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Monday, April 1, 2019

Padma Shri to Saalumarada Thimmakka makes us feel proud

I am moved –- please hold your conscious, do you know this woman or would have felt that she had done great things changing the society -  have more reasons to hail the present Govt and our Hon’ble Prime Minister Sri Narendra Modiji; always feel that somewhere our priorities went wrong and that people started looking at only Cine stars, Cricketers and politicians as heroes and noteworthy persons in the society  .. .. every year Padma Awards would be announced – on gleaning the list would feel that the awardees would be more of tinsel stars – I have been consistently posting that the Nation need to honour its Scientists and those who change the society – not those who earn millions by acting in cinema, playing Cricket but contribute nothing towards Nation building – the other view offered me to by my friend that ‘Movies’  is arts, entertainment and those successful deserve such honours.  My view is they earn by acting, players earn by their game – but Nation is more served by Scientists, Social workers, and many others who silently have been working for the betterment of the Nation, silently without even thinking of any recompense or recognition at some level.

Today, the President of India, Shri Ram Nath Kovind presented three Padma Vibhushan, six Padma Bhushan and forty-eight Padma Shri Awards at a Civil Investiture Ceremony held at Rashtrapati Bhavan, and you are looking at the photo of a Padma Shri recipient – Saalumarada Thimmakka, by name; she is old (105!) , had no formal education and worked as a casual labourer in a quarry ! ~ great person !.

Saalumarada Thimmakka also known as Alada Marada Timakka is an environmentalist from the state of Karnataka, noted for her work in planting and tending to 385 banyan trees along a four-kilometre stretch of highway between Hulikal and Kudur.  Not many of us have cared to know that a  U.S. environmental organisation based in Los Angeles and Oakland, California called Thimmakka's Resources for Environmental Education is named after her.

Thimmakka was born in Gubbi Taluk, Tumukuru District in Karnataka. Her parents were Smt. Vijayamma and Sri Chikkarangayya. Having been born in poor family, Saalumarada Thimmakka could never go to school because of utter poverty and lack of facilities. She was married to Chikkaiah, a native of Hulikal village in the Magadi taluk of Ramanagar district in Karnataka. She received no formal education and worked as a casual laborer in a nearby quarry. Saalumarada (row of trees in the Kannada language) is how she is being referred to because of her work.

The marriage did not change her social status and she continued to be poor. She perhaps had no great incentive in live.   Later, with her husband’s encouragement Thimmakka set on a mission to plant as many trees as possible. She planted trees along 4 KMs stretch from her village Hulikal to Kudoor. She not only planted those trees but also tended them until they grew into sturdier. The couple who have believed firmly in planting trees as a great service to the environment, country and humanity, neither grieve nor glorify their poverty. After their regular work till the noon, the couple took to tending the trees by watering, fencing and guarding them. This became her daily routine for many years. Though this passion of serving the environment did not improve her financial conditions, she has been recognized massively by the people of the world as a great environmentalist. Today, Saalumarada Thimmakka stands as an unique individual who has brought recognition to our state, Karnataka worldwide by her incredible and massive environmental service.

                  She had to toil hard for a fistful of food and poverty became an inseparable of part of her life. The society looked down upon her as a barren woman with all its harshness and cruelty which had left her broken and shattered. However with all these, she has made it her life mission to plant trees with an everlasting concern for the environment for the past 75 years. She is now 105 years old. She has become a role model to the entire world today.

According to one of the botanical reports done by a survey, the value of a tree which Thimmakka has planted is nothing less than Rs. 1,75,00,000. One can only imagine the value of all those trees that are planted by her and grown into huge trees now. They are worth several crores of rupees today. Yet, by dedicating all of them in service of the state and the environment and not expecting any reward in return, she has taken a life of a pure, selfless service. But, what is unfortunate is that, she is dependent on a pension of Rs. 500/- given by the government as a sole source of her income even today.   At this old age of 105 years, Thimmakka is living under the care of Sri Umesh B. N, her foster son. Umesh has also involved himself in the mission of preserving the environment and has been planting and tending trees along the roads, in the public places, in the surroundings of schools and on mountain and hill tops.

He is also successfully running the “PRITHVI BACHAO” (Save Earth) movement. Also, he runs his own nursery and distributes plants to those farmers who are interested in growing trees. He has distributed more than 5 lakh saplings until now. He has inspired more than 5 lakh students and public to take an oath to preserve environment. He has given more than 500 lectures of about awareness of environment preservation. Hundreds of awards have been bestowed Saalumarada Thimmakka until now. But, with all these she remains a person of innocence and humility from her. Her name and fame in the world has not affected her humble nature. She has become a legend of her own order and leads a humble and simple life even today.  By conferring Padma Shri on her, the Govt has done the award a favour.    She is indeed a daughter whose name the country takes with immense pride.

 The government of India has taken the initiative of including a poem written on Saalumarada Thimmakka in the CBSE text books, there by recognizing  her invaluable service done to the society and environment. Government of Karnataka has taken steps to include a chapter in the list of lessons prescribed its literacy programme.

Delhi settled comedian, Vasu Ritu Primlani has been accused by Thimmakka of misusing her name. Ms. Thimmakka had filed a private complaint before the Ramanagaram Judicial Magistrate First Class (JFMC) court against a non-resident Indian, Ritu Primlani, for running the organisation named after her for at least 14 years without her consent or knowledge. In 2014, the High Court of Karnataka adjudicated in Ms Primlani's favor, stating that 'if all the charges against Ms Primlani were true, they still won't amount to a crime'. 

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
16th Mar 2019.

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