A large number of people who receive the Padma awards are from outside the list of nominations received by the government, data obtained by The Indian Express under the RTI Act shows.
According to the data, only 58 of the 104 Padma awardees in 2015 were picked from the 1,840 recommendations received by the government. The other 46, said sources in the MHA, were picked either by the Home Secretary or the Home Minister and forwarded to Prime Minister and then the President for approval. Similarly, in 2016, 65 of the 112 awardees were picked from the 2,311 nominations, while 47 were from outside the list.
MHA sources said it is a “usual practice” to pick some of the recipients from outside the list of nominees.
The data also showed that people who send their nominations for the Padma awards themselves stand a very slim chance of receiving one. In 2015, out of 1,840 names received by the government, 637 people were self-nominated. Only three of them won a Padma award. In 2016, of the 720 people who nominated themselves in the 2,311-member list, only two were conferred the civilian awards by the President.
The information on the nominees and the people who recommended them was provided to The Indian Express by the Ministry of Home Affairs.
A total of 104 people received the awards in 2015 — nine Padma Vibhushans, 20 Padma Bhushans and 75 Padma Shris. In 2016, 112 people — 10 Padma Vibhushans, 19 Padma Bhushans and 83 Padma Shris — received the awards.
Among them, those who nominated themselves in 2015 were ophthalmologist Prof Yog Raj Sharma, Arunachal Pradesh-based social worker H Thegtse Rinpoche and AIIMS gynecologist Prof Alka Kriplani. In 2016, the two winners were commentator Sushil Doshi and leader of the Telangana movement T V Narayana. All of them received Padma Shri awards.
In 2015, of the 58 picked from the nominees, four received Padma Vibhushans, 14 Padma Bhushans and 40 Padma Shris. In 2016, of the 65, five received Padma Vibhushans, 11 Padma Bhushans and 49 Padma Shris.
As per the data, while senior BJP leader L K Advani got the Padma Vibhushan in 2015, another Padma Vibhushan awardee, K K Venugopal, was conferred the honour the same year on Advani’s recommendation.
The same year, 17 people got the awards on the recommendation of 13 state governments, eight were recommended by five Union ministries, nine were nominated by six Union ministers, six were recommended by six BJP MPs and three were recommended by the Padma Awards Committee.
For example, Bibek Debroy got the Padma Shri on the recommendation of Laveesh Bhandari of Indicus Analytics. Former Lok Sabha secretary general Subhash C Kashyap got the Padma Shri on the recommendation of former Karnataka governor T N Chaturvedi. Three Padma Bhushan recipients, journalists Rajat Sharma and Swapan Dasgupta and advocate Harish Salve, and one Padma Shri, Dr Randeep Guleria, were recommended by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. Union Minister Uma Bharti recommended Rambhadracharya and Saumitra Rawat.
In 2016, fewer people recommended by state governments got the award — one each from Goa, Telangana, Chhattisgarh and UP and two from Andhra Pradesh. Two were recommended by BJP national general secretary Ram Madhav and one by UP governor Ram Naik. Ramoji Rao of Eenadu got the Padma Vibhushan on Jaitley’s recommendation.
In 2015, those who were picked from outside the list of nominees included Advani, Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, actor Amitabh Bachchan, social worker D Veerendra Heggade, Karim Al Hussaini Aga Khan (foreigner), Swami Satyamitranand Giri, former chief election commissioner N Gopalaswami, head of the Sree Siddaganga Mutt Shivakumara Swamy, American Hindu teacher David Frawley, Bill Gates, Melinda Gates and Japanese Indologist Saichiro Misumi.
In 2016, people picked from outside the list included Rajinikanth, Shri Shri Ravi Shankar, Jagmohan, economist Avinash Dixit, Dhirubhai Ambani, theatre personality Heisnam Kanhailal, sculptor Ram V Sutar, architect Hafeez Contractor, Indu Jain and journalist Ashok Malik.