Woman of the year

Woman of the year

Hope for the hopeless (Prodigy of renowned activist, Padmashree Binny Yanga)

-Chow Bilaseng Namchoom

President Smti Pratiba Patil felicitating Padmashree to Smti Binny Yanga. Noted social worker of Arunachal Pradesh, Binny Yanga, the founder-chairperson of Oju Welfare Association (OWA), an NGO that works for education, health and upbringing of socially disadvantaged sections, besides promoting income generation activities and training of tribal women of the State is the recipient of numerous awards in recognition of her dedicated services in the field of education of orphans and destitute. She has so far received many awards including Dr Durgabai Deshmukh Award, Co-operative Excellence Award, COSIA Entrepreneurship Award 2010 for North Eastern Region and many other awards and recognition for her contribution in the field of education, handloom and handicraft sector and other fields of social welfare in Arunachal Pradesh.

Recently she added another feather in her cap by receiving the prestigious Padma Shri, the fourth highest civilian award, in recognition of her immense contribution in the field of social work. Yanga is among the 109 recipients of Padma Awards-2012, including five Padma Vibhushan, 27 Padma Bhushan and 77 Padmashree awards as announced by President Pratibha Devisingh Patil.

She is one of 19 women among the awardees and one of the six achievers from the North East to receive the prestigious award. She would also be the fourth from Arunachal to receive the Padmashree award after former Arunachal Pradesh Congress Committee president late Omem Moyong Deori, Buddhist monk Lama Thuptem Phuntsok and prominent author, poet & journalist Mamang Dai.

Want some inspiration? She is an extraordinary woman who achieved the incredible — and refused to give up despite hardship, tragedy and appalling odds. She is none other than a remarkable woman Padmashree Binny Yanga and her works aligns with calling in life, which is to contribute to the development of the human race.

Sharing her delight to journo she said, “It’s (the Award) the outcome of my long 32 years hard work for the upliftment of the tribal society in Arunachal. I am fully satisfied now.”

Also giving the credit to her well-wishers especially the State Governor, Yanga said, “I am indebted to Governor Gen (Retd) J.J Singh, who has been so cooperative to me and made me one of the recipients of the Padmashree award.”

British High Commissioner Richard Stag along with Governor Gen J.J .Singh and Padma shree awardee Bini Yanga at Oju Mission Naharlagun“It has not just given me the national recognition but has also encouraged me to work with renewed vigour for the wellbeing of underprivileged sections of the society,” wraps up the entrepreneur-turned-social activist, who also bagged the NCDC Cooperative Excellence Award previously and various certificates of honour from different parts of country and abroad excepting her own State, Arunachal Pradesh.

Padmashree Yanga says that down the road, she wants to be known as someone who values process and quality and is a strong advocate of continuous improvement.

Born on 7th July 1958 to father late Bini Jaipu and mother Bini Yanya both of whom were social activist by their own right, Bini Yanga got her school education in Banasthali Vidyapith, Rajasthan and then Assam Board. She was an activist since her student life and formed the All Subansiri District Girls Welfare Association as its President and raised her voice against social evils such as child marriage, forced marriage, bride prices etc.

She also served as Assistant Teacher and joined the first batch of lady police under Arunachal police in 1987. The experiences gathered during these periods where she closely watched plight of girls and women motivated her to set up shelter homes for such victims.

In 1979 she initiated a small Adult Education and Nursery centre in Naharlagun and shelter home for girls and victims of child marriage, forced marriages and the destitute. This humble beginning finally grew up to become Oju Welfare Association which she registered it in 1988. Today Oju Welfare Association runs many educational and charity services including following centers:

  • Shishu Greh (orphanage)
  • Crèche
  • Maintenance of 150 destitute children
  • Short Stay Home for 45 destitute women and girls
  • Working Women’s Hostel
  • Family Counseling Centre and Women’s Help Line,
  • Educational Institutions for 100 poor boys and needy ST girls at low literacy pocket of Seppa, providing free education
  • Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya at Jang, Tawang for 100 girls
  • Secondary school affiliated to CBSE at Naharlagun for poor and dropouts
  • Vocational Training Centre with various trades
  • Organizing awareness campaigns, seminars etc on various social and health issues
  • Apart from these two organizations, namely State Resource Centre AP and Jan Shikshan Sangsthan, Naharlagun, sponsored by Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India, are also functioning under the aegis of OWA.
I am now a cancer patient and having realized the trauma and difficulties under which a cancer patient has to undergo frequently, I feel the need of doing something for cancer patients in our state.

She is also the founder of Himgiri Multi-purpose Co-operative Society the objective of which is to cater to the needs of rural artisans and provide marketing facilities for their products. The products under this project have been exhibited in India and abroad.
Presently, altogether 200 people are earning their livelihood from her organizations.

Shri Obang Tayeng, Deputy Director of Information & Public Relations, Government of Arunachal Pradesh spoke to her in her office to get her views on her mission and life.

OT: Madam, please tell us how this idea of serving the society selflessly come into you?

BY: I come from a family of social workers. My father late Bini Japu served as Political Assistant who frequently argued and settled several cases of child marriage, forced marriage, and other cases of social evils. My mother also helped him resolve many cases. As a child I was witness to several incidents of injustice in the society meted out to women and girls.

I was also lucky to have been educated in Vanasthali which made me realize many failings in our society and the need of reforming the negative aspects of the tradition.

OT: Who is your role model?

BY: Bini Yacho, my maternal grandmother, though my parents also played crucial roles in my life. My grandmother got 25 slaves as her bride price but being a reformist person she set them all free. Her fight against social evils made a deep impression in my mind that later inspired me to sustain my mission.

OT: What are your views about present status of women and girl-child in our state?

BY: Condition of girl-child and women have marginally improved in the recent years. This is because of educational facilities extended by government and missions such as VKV and Ramakrishna Mission etc. But quality of education in rural areas is quite dismal and we must put in efforts to improve them.

OT: Is there any more new plan at your hand now?  

BY: I am now a cancer patient and having realized the trauma and difficulties under which a cancer patient has to undergo frequently, I feel the need of doing something for cancer patients in our state. I am thinking of setting up a home for the poor patients in the capital by providing free and easy accommodation. The idea has, however, not taken any definite shape so far.  

OT: Finally, your advice to the youth of the state?

BY: Mostly our youths are only looking for government jobs and most of them are not prepared to take up entrepreneurship on their own. I think this is not right. They must learn to work hard, take up different trades. Even small jobs are important and we must value them. Only through dedication and selfless service we can bring positive change in the society.

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