Padma award winners from Karnataka are an eclectic mix

U.R. Rao (Science & Engineering)

The only Padma Vibhushan award winner from the State is former head of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) U.R. Rao for his contribution to science and engineering in the country.

Having started his career as a cosmic ray scientist, Mr. Rao has overseen the development of India’s nascent satellite technology in the 1970s. It was under his helm that the country’s first satellite Aryabhatta was launched. As the Chairman of ISRO for a decade starting 1984, he oversaw the numerous Satellite Launch Vehicles, including ALSV (Augmented SLV), PSLV (Polar SLV), and GSLV (Geosynchronous SLV).

Apart from this, he has over 350 scientific papers to his name. He was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 1976, and the Karnataka Rajyotsava in 1975; apart from all the major science and engineering awards in the country. He was also the first Indian to be inducted into the International Astronautics Federation (IAF).

Reacting to the award announcement on Wednesday, the 84-year-old said: “I am happy, but it has come a bit late. It is terrible to see the list, which has so many politicians.”

However, he said the award was given to him in recognition of the space department, particularly, in its ability to develop indigenous technologies despite the challenges presented through global sanctions. “These were banned items, which we could not get in the marketplace. We have to make them for scratch, and it is this foundation that has allowed ISRO to do so well now. We have managed to take satellites to the villages, meteorological reports to fingertips.”

Sukri Bomma Gowda (Art & Music)

A few decades ago, a young brave widow of Halakki Vokkaliga community decided to venture out of her hadi (hamlet) along with a bunch of women to showcase the traditional art form of the community. Subsequently, she turned this into a weapon to highlight her community’s plight and also fight social evils.

The widow, Sukri Bomma Gowda, now a septuagenarian, better known as ‘Sukri ajji’ in and around her village, has been chosen for the Padma Shri award by the Union government. From the remote Badageri Koppa in Ankola taluk of Uttara Kannada district, Sukri Bomma Gowda’s art and activism has won her several awards, including the ‘Nadoja’ award of Kannada University, Hampi.

Speaking to The Hindu over telephone from her native village, Sukri ajji said: “ Nange Bhala Santosha Agide (I am very happy).” She said she would continue to train youngsters and do the work she has been doing since several years.

Her relative said the whole village has gathered around Sukri ajji on getting to know that she has been chosen for a “big award”.

Chamu Krishna Shastry (Literature & Education)

Chamu Krishna Shastry, trustee-secretary of the Samskrit Promotion Foundation and general secretary of the Samskrita Bharati, said the Padma Shri award goes to volunteers who have been working for the promotion of Sanskrit across the country.

A native of Kedila village in Bantwal taluk of Dakshina Kannada district, Mr. Shastry has been a swayamsevak of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and co-founded the Samskrita Bharati. An advisor to the Ministry of Human Resource Development, he is also the trustee of the foundation of which former Chief Justice of India R.C. Lahoti is the Chairman.

Mr. Shastry told The Hindu from New Delhi that the award also denotes the government’s affection towards Sanskrit.

Girish Bharadwaj (Social Service)

The builder of 127 suspension footbridges in rural areas, Girish Bharadwaj from Sullia was in a village in Uttara Kannada district when he heard the news of being chosen for the Padma Shri award. He was supervising the construction of his 128th bridge across Gangavali river between Sunkasala and Dogri.

Mr. Bharadwaj (66) said it was an “unexpected award” and his team was happy for it. “Nothing gives more satisfaction than when people in villages thank my team for the connectivity created,” he said, adding that his team built 30 bridges in Kerala, three each in Andhra Pradesh and Orissa, and the remaining in Karnataka.

Among the bridges, the ones constructed across Vamshadhara river in a Maoist-affected village in Raighad district of Orissa and another at Shivapura in Joida taluk of Uttara Kannada were in the remotest areas. He built his first bridge in 1989 across Payaswini river at his native place Arambur village.

G. Venkatasubbaiah(Literature & Education)

Centenarian lexicographer G. Venkatasubbaiah, who remains one of Karnataka’s sharpest minds at 104, has been chosen for the Padma Shri award. Known to Kannadigas as GV, he has enriched the much neglected discipline of lexicography and is considered the ‘father of the modern Kannada dictionary’ having complied as many as 10 of them, including the eight-volume ‘Kannada-Kannada-Nighantu’ brought out by Kannada Sahitya Parishat.

He was adviser to the Chennai-based Institute of Asian Studies’ multilingual dictionary project comprising Japanese, Kannada, English, and Tamil. He was a consultative committee member in the Telugu lexicon project initiated by the Andhra Pradesh government’s Telugu Academy. He enjoys the credit of being the only lexicographer presiding over the prestigious Kannada Sahitya Sammelan.

GV has edited 25 books and published several papers besides writing a column ‘Igo Kannada’ for a daily for nearly 18 years. “I am happy that the field of lexicography is finally being recognised. Much needs to be done in the fields of language and lexicography,” he told The Hindu .

Bharathi Vishnuvardhan (Art-Cinema)

Multilingual actor Bharathi Vishnuvardhan, who recently completed 50 years of acting, says she dedicates her Padma Shri award to film-goers who encouraged her throughout.

She has acted in over 150 films in five languages, including Hindi, Kannada, Malayalam, Tamil, and Telugu, and shared screen with stalwarts of Indian cinema such as Rajkumar, M.G. Ramachandran, Kalyan Kumar, Sivaji Ganesan, Sunil Dutt, Manoj Kumar, B.R. Panthulu and Nutan, besides her husband the late Vishnuvardhan. Rajkumar and Ms. Bharathi were once considered the most popular silver screen pair.

“Vishnuvardhan and people who adored my screen performance always wished that I should be honoured with the Padma Shri. I dedicate the award to them,” she said.

Shekhar Naik (Sports-Cricket)

An elated Shekhar Naik, former captain of the Indian blind cricket team, expressed disbelief at the news of being chosen for the Padma Shri award. “I feel this is a dream. It comes as a complete shock,” he told The Hindu . “It’s only because of my blindness that I got an opportunity to play cricket. This is what I tell all my disabled friends: treat your disability as a gift from God.”

Mr. Naik, who first played for the country in 2002, has represented India in 82 international matches for the blind. He led the side to a T20 World Cup victory on home soil in 2012 and a 40-over World Cup victory in 2014.

Mr. Naik, who hails from Harakere in Shivamogga district, was born blind into a family with a history of vision impairment. “I later gained some vision after a cataract surgery, thanks to a chance encounter with a doctor,” he said.

Vikas Gowda (Sports-Discus Throw)

Vikas Gowda, one of India’s finest track and field athletes, expressed his joy on being chosen for the Padma Shri award. “I’m really humbled to receive this great honour,” the U.S.-based discus-thrower said. “This elevates my efforts to bring more glory to our country and great people.”

Mr. Gowda in 2014 became the first Indian in 56 years to win an athletics gold at the Commonwealth Games, when he finished on top of the podium in Glasgow. The 33-year-old also has a CWG silver (2010), and an Asian Games silver and bronze (2014 and 2010) to his credit. Mr. Gowda was born in Mysuru before moving to Frederick, Maryland, U.S., where he grew up.

At the 2012 London Olympics, he made it to the final of the men’s discus throw, becoming only the seventh Indian to qualify for the final of a track and field event at the Games. Earlier this year, Mr. Gowda made his fourth Olympic Games appearance when he competed in Rio de Janeiro.

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Printable version | Sep 25, 2022 12:55:28 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/Padma-award-winners-from-Karnataka-are-an-eclectic-mix/article17094103.ece