9th Mile, Ri Bhoi, Tuesday, 20 March 2018: As the world celebrates World Social Work Day on 20 March this year, the University of Science & Technology, Meghalaya today honoured environmental activist Padma Shri Jadav Payeng with “USTM Social Work Excellence Award 2018”. Organised by the Department of Social Work of USTM, the award was handed over by veteran journalist, writer and activist Padma Shri Patricia Mukhim.
After receiving the Award, Jadav Payeng, also known as the “Forest Man of India” addressed a packed NK Choudhury Auditorium at USTM and said, “The forest I have built in Kokilabari at Jorhat is above religion and politics. I find my God in nature. I do not want anything from the country, but I know that I have to work for my country. In fact the whole world is my home. I like to go anywhere in the globe if I have to plant trees.” Expressing his happiness to address students in an educational institution, Payeng said that Environment Science should be included from Lower Primary schools and each student should be taught to plant a tree when he or she takes admission for the first time in school. Every five years, that student should plant another tree and look after it, he added.
Patricia Mukhim, the Chief Guest of the award function, said that social work requires a special commitment. Work starts at the family and community level. One of the key learning of social work is how to b4ring people above the poverty line. Their task is to advocate for those who are voiceless, she said. She emphasized on the significance of the World Social Work Day and said that it is a day in the year that social workers worldwide stand together to celebrate the achievements of the profession and take the theme message into their communities, workplaces and to their governments to raise awareness of the social work contributions and need for further action. Payeng’s mission began in 1979 when he was just 14 with planting of 50 bamboo trees in order to prevent death of snakes as many snakes died that year due to heat and the absence of trees. Over the years, the once barren sandbar has turned into a dense forest home to many wild animals.
Speaking on the occasion, Mahbubul Hoque, Chancellor of USTM said that the university is determined to take care of the environment and greenery. “We are extremely happy to have Jadav Payeng, the forest man of India among us who has shown the world how determination, dedication and persistent hard work of a single person can convert a barren land into a forest that now houses Bengal tigers, Indian rhinoceros, and over 100 deer and rabbits”.
Earlier, the welcome address was delivered by Dr. Prateeti Barman, Head, Department of Social Work. The programme ended with the vote of thanks delivered by Dr. R.K. Sharma, Vice Chancellor, USTM. The World Social Work Day is celebrated each year on the third Tuesday of March. This year’s celebration highlights on ‘Promoting Community and Environmental Sustainability’, which relates to the third pillar of the Global Agenda for Social Work and Social Development. Every year, USTM celebrates it by giving the Social Work Excellence Award to individuals who have immensely contributed to the society.