Tata Memorial Awards Honor Top-Performing States and Districts in Reproductive Health and Women’s Empowerment

On 18 December, the national NGO Population Foundation of India organised the prestigious 7th JRD Tata Memorial Awards in Delhi, recognising outstanding achievements of states, union territories and districts in the field of population, reproductive health and women’s empowerment.


Award Categories* and Winners:

  • High Focus States: Uttarakhand and Rajasthan.
  • High Focus North-East States: Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh.
  • Non-High Focus States:

Union Territories: Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu.

District Winners:

  • Low Wealth Level: Anuppur, Surguja, Dadra & Nagar Haveli, Kurung Kumey.
  • Moderate Wealth Level: Basti, Auraiya, Theni, Kra Daadi, East Kameng.
  • High Wealth Level: Barmer, Thoothukudi, South East (NCT Delhi), Lower Dibang Valley.


* Categories and methodology: India’s National Health Mission (NHM) classifies states into two categories based on health metrics like infrastructure, life expectancy, fertility rates, and child and maternal mortality: high-focus (HF) states, which face significant challenges in strengthening weak public health systems and improving key health indicators, and non-high-focus (nHF) states, which generally have better health indicators and infrastructure. Modifications to this classification include placing Assam in the HF category and Delhi in the nHF category. Additionally, a special category, High Focus North East states (comprising Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim, and Tripura), acknowledges the unique geographical, cultural, and developmental challenges these states face. Districts categories were based on a wealth level index (high, moderate, and low), derived from the National Family Health Survey-5 (NFHS-5) data. This index groups the first two quintiles as “High Wealth level,” the third quintile as “Moderate Wealth level,” and the last two quintiles as “Low Wealth level.” A composite score for each state, district and union territory was calculated by taking into consideration a set of 42 indicators at the state level, 33 indicators at the union territory level and 20 indicators at the district level. These indicators, compared over two rounds of the National Family Health Survey (NFHS 4 and 5), were used to measure the progress. The indicators covered the areas of reproductive health, adolescent health, gender equity, family planning, water, sanitation and hygiene, women’s empowerment, gender-based violence, and fertility rates.


Awards Ceremony:


This year’s ceremony was distinguished by the presence of Mr. N Chandrasekaran, the Chairman of Tata Sons who graciously presented the awards to the winners.

“Having Mr Chandrasekaran with us today is particularly meaningful,” said Poonam Muttreja, the Executive Director of Population Foundation of India, in her address. “These awards are a tribute to the vision of our founder, JRD Tata. Mr Chandrasekaran has upheld the Tata legacy admirably, remaining true to the group’s long-standing commitment to social responsibility, a cornerstone of the Tata group’s identity.”


Instituted in 1996, the Tata Memorial Awards are the only national awards conferred by a non-government organization to reward the progress and efforts made by states, union territories and districts across India in identified programme areas. This year, five states, one union territory and thirteen districts received awards in different categories.


The selection of winners was based on a rigorous evaluation process, guided by an esteemed Technical Advisory Committee comprising eminent public health experts, demographers, social scientists and a government representative.


Dr Srinath Reddy, the Chairman of Population Foundation of India’s governing board, acknowledged India surpassing China as the most populous country in the world. “While some predict challenges, others see our population as a potential strength. However, capitalizing on this strength requires insight into population trends and targeted interventions,” he said.


At the event, Mr. Chandrasekaran delivered the 16th Tata Oration titled “Harnessing the Power of India’s Youth”, emphasising the critical role of India’s young population in driving sustainable growth and development. Population Foundation of India instituted the lecture series in 1990, inviting eminent national and international leaders to talk about critical issues related to population, health and development. Previous orations have been delivered by Dr Amartya Sen, Dr Soumya Swaminathan, Mr Somnath Chatterjee, Mr I.K. Gujral, Dr Manmohan Singh, among others.


“Women comprise just 37% of total labor force and receive 35% less wages than their male counterparts for the same work,” Mr. Chandrasekaran said, stressing the importance of women’s participation in the labour force for overall development of the country. “Inclusion and ‘Inclusive Growth’ have been our biggest challenge. We need to ensure access to basic education and healthcare for all.”