The President of India, Pranab Mukherjee presented the Asom Ratna Award for the year 2012 to Indira Goswami (posthumously) and the Srimanta Shankardeva Award for the year 2008 to Sharmila Tagore on 13 May 2013 at a function at Guwahati, Assam. Sharmila Tagore has contributed richly to India’s cultural life as a goodwill ambassador for UNICEF and Chairperson of the Indian Film Censor Board.
Indira Goswamy was a legendary story teller and prolific novelist who courageously advocated social change in a very volatile period in Assam’s history. She would be particularly remembered for her role as a mediator in talks between armed militants in Assam and the Government of India. In all her works, ‘Mamoni’ as she was known, had focused on women, the disadvantaged and the oppressed in society. By creating a consciousness about these problems, she was able to sow the seeds of change.
The Srimanta Sankardeva award would propagate the teachings of Swami Srimanta Shankardeva, an Assamese saint, scholar and social reformer who lived in the 15th and 16th Centuries. His Neo-Vaishnava movement repudiated caste barriers and sought to create an egalitarian civil society based on the shared values of fraternity, equity, humanism and democracy.