Special Correspondent

One Padma Vibhushan, one Padma Bhushan and nine Padma Shri awards

CHENNAI: Tamil Nadu has a rich crop of "Padma" awards announced by the Centre on Friday night, sweeping up one Padma Vibhushan, one Padma Bhushan and nine Padma Shri awards.

Padma Vibhushan went to Raja Chelliah, economist.

The Padma Bhushan awardee was N. Mahalingam, industrialist and philanthropist based in Coimbatore and Padma Shri awards went to the following persons: A. Sivasailam, industrialist; Mayil Vahanan Natarajan, orthopaedic surgeon; P.R. Thilagam, artiste; Perumalsamy Namperumalsamy, ophthalmologist; S. Dhakshinamurthy Pillai; Vaali, lyricist; Baldev Raj; K.R. Palaniswamy and Valayapatti A.R. Subramaniam, musician.

N.Mahalingam

N. Mahalingam is the Chairman of the Sakthi Group of Companies, based in Coimbatore. He was a member of the Madras Legislative Assembly for 15 years from 1952 to 1967 and played a key role in bringing about a number of development projects, including the Parambikulam-Aliyar Project that helps irrigate the agriculture lands in the Pollachi region.

The 83-year-old industrialist has served on the Board of Directors of several public sector undertakings and the State Planning Commission in two terms. A well-known philanthropist who donates towards the development of culture and sports, Mr. Mahalingam was involved in the establishment of the Institute of Asian Studies in Madras (now Chennai) in 1981.

Apart from several degrees and honours from Bharathiar University, Anna University and Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, he was recently conferred the Indira Gandhi National Integration Award and the Honorary Consulship of Mauritius.

A. Sivasailam

A former Sherrif of Madras, Mr. Sivasailam took over the responsibility of heading the Amalgamations Group at the age of 34. Ever since 1968, he has been steering the group, which now has 46 companies in its fold operating in a range of sectors including manufacturing, especially of automobile components and tractors, trading, plantation, and services and has a turnover in excess of Rs 4,500 crore.

The group runs educational institutions and a centre for environmental sciences in Alwarkurichi. A commerce graduate, Mr. Sivasailam occupied positions of President of the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (Assocham) and served as Governor on the board of IIT Madras for two terms. "This is an honour long overdue, though Mr. Sivasailam never sought honours.

This will encourage people in business to follow ethical practices", Venu Srinivasan, Chairman of TVS Motors, told The Hindu.

Mayil Vahanan Natarajan

The architect of the Bone Bank in the Government General Hospital, Chennai and the Custom Mega Prosthesis to save limbs from amputation, Dr. Mayil Vahanan Natarajan is also a recipient of the Dr. B.C. Roy National Award in 2003. Dr. Natarajan currently serves as the head of the department of orthopaedics in the GH and has been honoured in the past with the Best Doctor Award from the Tamil Nadu Government and the National Award for Welfare of Persons with Disabilities from the Union Government. His Custom Mega Prosthesis, indigenously made prosthetic implants, has been feted by international experts in the field as a cost-effective way of sparing patients from painful amputations. He is also credited with establishing the first Bone Bank in the country in the Government Hospital.

K.R. Palaniswamy

Dr. K.R. Palaniswamy, a crusader to make Hepatitis B vaccination part of the Universal immunisation programme, is the third doctor from tamil Nadu to be honoured this year. Currently serving as senior consultant gastroenterologist at the Apollo Hospitals in Chennai, he was instrumental in founding the department of Gastroenterology at Stanley Medical College, Chennai. In 2005, he was the president of the Indian Society of Gastroenterology and was awarded the FRCP Glasgow last year.

Perumalsamy Namperumalsamy

He is the Chairman and Professor of Ophthalmology of Aravind Eye Hospitals, Madurai. The 67-year-old Dr. Namperumalsamy is a retina-vitreous expert who now specialises in diabetic retinopathy. A postgraduate fellow of the University of Illinois, Chicago, Dr. Namperumalsamy started the country's first Low Vision Aid Centre at the Government Rajaji Hospital here in 1971. Later, he associated himself with the Aravind Eye Hospital. He was honoured by the American Academy of Ophthalmology with its Achievement Award in 2006.

Valayapatti A.R. Subramaniam

Tavil vidwan, who has been performing for over five decades, enriches concerts with his intricate laya passages and gives them new dimensions. His concerts with Thiruvizha Jayashankar (nagaswaram) and Kunnakudi R. Vaidyanathan (violin) are popular. He has received several honours and awards including `Kalaimamani', `Isai Perarignar' and the Sangita Natak Academy award.

Vaali

Popular lyricist of Tamil films has received the Padma Shri for his contribution to Tamil literature. He started writing in 1958, penning lyrics for the Azhagarmalai Kallan. Since then he has written more than 10,000 songs and has worked with three generations of music directors. Born T.S. Rangarajan, the 75-year old litterateur has authored over 20 books and has been honoured with various awards.

P.R. Thilagam

A dancer and vocalist, P.R. Thilagam was born in a family with a rich dancing tradition. She started her career in Tiruvarur and later on, performed in various districts in the State and even abroad. One of her memorable performances was in `Thanjavur Kuravanji' styled on the more traditional `Kutrala Kuravanji.'

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