Beyond Metros, Bihar

Bihar teenager to be honoured with ‘The Diana Award’

Bihar’s Muzaffarpur has made it to the news headlines on several occasions for negative development over the last two year but this time its a moment of pride which the economic capital of north Bihar has received a chance to acknowledge.

18-year-old Siddhant Sarang of Muzaffarpur is set to receive the prestigious “Diana Award” for his social activism and humanitarian efforts. This year, the Diana Award celebrates its 20thanniversary year.

What is ‘The Diana Award’?

The Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Award was established in 1999 by a board chaired by the then Chancellor, Gordon Brown, who felt that the award would reflect the personal interest of Princess in supporting the outstanding achievements of young people.

The Award is given out by the charity of the same name and has the support of both her sons, The Duke of Cambridge and The Duke of Sussex. The purpose of the Diana Award is to appreciate and celebrate the work which young people make to society – especially those who are young ambassadors, young leaders, young humanitarians, fundraisers, environmental campaigners, peer mentors, sports leaders, and those who inspire others. The Award is the most prestigious accolade a young person aged 9-25 can receive for their social action or humanitarian work.

Born in Vaishali district of Bihar, Siddhant did his matriculation and higher secondary from Muzaffarpur city.

Under the guidance of his father who is a journalist and mother as a social activist, Siddhant nurtured his pro-people ideals in a progressive environment with humanitarian values.

As child, his first exposure to the complex outer world was when he accompanied a disaster management team led by his father for carrying out relief work during devastating floods of 2008 that caused mayhem.

During school days at Dolphin public school, Siddhant founded Youth Frontliners, a youth-led organisation committed to working for environmental concerns. He was the first student to initiate ‘Van Mahotsav’ (a week-long festival which is carried out to create enthusiasm among masses for forest conservation and planting trees) in his school and since then it is a part of the curriculum. During this discourse, he also started a monthly journal named ‘Nature Lifeline’ with a purpose to raise awareness and garner support.

His interest in documentary film-making grew stronger observing directors who used to visit Bihar to do research on social issues. This influenced Siddhant to make his first documentary movie was ‘She Tells the story’.

‘She Tells the story’ is the story of rural girls going to school from far village which did not have road connectivity and had to cross a river.

An avid reader, Siddhant’s life is driven by lofty ideals of Mahatma Gandhi and Swami Vivekananda.

Santosh Sarang awardee’s father and also the sub-editor of Hindi daily Prabhat Khabar Muzaffarpur chapter says- My family’s environment molded his perception to an extent rest it was his unending curiosity to explore new issues. Consciousness about society at a tender age makes us feel proud and hopeful that he will move forward to mark a positive change.

The Diana Award committee described Siddhant’s contribution as a changemaker for his generation. Highlighting a case study on him, The Diana Award roll of honour said- Siddhant has established himself as a self-taught documentary film maker, fundraiser, social activist and writer committed to educating and empowering young people to speak up and take action against social injustice. He writes for national newspapers as well as blogs and websites for causes close to his heart such as climate change, child labour, gender equality, public policy and education quality.

News of recognition to the young man has brought joy to people of Muzaffarpur as it has added a good name to the region and is a matter of pride for the district and state of Bihar altogether.

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Saurav Kumar is an education activist, he tweets at @SauravK1890

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