Thespian Soumitra Chatterjee and India's longest serving boss Y.C. Deveshwar were conferred the Banga Samman, West Bengal's highest civilian award, by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Saturday.
"Guide us... criticise us if we go wrong but do not misunderstand us. The awardees have contributed so much to Bengal and the Banga Samman is meant to further encourage them. The kind of talent we have can't be equated with wealth. I urge the awardees to carry forward the legacy of Bengal on both sides of the border (in Bengal and neighbouring Bangladesh)," Banerjee said after giving away the honours.
The Banga Samman awards were instituted in 2011, after Banerjee came to power. Celebrated artistes, singers, sportspersons, filmmakers, intellectuals have been honoured with these awards in the past.
Two categories of awards are presented as part of Banga Samman - Banga Bhushan and Banga Bibhushan.
Industrialist Deveshwar, pulmonologist Dhiman Ganguly, former Mizoram Governor Arun Prasad Mukherjee, veteran actor Chatterjee, and acclaimed poet Nirendranath Chakraborty were conferred the highest category of awards, the Banga Bibhushan.
Recipients of Banga Bhushan this year are Bangladeshi singer Rezwana Chowdhury Banya, folk singer Hidmat Fakir, Chapal Bhaduri, the last living female impersonator in folk theatre in India, baul exponent Lakshman Das Baul and Liver Foundation secretary and gastroenterologist Abhijit Chowdhury.