Fondly called the ‘Nutrition Man’, Basanta Kumar Kar, the Global Transform Nutrition Champion, was conferred one of the world’s most prestigious, 2019 Global Nutrition Leadership Award at the UN-led Scaling up Nutrition Global Gathering (SUN GG) in Kathmandu, Nepal. Basanta is the seventh person in the world to receive this coveted award.
The SUN Global Gathering (SUNGG)— the flagship event of the SUN Movement was attended by over 1000 participants from across the world, that included delegations from 61 member countries of the SUN Movement, important Heads of States and key government representatives. The award has been conferred on him for his outstanding contributions and leadership role in realizing the vision for a healthier, more improved world, especially for the vulnerable populations. In doing so, Basanta Kar has been an inspirational force by propelling the agenda for healthier adolescents, women and children, the harbingers of hope for the world.
In his acceptance speech, Basanta recounted the plight and challenges he witnessed, starting from his native village in Odisha, where from he discovered his true calling to eliminate malnutrition and develop human potential for a more peaceful, prosperous and just world.
For him, Good nutrition is a passport to a good life, the fight against malnutrition needs to be more urgent and more focused therefore. “A good life can be realised only with the Right to live a life with dignity with access to safe and nutritious food. To do away with malnutrition and micronutrient deficiency is as urgent and important, as it was to banish evils like slavery” says Basanta Kar.
He highlighted how India’s Poshan Abhiyaan; – Hon’ble Prime Minister’s Scheme for Holistic Nourishment– is becoming a Mass Movement. Citizens are becoming aware of the urgency to banish malnutrition.
He dedicated the award to the ‘men and women’ – the true nutrition warriors on ground – who have been silently waging a war against the scourge of malnutrition, without any explicit recognition or acknowledgment.
A visionary champion, with immense energy, Basanta has taken the challenge of malnutrition into the community domain, adopting an inclusive approach. A ‘Champion among Champions’, he is a change-maker and leader, who has lit the path for cohesive action to tackle the curse of malnutrition. Aacknowledging his contributions by way of this award will propel him further to achieve the objectives of the global nutrition mission, and will serve as an inspiration to the many unsung heroes dedicating themselves to transforming the lives of the poor and underprivileged.
The Global Nutrition Leadership Award was founded in 2012 by Switzerlandbased Sight and Life, a humanitarian nutrition think tank that works to deliver innovative solutions to eliminate all forms of malnutrition among the world’s most vulnerable populations. Prior to Basanta Kar, the previous six awardees include global luminaries and outstanding experts from the field of nutrition.
Raised in the quaint village of Chatara Sasan, in Derabish block, Kendrapara district of Odisha (India), Basanta witnessed poverty and the struggle for good nutrition up close; and has let the experiences shape his thinking with much optimism. He has come to realize, the power of community, its connection and its ability to do great things together, and bring great change.
As a development professional, Basanta has won many accolades. He has previously been conferred the prestigious global ‘Transform Nutrition Champions Award’ in the year 2016 for his exemplary work in South Asia; and is the only person to have received this recognition from both India and Bangladesh. He was awarded the prestigious Odisha Living Legend Award in the year 2016 for his contribution to the state nutrition policy. In 2018, he was recognized by the Government of India for his leadership role in supporting the National Nutrition Mission, also called ‘POSHAN Abhiyaan’. His passion for alleviating the vulnerable is presented by way of poems and prose encapsulated in his collection titled – ‘The Unfold Pinnacle’ that tells of real life stories of marginalised women and girls and their journeys towards better nutrition. Endorsing the book, Nobel Peace Laureate, Prof. Muhammad Yunus, wrote “The Unfold Pinnacle, by Basanta Kar is an extraordinary work that combines the images of those often not spoken about…. He remains sensitive and profound, transporting our cognitive thoughts towards righteousness”.