Hope is a powerful force that drives us forward, and recognizing, celebrating that hope is a celebration of life itself. Ananda Vikatan’s ‘Nambikkai Awards’ is an initiative that aims to recognize and honor the tireless social contributions of individuals and organizations working towards the betterment of society. These awards celebrate those who serve as trailblazers, paving the way for others to follow.
Each year, 10 individuals are chosen for the ‘Nambikkai Ilaignarkal’ (Youth Icon for Hope) award, and another 10 are selected to receive the ‘Nambikkai Manithargal’ through a thorough screening process. Vikatan group reporters from various towns in Tamilnadu provide their inputs regarding the potential awardees, while a comprehensive review of the previous year’s newspapers is conducted to identify the deserving candidates. A jury then meets regularly to finalize the longlist and shortlist before announcing the final list of awardees to the public. These individuals represent the best of the best and are recognized with the iconic Vikatan Statue.
In addition to the Nambikkai Awards, the prestigious `Perunthamizhar’ award is given annually to celebrate the lifetime contributions of a significant Tamil icon. This award includes a cash prize of One lakh rupees, honoring the recipient’s immense contributions.
This year, Nambikkai Awards ceremony was a double celebration, honoring 20 awardees from 2021 and 20 awardees from 2022. The previous year’s event was canceled due to the pandemic, but the Vikatan team worked tirelessly to make this year’s extravaganza a resounding success. As the auditorium lights flickered on, excitement and joy filled the air. Rajmohan and Anitha Sampath anchored the function with their characteristic charm, and the ebb and flow of emotions created a truly unforgettable atmosphere.
The first awardee of the night was educational activist Pechimuthu, who received his Nambikkai Award from Ilam Bhagavath IAS. Pechimuthu has been providing free IAS coaching sessions for over seven years through his Kins Academy, inspiring and guiding countless young public service aspirants. His story was hugely inspirational to the audience, and Bhagavath IAS was so moved by his service that he spent the rest of the day in conversation with Pechimuthu about his life journey.
Another heartwarming story was that of Sivakumar, who received his award from Director A. Vinoth. After the devastating Gaja Cyclone ravaged his district, Sivakumar went around town, informing his previous customers that he was waiving all unpaid balances from their visits. His generosity and compassion touched the hearts of many, and his story reminded us all of the power of giving.
Member of Parliament Kanimozhi presented the Nambikkai award to K.R. Raja, whose dedication to providing education to the children of imprisoned parents has changed the lives of over 400 children. In his acceptance speech, Raja expressed his gratitude and emphasized the importance of education in empowering individuals and communities.
Nandini Murali’s unwavering commitment to suicide prevention was recognized as she received the Nambikkai award from MLA Vanathi Srinivasan. Her acceptance speech was a deeply moving account of her own struggles with suicidal thoughts and a heartfelt plea for greater understanding and compassion towards those who suffer from mental health issues. She dedicated the award to her late husband, a poignant reminder of the importance of reaching out and supporting those in need.
Professor Prabha Kalvimani’s tireless efforts towards social justice and the empowerment of tribal communities earned him the Nambikkai award from Pazha Nedumaran. In a humble and heartfelt speech, he acknowledged the support of his team and the community and urged everyone to work towards creating a more just and equitable society. As the Irula tribe members presented Kalvimani with a jar of honey, symbolizing their gratitude and respect, the audience was moved to tears. Pazha Nedumaran also shared a personal anecdote about his own journey towards social justice, highlighting the importance of collective action and solidarity.
Balakrishnan I.A.S. presented the Nambikkai award to Tamil Scholar Po.Velsamy, recognizing his immense contribution to the study of Tamil history through his many books. The audience was in awe of Velsamy’s vast knowledge and his dedication to preserving the cultural heritage of Tamil Nadu.
Tharesh Ahmed I.A.S was recognized for his groundbreaking work in education, receiving the Nambikkai award from Udhayachandran I.A.S. Ahmed’s “Super 30” Project had transformed the lives of many students in Perambalur district, and seven of them came on stage to thank him personally, speaking of his kindness and his selflessness.
Entrepreneur Krish Mathrubootham was presented with the Nambikkai award by Vikatan Group Director B.Srinivasan. Though Krish couldn’t be there in person, Suman Gopalan, the Head of HR in Krish’s company, received the award on his behalf and spoke of Krish’s vision of making Tamil Nadu the global hub for product development.
Asian Games medalist Arockiyaraj was awarded the Nambikkai award by Former Minister Jayakumar. In his acceptance speech, Arockiyaraj requested the government to renovate the playground in his hometown of Lalgudi and make it a useful space for aspiring athletes.
Nurse Jayakumar, who had rescued hundreds of babies during a fire in his hospital, was honored with the Nambikkai award by Assembly speaker Appavu. In an emotional speech, Jayakumar dedicated his award to his wife and daughter, and Appavu praised the courage of Vikatan in shining a light on the wrongs of those in power.
Director Vinoth Raj, who directed Koozhangal, India’s entry to the Oscars the previous year, received the Nambikkai Award from actor Soori. In his acceptance speech, he expressed his childhood connection to Vikatan and gratitude for the recognition.
Student Vinisha Umashankar, who designed a solar-powered iron box, was presented with the Nambikkai Award by Supriya Sahu I.A.S. She was accompanied by her father on stage during the presentation.
Kaifa organization was awarded the Nambikkai Award for their restoration of water bodies in the Delta region. Actor Vimal presented the award and requested the Kaifa team to restore the waterbodies in his hometown Manapparai. The Kaifa team gladly accepted the request and promised to do their best.
Young cricketer Shah Rukh Khan, who played a significant role in helping the Tamilnadu team win the Syed Mushtaq Ali tournament, received the Youth Icon for Nambikkai Award. His mother received the award on his behalf.
Meena Sathyamurthy, who took up the noble job of burying unclaimed dead bodies, received an award from Chennai Mayor Priya. Directors Pushkar and Gayathri presented the Nambikkai Award to Actor Manikandan, who performed some acts of mimicry on stage.
Sub-Collector Ranjithkumar IAS, who cleared the IAS exam despite his disabilities, received the Nambikkai Award from Nandakumar IAS, the Commissioner of School Education. Ranjithkumar invited his parents on stage to share his happiness.
Rap artist Arivu received the Nambikkai Award from Director Mari Selvaraj and was asked to sing a song about hope, to which he also sang his famous song ‘Enjoy Enjaami’, and the audience joined him in the chorus. Poovulagin Nanbargal Sundarrajan presented the Nambikkai Award to Vyasai Thozhargal, an organization of youngsters from North Chennai who helped set up mobile oxygen centers in autos during the pandemic. The Vyasai Thozhargal team dedicated their award to all the people of North Chennai.
The Nambikkai Awards 2021 event concluded with a musical performance by Lydian, leaving the audience full of hope and energy.