With a non-transparent selection process and controversies surrounding them, the Padma awards have lost their glory (“Padma as patronage,” Jan. 28). If exceptional service in a field is the main criterion, awards should be given to teachers, nurses, anganwadi workers, etc., who work tirelessly in spite of limited resources, rather than actors who work in movies only to make money (many of them are not even exceptional actors).
The awards are a way of recognising the loyalty of a person towards the ruling party.
The editorial rightly says the Padma awards are seen as “payment for services rendered to the government.” The Award Committee should be made independent of the government.
Padma awards are supposed to be given in recognition of public service. The biggest public service is rendered by our farmers. They are not recognised at all. The awards are generally urban-centric. Peasants may be illiterate but they are imaginative enough to strategise farming practices to produce all that the country needs and a bit more for exports. There are many deserving hands worthy of recognition. Excluding farmers and talking about “inclusive India” is hypocrisy at its worst.
The British awarded titles such as Rao Bahadur, Rao Saheb, Dewan Bahadur, etc., to please those who were loyal to them. Although the government’s intention in giving civilian awards for excellence after independence was noble, the awards lost their significance over the years. Lobbying by interested parties and the neglect of deserving people diminished their value. One hopes the practice of bestowing civilian awards will be stopped soon.