An evening to celebrate the ‘change agents’

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on March 15, 2019 Published on March 15, 2019

The image of the two leaders (Manmohan Singh and Arun Jaitley) shaking hands and smiling at each other created quite a buzz on Twitter. Photo: Kamal Narang   -  BusinessLine

Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh receives a special momento from K Venugopal, founder editor of the Hindu BusinessLine in New Delhi. Photo: Kamal Narang   -  BUSINESS LINE

By the time saxophonist Lavanya played her first resplendent note to mark the opening of the second edition of the annual BusinessLine Changemakers Awards, at the Leela Palace Hotel in New Delhi on Friday, the hashtag #BLChangemakers had gone viral on social media.

Lavanya enthralled the audience for over 25 minutes with melodies old and new from popular western and Bollywood compositions. Hailing from an illustrious family of percussionists in Mysuru, Lavanya started her music career as a vocalist and violinist at the age of six before taking to the saxophone when she was 15. The disciple of renowned musician Dr Kadri Gopalnath, she has given over 5,000 national and international performances and heads an all-girls band called Queens.

Saxophone Lavanya enthralls the audience with popular numbers from Bollywood. Photo: Bijoy Ghosh   -  BusinessLine


The scintillating performance set the stage for an evening of celebration of some of India’s profound changemakers. The Chief Guest and former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, who is himself something of a changemaker — for having set the tone for economic reforms as Finance Minister in 1991 — arrived to a thunderous ovation.

Dr Singh, who had steered the country as Prime Minister for ten long years from 2004, commended BusinessLine for making a name for itself in less than 25 years and characterised The Hindu Group as “the purveyor of honest and daring journalism”.

Given that the evening was dedicated to changemakers, it was appropriate that Dr Singh gave himself over to a recollection of the profound changes brought in through the economic reforms of 1991. In a democracy, he said, no innovation in the public policy space can take place without evolving a consensus.

The soft-spoken two-term Prime Minister was heard in pin-drop silence by the audience in the Grand Ballroom. Right after this, K Venugopal, Director, The Hindu Group, presentrf Dr Singh with a portrait sketch entirely with words chosen from Dr Singh’s landmark Budget speech from 1991, in which he channelled Victor Hugo to say that economic reforms were “an idea whose time has come”.

Then came the moment everyone was waiting for: the BusinessLine Changemaker Awards 2019. Each of the awardees received rousing applause as their work was showcased. The audience showed special appreciation for the teenage winners who won in the Young Changemaker Award category. While Anju Verma was felicitated for rescuing children from child labour and thwarting child marriages, Kush Pandey and Arjun Pandey were recognised for creating the ScoutMe app that helps football coaches scout for sporting talent. Urgent social issues of dignity were recognised with Bezwada Wilson receiving the Iconic Changemaker Award and the Petitioners of Section 377 being named the Changemaker of the Year.

With the GST Council being the joint winner in the Changemaker of the Year category, the stage was set for an iconic moment. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who is Chairman of the GST Council, received the award — from Dr Singh. The moment was loaded with political connotations: it represented the coming together of leaders from two sides of a political aisle. They posed together along with BusinessLine Editor Raghavan Srinivasan to release a Special Issue of the newspaper. The image of the two leaders shaking hands and smiling at each other created quite a buzz on Twitter.

Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Finance Minister Minister Arun Jaitley release the BL Changemaker Award special edition during the second edition of BL Changemakers event. BusinessLine editor R Srinivasan is also seen. Photo: Kamal Narang   -  BusinessLine


Published on March 15, 2019
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