Gen. Rawat, Ghulam Nabi Azad, N. Chandrasekharan conferred Padma awards

President Ram Nath Kovind presents Padma Vibhushan to General Bipin Rawat (Posthumous) for Civil Service, in New Delhi on March 21, 2022

President Ram Nath Kovind presents Padma Vibhushan to General Bipin Rawat (Posthumous) for Civil Service, in New Delhi on March 21, 2022 | Photo Credit: PTI

The first Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) late General Bipin Rawat, Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad, Tata Sons chairman N. Chandrasekaran, former Comptroller & Auditor General (CAG) Rajiv Mehrishi and former chairman of Gita Press late Radheshyam Khemka were among 54 prominent personalities who were conferred the Padma awards by President Ram Nath Kovind on Monday.

Gen. Rawat and Khemka, who headed the Gita Press that is well known for publishing Hindu religious literature, were given Padma Vibhushan, the second–highest civilian award, posthumously at a civil investiture ceremony held at the Rashtrapati Bhavan. The award for Gen. Rawat was received by his daughters while a close family member received it for Khemka.

Mr. Azad, Mr. Chandrasekaran, Mr. Mehrishi, Cyrus Poonawalla, founder of Serum Institute of India (SII), maker of Covishield vaccine, para–athelete and javelin thrower Devendra Jhajharia were among the eight people who were honoured with Padma Bhushan, the third–highest civilian award.

Many of the Padma awardees were “unsung heroes” including 125-year-old yoga practitioner Swami Sivananda. The audience clapped as a barefoot Sivananda, dressed in a white kurta and dhoti, knelt before Prime Minister Narendra Modi who promptly got up and bowed before him to return the greeting.

Among the dignitaries present were Vice–President Venkaiah Naidu and Union Home Minister Amit Shah.

Since 2014, the Narendra Modi government has been honouring many such “unsung heroes” who have been contributing to the fields of art, social work, public affairs, science and engineering, trade and industry, medicine, literature and education, sports and civil service among others.

The government’s choice of awardees from the field of public affairs — Mr. Azad (Congress) and former West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee (CPI-M) — stirred a public debate.

While Mr. Bhattacharjee refused to accept the honour, Mr. Azad, who is now part of Congress G-23, a ginger group pushing for internal reforms, accepted it. Taking a dig at this, Jairam Ramesh (Congress) had tweeted that Mr. Bhattacharjee chose to be azad (free) instead of being a ghulam (slave) .

Announced on the eve of the Republic Day every year and conferred by the President at ceremonial functions held at the Rashtrapati Bhawan, this year has 128 awards including two duo cases (in a duo case, the award is counted as one).

The list of awardees comprises four Padma Vibhushan, 17 Padma Bhushan and 107 Padma Shri awards. While 34 of the awardees are women, the list includes 10 persons from the category of foreigners, NRI, PIO, OCI and 13 posthumous awardees.

The second civil investiture ceremony is scheduled to be held on March 28.

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Printable version | Mar 22, 2022 8:05:13 am |