It’s with a strange mixture of pride and humility that we unveil the fourth edition of the Deccan Herald Changemaker awards, styled this year as 22 to Watch in 2022.
Pride because of what we feel when we behold the glittering careers — some very young — of the awardees this year. And humility because their stories of determination, often against difficult odds, set in perspective the highs and lows of our everyday lives.
We’re recognising 19 individuals and three duos who have redeemed another difficult year for our state and indeed the country and the world, when Covid extracted a terrible cost.
Their stories are deeply inspiring. Read about Asha, the social worker who, starting at the age of 23, has helped bury nearly 5,000 unidentified bodies. Or Syed, whose paddy museum with 1,350 varieties contributes to conserving heirloom varieties. Or our youngest laureate yet, Rahul, a 14-year-old Carnatic music sensation.
You’ll find plenty to admire in Dayanand, who convinced villagers to use faecal sludge to generate electricity; in Rangaswamy, galvanised by personal tragedy to become a road safety crusader; and Maruti, who fights to revive traditional clam harvesting in Uttara Kannada.
The winners are diverse, but a single thread runs through their stories: A commitment to doing something truly outstanding, to excel in their chosen field and often to make a big difference in the circumstances of those around them.
It’s been our privilege to have unearthed some real gems in our state since 2019, and we’re confident this year’s winners will blaze such a trail that we will be scrambling, with some pride, to track their exploits in the years ahead.
Here are 22 Changemakers to watch out for in 2022: