeply involved in empowering women, educating them and their children and providing emotional, legal, and financial counselling. The foundation, she said, provided education scholarships, conducted empowerment programmes and outbound learning programmes for women and children.

Subhashini is a Bharatnatyam exponent known for her intense ‘abhinaya’ and immaculate footwork. She and Veena Prasad have co-authored the biography of Col Vasanth. The book, ‘Forever Forty,’ she says is a celebration of life and love.

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