A search committee, which included members from various ministries and departments, had recommended 26 names for the Padma awards this year. Only two — musician Shankar Mahadevan and Professor Subhash Kak — made the cut. Among those who didn’t make it to the final list were ISRO Chairman K Sivan, former IIT-Bombay Director Devang Khakhar and filmmaker Bharatbala Ganapathy.
ISRO, along with DRDO, is behind the recent success of Mission Shakti, which put India in an elite group of countries with anti-satellite (A-SAT) technology.
According to sources in the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), the search committee sent its recommendations to the awards committee headed by Cabinet Secretary P K Sinha and including Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman Harivansh, former SBI Chairperson Arundhati Bhattacharya, Rajya Sabha member Swapan Dasgupta, Sangeet Natak Akademi Chairman Shekhar Sen and former cabinet minister Arif Mohammad Khan.
Besides the ex-officio members, the awards committee also included Union Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba, Sanjay Kothari, Secretary to the President of India, and Dr P K Mishra, Additional Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister.
Among the others recommended by the search committee who didn’t make it to the final list were: social entrepreneur Jeroo Billimoria, BARC scientist P K Wattal, Nimbkar Agricultural Research Institute Director Anil Rajvanshi, Indian Council of Agriculture Research’s Sugarcane Breeding Institute, Coimbatore, Director Dr Bakshi Ram, Hindustani classical music vocalist Pt Sanjeev Abhyankar, film director Ketan Mehta, artist Sankha Samanta and Central Agricultural University, Imphal, Vice-Chancellor S Ayyappan.
Besides the search committee, recommendations for the Padma awards are also received from others, including the state governments and Union territory administrations. This year, the Padma awards were given to 112 people.