Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Sharad Pawar, former Speaker of the Lok Sabha P.A. Sangma and senior BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi were on Wednesday conferred the Padma Vibhushan, the second highest civilian honour in the country.
A senior government official said that this year more than 15 unsung persons were chosen for the awards and special emphasis was laid on recognition to people who rendered selfless service at the grassroots.
Award for ‘Cho’
Journalist and political satitrist Cho Ramaswamy, who died last year, was conferred the Padma Bhushan while spiritual guru Jaggi Vasudev was awarded the Padma Vibhushan.
Late Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Sunder Lal Patwa was given the Padma Vibhushan posthumously.
This year the President of India has approved conferment of Padma Awards to 89 persons comprising seven Padma Vibhushans, seven Padma Bhushans and 75 Padma Shri awards; 19 awardees are women.
Legendary singer K.J. Yesudas was accorded the second highest civilian honour. Not many famous film personalities featured in the list.
Musicians, singers strike it rich
Musicians and singers were given preference this year with Grammy-winning musician Vishwa Mohan Bhatt being named for Padma Bhushan while singer Kailash Kher and Anuradha Paudwal were named for Padma Shri.
Continuing his good year in cricket, Indian cricket captain Virat Kohli was awarded the Padma Shri. Other sportspersons to be so awarded include Olympian Sakshi Mallik, gymnast Deepa Karmakar, Vikas Gowda for discus throw and P.R. Sreejesh for hockey.
Among NRIs to be awarded this year are pioneering AIDS researcher Dr. Suniti Solomon, surbahar artist Imrat Khan and Anuradha Koirala from Nepal for social work.
Among journalists, film critic Bhavna Somaiya got the Padma Shri, while “Vishwaveena” maestro Vishwa Mohan Bhat was conferred the Padma Bhushan.
The Padma series of awards are conferred in three categories- Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan and Padma Shri. While ‘Padma Vibhushan’ is awarded for exceptional and distinguished service; ‘Padma Bhushan’ for distinguished service of high order and ‘Padma Shri’ for distinguished service in any field. The awards are announced on the occasion of Republic Day every year. These awards are conferred by the President of India at ceremonial functions which are held at Rashtrapati Bhawan usually around March/ April every year.
Nonogenarian Bhakti Yadav, popularly known as "Doctor Dadi" from Indore, and captain of Indian cricket team of blind Shekhar Naik are among the unsung heroes who were today named for Padma Shri. Gold medallist at Rio Paralympics Mariyappan Thangavelu also figured in the list of Padma Shri awardees.
Ms Yadav, 91, is the first woman from Indore to hold an MBBS degree. She has been treating patients free of cost for the past 68 years and has helped deliver thousands of babies.
Mr. Thangavelu, who won gold in Rio 2016, is a born fighter. He had suffered permanent disability in the right leg when he was run over by a drunk bus driver. His father had abandoned the family and he was raised by his mother who used to work as a labourer.
Karnataka's Sukri Bommagowda, known as "Nightingale of Halakki", has been named for Padma Shri for performing tribal folk music for 58 years.
School dropout Jitendra Haripal, popular as "Rangabati ki Awaz", has been selected for Padma Shri for his contribution to Odhisa's most popular recorded song "Rangabati" and being a top exponent of Kosli-Sambalpuri music. Ela Ahmad, 81, from Assam has been selected for Padma Shri for running the only magazine for women in the northeast since 1970.
"Granny with a sword", 76-year-old Meenaakshi Amma from Kerala, who began her martial art classes at the age of seven, has also been chosen for Padma Shri.
Another person chosen for Padma Shri, Chintakindi Mallesham from Telangana, invented Laxmi ASU machine to reduce the time and menial labour required to weave Pochampalli silk sarees.
Daripalli Ramaiah, 68, knows as Chetla Ramaiah or "The Tree Man" from Telangana has also been selected for Padma Shri.
Ramaiah is a common man who has dedicated his life to make India green by planting over one crore trees. Volunteer fire fighter Bipin Ganatra from West Bengal was decorated with Padma Shri. He is the only person apart from fire brigade officials who has been to almost every fire accident site in Kolkata in the last 40 years.
"Highway Messiah" Dr Subroto Das has also been named for Padma Shri. He is one of the pioneers in bringing medical relief to accident victims on national highways.
Girish Bharadwaj, 66-year-old social worker from Karnataka, also known as "Sethu (bridge) Bandhu", has to his credit building of more than 100 low-cost and eco-friendly suspension bridges connecting remote villages across India. He has also been selected for Padma Shri.
Karimul Haque (52), a tea garden worker affectionately called "Ambulance Dada", hails from West Bengal's Jalpaiguri, will be decorated with the award for converting his bike into an ambulance offering a 24x7 service.
Another person in the Padma Shri list is "Swacchhta Doot" from Pune's Dehu village, Dr Mapuskar (88), who dedicated his life to make his village open defecation free beginning as early as in the 1960s. Balbir Singh Seechewal, 51, from Punjab will be honoured with the award for rendering social service and resurrecting 160-km-long river Kali Bein in the state by mobilising local youths and volunteers in the mission.
Gujarat's Genabhai Dargabhai Patel (52) is a "divyang" farmer and has taken huge efforts to make his drought-hit village in Banaskantha district become the largest producer of pomegranate in the country. Also known as "Anar Dada", he will be conferred Padma Shri.