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It is hard not to get a lump in the throat as you hear an account of acts of bravery of ordinary people who gave up their lives to save others'. But the voice that narrates it in detail doesn't break once.
"It takes every iota of one's self control to get the right expression in the voice, without breaking down," says Shammi Narang, former Doordarshan news reader, in Lucknow on Tuesday to announce the Godfrey Phillips Bravery Awards given every year to ordinary persons for their extraordinary valour. This list covered the northern region and awardees were from UP, Uttaranchal and Delhi. "In Kolkata, I was introducing to the audience to parents of an 18 year old boy who jumped off a moving train to save two kids playing on the railway tracks before getting run over by the train. In Haryana, most of these awards go posthumously and it is to such young persons it wrenches your heart even to look at their pictures. It is just my professionalism and prowess developed over the years that helps me hold back the tears and keep addressing the audience," says Narang, who has been associated with the company since the time of the inception of the award in 1997.
"This entire exercise of identifying and honouring the brave is very close to my heart," says Harmanjit Singh,General Manager, Corporate Affairs of the company. "The Sikh community I hail from has innumerable examples of valour and personally, I have always been inspired more by bravery than any other virtue," says Singh.
The process of screening entries comprises getting a research team to round up people whose names have been suggested by their kin or associates. A synopsis of their brave deed along with their background is presented to persons of repute, including IAS officers, the district magistrates, etc and the final awardees are selected. The company is also providing support to NGOs who, in turn, provide names worthy of the award.