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Bengaluru: Six eminent personalities including Assam’s Purnima Devi Barman were presented honorary doctorates by Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat at Sri Sathya University in Bengaluru on Wednesday.

Mohan Bhagwat during the event said, “The signs of India growing by bringing together its knowledge base from the past with the futuristic studies are now visible everywhere. If someone had said 10-12 years ago that India will grow, then we would not have taken it seriously.”

Nuclear physicist R Chidambaram and cricketer Sunil Gavaskar were also presented with the doctrates. 

A statement said that Bhagwat also presented honorary doctorates to former ISRO chief K Kasturirangan, Indian Hindustani vocalist M Venkatesh Kumar, an eminent environmentalist from Assam Purnima Devi Barman, and C Sreenivas for delivering free healthcare to many.

Also Read: Assam floods: More than 2.5 lakh people still affected, one new death

Purnima Devi Barman is a wildlife biologist from Assam, India. She is known for her conservation work with the greater adjutant stork (Leptoptilos dubius), known locally as the Hargila. 

She is the founder of the Hargila Army, an all-female conservation initiative. In 2017, Barman was the recipient of both the Whitley Award for her conservation efforts and the Nari Shakti Puraskar, the highest civilian award for women, presented by the President of India.

Barman is also the founder of the Hargilla Army, an all-female grassroots conservation group named after the local name of the greater adjutant.

This group has over 10,000 members including 400 local Assamese volunteers. Their goal is to remove all obstacles that prevent greater adjutant conservation. This movement has been credited with empowering marginalized women and giving them a voice in local conservation issues.

Barman and the Hargila Army also actively rescue and rehabilitate injured greater adjutant nestlings.Also Read: Assam: 300 youths from Tingkhong village join Aginipath

Villagers place nets around nesting trees to catch nestlings if they fall out of trees on windy days (especially during monsoons), and injured nestlings are given medical treatment, rehabilitated at a local zoo then released by the community. Barman has also developed an artificial breeding platform for the greater adjutant, which was successfully used to hatch a nestling in 2019.

Since the onset of Barman’s conservation efforts, local greater adjutant populations have increased. When conservation efforts began in 2007 only 28 nests were found in the Kamrup district colony, but as of 2019 there were 200 nests making this greater adjutant colony the largest in the world.

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