Andhra Pradesh Bureau

Top honour for Humpy, Mujtaba Hussain, Ananda Shankar, Mohan Babu and Pannuru Sripathi

HYDERABAD: Five persons of eminence in their respective fields of activity from the State have been awarded Padma Shri. Barring one, all others belong to the field of art, culture and literature.

They are Ananda Shankar Jayanth (classical dance), Koneru Humpy (sports - chess) Mohan Babu (film industry), Pannuru Sripathi (fine arts) and Mujtaba Hussain (literature).

Koneru Humpy: The chess champion, credits her selection for `Padma Shri' award by the Union Government to her father-cum-coach Ashok while describing him as her `backbone'.

"It's quite unexpected" was the reaction of the 19-year-old Humpy. "It's inspiring as well as an honour that has strengthened my resolve to scale the heights in the chess world," she adds. Humpy, who was in Tadepalligudem of West Godavari district to flag off the 7K run, says: "One needs to be bold enough and confident until he or she reaches the goal."

She regrets that cricket is hogging the limelight of late while the other games like chess and boxing are taking a back seat. "China still enjoys an edge over India in chess," she says.

Mujtaba Hussain: "It is a sense of achievement for my humble service to society," is how Urdu writer Mujtaba Hussain reacted after being selected for the Padma Shri award.

For the 70-year-old journalist turned writer born in Gulbarga of erstwhile Hyderabad State in 1936, it is a landmark in a 45-year career span. "I am very happy at winning the award among the 100 crore population," Mr. Hussain said.

After his BA from Osmania University, he joined Urdu daily Siasat in 1956 and began a satirical column.

His humorous writings in the daily caught people's attention. A retired editor of publications division of NCERT, Mr. Hussain's love for writing humorous prose, essays and travelogues won him awards since 1984 including the prestigious Ghalib award.

He is a recipient of the Urdu academy awards instituted by Andhra Pradesh, Haryana, Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh Governments.

He has published 18 books, the latest being `Aap Ki Taareef' in 2005.

Greater responsibility

Ananda Shankar Jayanth: An elated Kuchipudi dancer, Ananda Shankar Jayanth, wished that her parents - G.S. Shankar and Subhashini and father-in-law Dwarakanath were alive today to share the honour. "I really miss them. It is really a top-of-the-world feeling. While motivating me further, I know the award has thrust greater responsibility on me," she says.

From age four, she started learning dance. "The seven years at Kalakshetra in Chennai really moulded her as a dancer." Awards are something she has gotten used to starting from a juniors gold medal from Navya Nataka Samithi. Currently an officer of the rank of Chief Commercial Manager, Dr. Ananda Shankar Jayanth is on deputation, serving the State Government as Additional Secretary, Tourism.

It's a blessing

Mohan Babu: "The award has only increased my responsibility towards society. I am what I am because of the immense affection showered by crores of Telugus. I have to repay my gratitude," the actor who has been an integral part of the Telugu film industry for well over four decades of its 75 years says.

On the State Government's Nandi award eluding him even after 510 films as an actor and 47 films as producer, Mr. Mohan Babu, has been a thorn in the flesh for the servility-demanding Telugu film industry with his forthrightness.

"I have got the nation's coveted award and more importantly, the blessings of Telugus all these decades," he says.

Another Padma Shri awardee Ponnuru Sripathi is famous for his Thanjavur paintings and belongs to Hyderabad.

He is rated very high in the art circles for his miniature Thanjavur paintings.