Updated: January 26, 2021 12:11:15 pm
Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, under whose leadership India and Japan reinforced and cemented their strategic partnership, and legendary singer late S P Balasubramaniam were among the seven Monday named for this year’s Padma Vibhushan.
Former Chief Ministers late Tarun Gogoi and late Keshubhai Patel, former Union Minister late Ram Vilas Paswan, All India Muslim Personal Law Board senior vice president late Maulana Kalbe Sadiq and former Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan were among the 10 awarded the Padma Bhushan.
The Padma Shri was awarded to 102 individuals – 29 of the Padma awardees were women; there were 10 in the category of foreign nationals, NRI, PIO AND OCI and one transgender. Sixteen people have been given the award posthumously.
Shortly after the announcement by the Home Ministry, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said those awarded were exceptional individuals from different walks of life who brought qualitative changes in the lives of others.
The Padma Vibhushan awardees included top cardiologist and former V-C of Manipal University Belle Monappa Hegde; spiritual leader Maulana Wahiduddin Khan; archaeologist B B Lal; sand sculptor from Odisha Sudarshan Sahoo and Indian American physicist and pioneer in fibre optics late Narinder Singh Kapany.
Also awarded with the Padma Bhushan were former Principal Secretary to PM and now chief of the committee for the Ram Temple construction Nripendra Mishra; singer Krishnan Nair Shantakumari Chithra from Kerala; Kannada writer and founder of Kannada University in Hampi Chandrashekhar Kambara; Maharashtra industrialist Rajnikant Devidas Shroff and former MP Tarlochan Singh.
A notable inclusion in the Padma Shri list is of transgender folk artist from Karnataka Matha B. Manjamma Jogati who currently heads the Karnataka Janapada Academy. Srikant Datar, an Indian-American academician who was appointed Dean of Harvard Business School this year, has been awarded the Padma Shri. Col Quazi Sajjad Ali Zahir from Bangladesh, who has been awarded Padma Shri, is a veteran of the 1971 Liberation war.
The awards to Gogoi and Keshubhai Patel stand out. The BJP had fought a bitter political battle with Gogoi; Patel himself had to make way for Modi as Gujarat CM in 2001. Paswan has been conferred the award following an election in Bihar where the BJP-JD(U) combine barely scraped through with Paswan’s LJP, led by his son Chirag following his death, breaking away from the alliance fighting against JD(U).
Abe was responsible for the transformation of the relationship between India and Japan in the last eight years. The relationship grew and encompassed issues from civilian nuclear energy to maritime security, bullet trains to quality infrastructure, Act East policy to Indo-Pacific strategy.
B B Lal, who turns 100 in May this year, served as Archaeological Survey of India Director-General from 1968 to 1972. In 1975-76, Lal investigated the Ayodhya site. In fact, in the recent Supreme Court verdict, an ASI report released in 2003 played a key role. The report had stated that remains of a “Hindu structure” were found at the disputed Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi site. Lal’s findings were key to this report.
Celebrating the frontline fighters against the pandemic, quite a few doctors were conferred Padma awards. They include J N Pande, V. Thiruvengadam and Krishna Mohan Pathi.
Pande, who died of Covid last year, was the head of the AIIMS Medicine Department and an eminent pulmonologist. Thiruvengadam was popularly known as “two rupees doctor” in Tamil Nadu for treating poor patients. He died in August last year. Pathi is a noted orthopaedic surgeon from Odisha known for his landmark work in tribal districts of the state.
Sanjida Khatun from Bangladesh, who has been conferred Padma Shri, is a musicologist. She played a key role in Rabindranath Tagore’s centenary celebrations in 1961 during the stringent martial law imposed by General Ayub Khan in then East Pakistan (now Bangladesh). She also rallied Bengali artistes in the cause of Bangladesh’s freedom before as well as during the liberation war.
At a time when government is claiming to be in the final stages of Naga talks, it has awarded the Padma Shri to Naga singer from Manipur Rewben Mashangva. Peter Brook, British theatre and film director, who in 1989 made the film Mahabharata, has also been awarded Padma Shri.Veteran Gujarati film star-turned-politician Naresh Kanodia and his brother singer Mahesh Kanodia, who died in October within days of each other, were awarded the Padma Shri.
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