Film-maker cum elephant researcher and the founder of Aane Mane Foundation, Prajna Chowta has been appointed Chevalier de l’Ordre National du Mérite (Knight in the National Order of Merit), one of the highest civilian recognitions of the French government.
About Chevalier de l’Ordre National du Mérite :
The National Order of Merit is a French order of merit with membership awarded by the President of the French Republic, founded on 3 December 1963 by President Charles de Gaulle.
- The reason for the order’s establishment was twofold: to replace the large number of ministerial orders previously awarded by the ministries; and to create an award that can be awarded at a lower level than theLegion of Honour, which is generally reserved for French citizens. It comprises about 187,000 members worldwide.
- French citizens as well as foreign nationals, men and women, can be received into the order for distinguished military or civil achievements, though of a lesser level than that required for the award of the Legion of Honour.
- The President of the French Republic is the Grand Master of the order and appoints all its members by convention on the advice of the Government of France.
- The order has a common Chancellor and Chancery with the Legion of Honour. Every Prime Minister of France is made a Grand cross of the order after 24 months of service.
- The medal of the order is a six-armed Maltese asteri skin gilt (silver for chevalier) enamelled blue, with laurel leaves between the arms. The obverse central disc features the head of Marianne, surrounded by the legend République française (French Republic).
- The reverse central disc has a set of crossed tricolores, surrounded by the name of the order and its foundation date. The badgeis suspended by a laurel wreath.
- The star (plaque) is worn by Grand-Croix(in gilt on the left breast) and Grand Officier (in silver on the right breast) respectively; it is a twelve-armed sunburst, with rays (formerly plain, now in blue enamel) between the arms. The central disc features the head of Marianne, surrounded by the legend République française and the name of the Order, and in turn surrounded by a wreath of laurel.
- The ribbon for the medal is a solid blue field. For the grade of Officier and above, a rosette is centered in the field. For the grades of Commandeur, Grand Officier, and Grand-Croix, the rosette is centered bar of silver; silver and gold, and a solid gold respectively.
About Aane Mane Foundation and Prajna Chowta,
The 46-year-old Ms. Chowta is the founder of Aane Mane Foundation, which for the past 16 years has been researching and conserving wild Asian elephants.
- She has also authored the Elephant Code Book on captive elephant management as well as the French book Enfant d’Elephant (Elephant’s Child) in 2014, which is based on the sketches of tribals and their relationship with elephants.
- As a researcher, she was also instrumental in developing an online monitoring system and one of the first GPS collars for elephants in India.
- Her daughter D.K. Chowta, a businessman and art connoisseur. Her husband, Philippe Gautier, is a French documentary maker. Ms. Chowta spends much of her time in France screening her films as well as advocating the cause of elephants.
- She is among the few Indian women to be appointed a Knight. Earlier this year, businesswoman Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw and actor Kamal Hassan were recognized under the French government’s Legion of Honour award.
- It is noted that she is among the few Indian women to be appointed a Knight. Earlier this year, businesswoman Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw and actor Kamal Hassan were recognized under the French government’s Legion of Honour award