Diabetologist, experimental theatre pioneer get Padma Shri

Eminent musicians M.S. Gopalakrishnan and T. V. Gopalakrishnan, both chosen for the Padma Bhushan, were among those honoured from Tamil Nadu on the eve of Republic Day. Two well-known doctors, a social worker, an industrialist and a pioneer in experimental theatre are the other awardees from the State.

M.S. Gopalakrishnan, the foremost exponent of the Parur tradition of violin playing, said it was the blessings of his father Parur Sundaram Iyer which enabled him to achieve great heights in the field of music.

“I have won many awards. But I deem this special,” said the 81-year old violinist, who is known as MSG in the Carnatic music world. A recipient of the Music Academy's Sangita Kalanidhi award, he was conferred Padma Shri in 1970.

“My father would say that we should not go behind anyone in search of recognition and awards. I still follow his advice,” MSG said, when contacted for his reaction to the latest honour.

T V Gopalakrishnan is a versatile musician, who is an exponent in both Carnatic and Hindustani classical vocal, besides being one of the front-ranking mridangam players. “I think the award is recognition for me as a multifaceted musician and not as a Carnatic or Hindustani vocalist or a mridangam player. It is recognition for years of my hard work,” said TVG.

“I have been performing and teaching these art forms for the sheer love and passion that I have for them. I haven't made money out of them. I saw the list of Padma awardees and I think they are all great achievers,” he said.

V. S. Natarajan, considered the father of geriatric medicine in India, has been conferred the Padma Shri. He started a separate Geriatrics Department at the Government General Hospital here in 1978 and established an outpatient wing, the first such unit in the country. A B.C. Roy awardee, he has launched several unique programmes, including training of geriatric nursing aides, a memory clinic and a geriatric house call programme. “I am happy with the recognition, I see it as an achievement for the field of geriatrics, and hope this would mean more thrust would be placed on the welfare of senior citizens. I will continue to serve this community as long as I am mentally and physically fit to do so,” Dr Natarajan said.

Another Padma Shri awardee, V. Mohan, is Chairman and Chief of Diabetology, Dr. Mohan's Diabetes Specialities Centre, and President & Director of the Madras Diabetes Research Foundation.

Dr. Mohan is one of the few doctors in India to have received Fellowships from all the four Royal College of Physicians – London, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Ireland. He has received about 100 awards, including the prestigious Dr. B.C. Roy National Award of the Medical Council of India, the Basanthi Devi Amirchand Prize from the Indian Council of Medical Research, and the Wockhardt Medical Excellence Award from Harvard Medical International, Boston, U.S.A.

Reacting to the Padma Shri award, he said, “I am very happy that 30 years of my work in diabetes has been recognised. I accept the award on behalf of all my colleagues. The inspiration and support came from three people, Sathya Sai Baba, my father, Prof. M. Vishwanathan, who introduced me to the field, and my wife, late Rema Mohan, who was my constant support.”

Na. Muthusamy, director of Koothu-p-pattarai, an experimental theatre group, who gets a Padma Shri, said he would continue to his creative work in theatre. “I am happy about the award. What is important me is that my wife and those around us are very happy, said 76 year-old Muthusamy, who founded the Koothu-p-pattarai along with a few others in 1977, drawing inspiration from Theru-k-koothu, a performing folk art form in Tamil Nadu.

Seventy-year-old social worker P.K. Gopal, who hails from Erode, has been honoured for his contribution to leprosy eradication and rehabilitation of leprosy patients. Now president of IDEA India, a voluntary organisation, Dr. Gopal has won other honours, including the Wellesley Bailey International Award and FESCO Award instituted by the Nippon Foundation of Japan.

“I am very happy. It is a great honour not only to me but to all those who are working in the field of leprosy eradication. It is also an honour for the Erode district,” Dr Gopal said. Noting that many parts of the country had by and large achieved the goal of leprosy eradication, he said there were some States that had not. “The government and NGOs should not dilute their leprosy eradication efforts as new leprosy cases are being reported every year.”

M.V. Subbiah, former Chairman of the Murugappa Group and Chairman of National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC), who was selected for rendering distinguished service in the field of trade and industry, said: “I have always felt that such an honour though awarded to an individual is a recognition of team work. In my case, this is an honour for the great work done by the teams at the Murugappa Group and the NSDC.”

Keywords: Padma awardees