Indien: Annapurna Moharana

As there was a curfew in town, the oath-taking ceremony was held inside Annapurna's house: 13-year-old Annapurna also took it-a vow to serve the country, which she keeps to this day.

— Annapurna Moharana

Annapurna Moharana (born 1917) has been working since she was 13 to carry forward the Gandhian tradition of peaceful protest and refusing to compromise with corruption or oppression. In the past 75-odd years, Annapurna has worked on issues ranging from setting up a tribal residential school for girls, sensitizing dacoits (members of robber bands) to pacifism, and resisting the 1975 emergency, to setting up a nursing training center that recruits and trains young women in maternity services.

Freedom-fighter Annapurna Moharana began active social work as a girl. She worked at the Alaka Ashram at Bari, a small village near Puri, Orissa, to implement Gandhi's vision of village India. She lived with the rural people, sensitizing them about untouchability, illiteracy, and colonial rule. She was, obviously, arrested several times. Her methods throughout, though, were nonviolent. She continues the tradition of padyatras (marches) and peaceful protest. In 1972 to 1973, she marched to the notorious Chambal Valley to ask dacoits to lay down their arms. In 1975, during the emergency, she confronted strong police opposition when she went about raising the consciousness of the people. Annapurna is saddened that so many of the relief works she begins are mired in bureaucratic corruption-a far cry from the India that she and other freedom-fighters had fought for. An example of this is the tribal residential complex for girls in Rayagod that Annapurna set up: although the institute has been sanctioned funds from central government, the releasing authority is demanding a bribe. Annapurna will not compromise, and so the money remains unutilized. As an active trustee member of the Kasturba Gandhi National Memorial Trust, which was started by Gandhi in memory of his wife, Annapurna has initiated several innovative projects, among them maternity centers across Orissa to recruit and train young women in maternity services. Age has not slowed Annapurna down, nor diminished her optimism that she can make a difference to a world so different from that of her dreams.

Kasturba Gandhi Memorial National Trust (KGMNT) Sarvodaya Utkal Naagari Lipi Parishad (UNLP)