Ex-Arunachal Minister Karma Wangchu conferred with Padma Shri

New Delhi: President of India Droupadi Murmu has conferred the Padma Shri to former Arunachal minister and social worker Karma Wangchu (posthumously) for his exemplary contributions in the field of social work.

The awards were given away at a civil investiture ceremony held in New Delhi on Wednesday.

Born on September 27, 1935, in Seru village in Tawang, Wangchu did not receive formal education but began his career with the NEFA police in 1959-60. During his tenure, he served as a junior intelligence officer-II in the Subsidiary Intelligence Bureau (SIB) from 1960 to 1976.

Wangchu received recognition for his distinguished and meritorious service during the 1962 Sino-India War, with a certificate and cash award. He also received the silver medal for meritorious service in 1972. Additionally, he was appointed as the first Gaon Bura of Seru Tso village.

At the age of 16, Wangchu undertook a journey on foot to Lhasa and had an audience with the 14th Dalai Lama at Potala Palace. Their mutual bonding continued and was further cemented by the gracious visit of the 14th Dalai Lama to Wangchu’s residence at Tawang twice, in the years 1997 and 2003.

Wangchu was the founder of the Indo-Tibet Friendship Society, Arunachal Pradesh. He aimed to bring the Tibetan community of Arunachal Pradesh closer to bonafide locals to prevent Chinese influence over Tibetan communities on the Indian side. He worked towards making the people of the Indo-Tibet border more patriotic towards India, our motherland.

As a representative of the public from 1978-1994, Wangchu worked tirelessly towards the preservation and promotion of the rich cultural heritage in the border areas of the state. He also diligently served the people at the grass root level, by taking government policies and development schemes to the remotest corners and border areas of Tawang district.

Wangchu served as Pro-Tem Speaker of the Arunachal Pradesh Legislative Assembly, and as Health, Transport, and Cooperation Minister in the cabinet headed by the then Chief Minister Tomo Riba. He did not lose any elections in his long political career and gracefully retired from active politics in 1994.

He believed that education was the catalyst for economic growth and other developmental and social works. After retiring from active politics, he continued his service towards society, especially in the field of education by starting the Choephelling Public School for the destitute and orphans.

As part of his philanthropic contribution, he provided free education along with residential facilities to more than 1,250 children, mostly orphans, destitute and children belonging to very poor families of the border villages like Mago, Thingbu, and Zemithang in Tawang district.

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A devout follower of the 14th Dalai Lama and an ardent advocate of his teachings of compassion, Karma till his demise was actively involved in humanitarian activities and took out time to work tirelessly towards the preservation of the rich Monpa culture and traditions of Tawang.

Wangchu passed away on October 20, 2022.

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