Updated: January 26, 2022 6:48:10 am
The GOVERNMENT on Tuesday announced the Padma Awards ahead of Republic Day 2022 and, in a bid to reach across the political divide, picked Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad and CPI(M)’s Buddhadeb Bhattacharya for the Padma Bhushan. Also on the award list were the country’s Covid vaccine makers, leaders of US tech giants Google and Microsoft, and the late General Bipin Rawat, the first Chief of Defence Staff who, with his wife and 12 others, was killed in a helicopter crash last month.
Azad, ex-J&K chief minister and former Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha, thanked the Government for recognising his sacrifices although he was a “hardcore Congressman”. But Bhattacharya, in line with his party’s policy, said in a statement: “If I have been given Padma Bhushan, I refuse to accept it.”
A total of four Padma Vibhushans, 17 Padma Bhushans and 107 Padma Shri awards have been conferred this year.
Gen Rawat, former UP CM Kalyan Singh, Hindustani Classical vocalist Prabha Atre and Radheshyam Khemka of Gita Press have been named for the Padma Vibhushan. Apart from Rawat, Singh and Khemka have been conferred the award posthumously.
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The overall Padma list of 128 also includes Tata Sons chairman N Chandrasekaran, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, Google CEO Sundar Pichai, Serum Institute of India’s Cyrus Poonawalla, Bharat Biotech’s Krishna Ella and Suchitra Ella and Tokyo Olympics gold medallist Neeraj Chopra.
Chandrasekaran, Nadella, Pichai, the Ellas and Poonawalla have been conferred the Padma Bhushan. The Ellas are the founders of Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech that, in collaboration with the ICMR, introduced India’s first indigenously developed Covid vaccine. Covaxin is the only vaccine currently being administered to the adolescent population.
Poonawalla is the chairman of the Cyrus Poonawalla Group, which includes the largest vaccine manufacturer in the world, Serum Institute of India (SII) — 140 crore doses of Covishield have been administered in India’s Covid vaccination drive.
Former Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi, who last served as Comptroller and Auditor General, including during the audit of the Rafale fighter jet deal, has also been conferred the Padma Bhushan. Earlier Tuesday, NSE International Exchange (NSE IFSC), a wholly-owned subsidiary of the National Stock Exchange of India Ltd (NSE), appointed Mehrishi as its new chairman.
Former IAS officer Guruprasad Mohapatra, who “carried out his assigned charge of ensuring oxygen availability during Covid, even from his hospital bed” has been conferred the Padma Shri. Mohapatra died of Covid during the second wave last year.
India’s Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics medallists have made a mark on the Padma list, too. Three-time Paralympics medallist Devendra Jhajharia, who was conferred with the Padma Shri in 2012, was awarded the Padma Bhushan while Neeraj Chopra, only the second athlete from the country to win an Olympic medal, was among the eight Padma Shri recipients.
“It is not only recognition for me but for the whole para-athlete community,” Jhajharia said. “Such awards bridge the gap between para-athletes and able-bodied athletes.”
Hockey star Vandana Kataria, whose family was subject to casteist slurs while she was away in Tokyo competing at the Games where India finished fourth, was awarded the Padma Shri. Also on the list was former India football captain Brahmanand Sankhwalkar, who hails from Goa.
Among the other winners were Tokyo Paralympics medallists Avani Lekhara, Sumit Antil and Pramod Bhagat, along with martial arts master Sankaranarayan Menon Chundayil from Kerala and martial arts coach Faisal Ali Dar from Baramulla in J&K.
Among artists, Hindustani classical vocalist Rashid Khan, veteran actor Victor Banerjee and Punjabi folk singer Gurmeet Bawa were conferred the Padma Bhushan. Chandraprakash Dwivedi, the creator of the popular TV serial Chankaya, Benaras gharana thumri singer Shivnath Mishra and playback singer Sonu Nigam were conferred the Padma Shri.
Najma Akhtar, the first woman vice chancellor of Jamia Milia Islamia, is on the Padma Shri list, along with historian Raghavendra Tanwar, who was recently appointed as chairman of ICHR. Tanwar is well known for his works on modern Indian history, particularly the freedom movement and Partition. Dr J K Bajaj of Centre for Policy Studies, a think tank associated with the RSS, is among the recipients.
The Government has also conferred the Padma Shri to 10 specialists in the field of medicine.
The list includes Dr Bhimsen Singhal, for his contribution in the treatment of multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease; Dr Narendra Prasad Misra (posthumous) for treatment protocols for victims of the Bhopal gas tragedy; Sunkara Venkata Adinarayana Rao, for his work in polio surgeries; Dr Veeraswamy Seshiah, for protocols and guidelines for pregnancy diabetes; British-Indian Prof Prokar Dasgupta, for robotic urological surgeries; and paediatrician Dr Lata Desai, for service to tribal communities.
Jagjit Singh Dardi, chairman of Chardikala group, was conferred Padma Shri in the media category.
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