Guwahati: ‘Forest Man of India’ Jadav Payeng was honoured with the 128th Commonwealth Points of Light Award for exceptional voluntary and tangible contribution to the local community at a felicitation ceremony in Guwahati on Wednesday evening.
British Deputy High Commissioner to Kolkata Nick Low presented the award to Payeng, which is a personalised certificate signed by the Queen, in presence of distinguished dignitaries.
An environmental activist, in the course of four decades, Payeng transformed a lifeless sandbar in his hometown into a vibrant paradise. Today, a forest that goes by the name Molai Forest of around 550 hectares homes a diverse range of flora and fauna in Majuli island near Jorhat.
Prior to handing over the award, Low said, “You bring life to where there is none. You give us hope that if we fight for our planet’s future, there is hope.”
On receiving the award, Payeng said he was honoured by the recognition, and it has given him added responsibility to work hard.
The indigenous Mising tribal man’s journey of planting sampling as a teenager turning into a flourishing ecosystem has been recognised in India and worldwide. He has also been honoured with Padma Shri, the fourth highest civilian award in India.
The Points of Light Award began in the US under President George HW Bush, and today over 6,000 US Points of Lights have been recognised. UK Points of Light was developed in partnership with the US programme and launched in April 2014. Since then, hundreds of people have been named Points of Light by the Prime Minister, highlighting an enormous array of innovative and inspirational volunteering across the length and breadth of Britain.
Commonwealth Points of Light is a continuation of the Prime Minister’s Points of Light programme, with a special series of awards recognising inspirational volunteers throughout the Commonwealth to coincide with the UK hosting the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in London, April 2018 and serving as the Chair-in-Office of the Commonwealth for 2018-2020. These awards have been made by The Queen, as Head of the Commonwealth, to thank inspirational volunteers across the 53 Commonwealth nations for the difference they are making in their communities and beyond.
One volunteer from each of the 53 Commonwealth countries was recognised in the days leading up to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in April 2018. Following the success of this programme, the Queen decided to continue this work and award, one volunteer, from each Commonwealth country every week.