Untold stories of courage

Inspiring tales

Ladakh-based Chewang Noprhel, popularly known as the ‘Ice Man’, has spent more than two decades in creating artificial glaciers in ‘the land of high passes’ to help people deal with water scarcity.

A simple, cost-effective and potential means of water harvesting in higher altitudes, Norphel’s artificial glaciers have been helping farmers grow crops and recharge ground water.

“Nearly 40-50 years ago, there used to be a lot of snow in Ladakh because of which a lot of glaciers were created. But today because of global warming, all our glaciers have receded and farmers face a lot of problems due to water scarcity,” Norphel, who was recently awarded at the second edition of Rashtriya Sawayamsiddh Samman, tells Metrolife.

Because of his efforts, farmers have been able to grow crops like wheat, barley, potatoes and peas, which have helped in increasing their revenue up to five times.
However, “the lack of sufficient funding” and the creation of proper diversion channels for the artificial glaciers have been the biggest challenge for Norphel.

Along with him, Delhi-based Sarthak Educational Trust was also among the nine individuals and 10 organisations who were awarded at the annual event organised by Jindal Steel and Power Limited.

Established in 2008, the trust works for the betterment of lives of People with Disabilities (PWDs) by providing them with education and job opportunities. So far, they have managed more than 300 placements and have supported more than 20 organisations in identifying jobs for PWDs.

Dr Jitendra Aggarwal, who was a former dentist, lost most of his vision at the age of 32, and feels “lucky” that the same happened to him.

“Initially, it was a challenge for me to provide jobs to PWDs. But knowing that there are so many struggling PWDs and there are no jobs for them, we wanted to empower them by giving them employment,” says Aggarwal, CEO and founder of Sarthak.

According to him, education and employment are the most important tools to empower people with disabilities. For the same, he and his team undertake training programs, in-house placement openings and job fairs for PWDs. Creating awareness to hire PWDs, their mobilisation and counselling their parents, are some of the most difficult aspects that they struggle with.

Similarly, Indian Society of Agribusiness Professionals (ISAP), another Delhi-based venture was awarded for helping farmers in diagnosing problems of pests or disease infestation in the fields.

Attempting to reach farmers at the cluster level, the organisation aims at bridging the gap that exists between them and the market.

“While today, some farmers are equipped with sufficient information and knowledge, marginal farmers lack in purchasing power, information and the proper reach to the market,” says Naveen Kumar Jha, senior manager, ISAP.

They developed an applet ‘Decision Support System’ which works as an electronic companion of farmers, for the trainers, who are “local research persons” from the villages. The trainers carry tablets with installed applet which diagnoses pest problems and disease infestations in the field. Alongside, they also provide on-the-spot solutions to the farmers.

Like Norphel, Aggarwal and Jha, numerous other achievers were rewarded for their contributions to the society at the event, which was an attempt to give recognition to the people at the grass-root level.

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