At a time agrarian issues have taken centre stage in the country’s politics, the central government has announced Padma awards for 12 farmers, including two women, from nine states. Kamala Pujhari, Rajkumari Devi, Babulal Dahiya and Hukumchand Patidar have been conferred the prestigious award for conserving old, traditional seeds and promoting organic farming.
Kamala Pujhari has been preserving local varieties of paddy and promoting organic farming in Odisha. Known as ‘Kisan Chachi’, Rajkumari Devi has been helping the rural population with tips on kitchen farming and developing agro-based products for business. Bharat Bhushan Tyagi, Ram Saran Verma and Venkateswara Rao Yadlapalli adopted technology and scientific methods in cultivation. Two other farmers were selected for work in animal husbandry.
Congratulating the awardees, Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu tweeted, “Agriculture is the basic foundation of our culture and needs to be continuously strengthened. Glad that the Government has recognized its centrality to the India’s inclusive growth story.”
This year the President approved 112 Padma awards. The list comprises 4 Padma Vibhushan, 14 Padma Bhushan and 94 Padma Shri awards. Among the awardees, 21 are women, 11 are from the category of foreigners/ NRI/PIO/OCI, one transgender and three posthumous.
Among the awardees for work in gau seva is Friederike Irina from Germany, known as Sudevi Mataji, who started a cowshed for abandoned and sick cows. Mathura’s Ramesh Babaji Maharaj, a seer, has been doing work in animal welfare, particularly for cows in UP. Shabbir Sayyad of Marathwada was selected in the same category of gau seva.
For serving the poor and fighting diseases affecting common man, 14 doctors from 11 states have been selected. They include Omesh Kumar Bharti (working against rabies), Sudam Kate (sickle cell disease), Ramaswami Venkataswami (reconstruction surgery of burns) and Pratap Singh Hardia (cataract and myopia).
Nine sportspersons from nine disciplines, including cricketer Gautam Gambhir and wrestler Bajrang Punia, are in sports category.
Among the awardees from the public affairs category was veteran farmer leader and former Union agriculture minister Hukumdev Narayan Yadav, a six-time Lok Sabha member of BJP from Bihar. For social work, 16 individuals have been awarded. They include Jyoti Kumar Sinha for educating children of the Mahadalit Musahar community of eastern India, Rajani Kant of Varanasi for efforts in getting GI tag for handicraft work in UP.
For conviction and service, Daitari Naik, a poor farmer, has been selected for single-handedly carving out a 3-km canal with hoe and crowbar to bring water to his villages; and Devarapalli Prakash Rao, a tea-seller who built a school for slum children.
There are nine writers and journalists in the list, including former The Indian Express editor late Kuldip Nayar, Nagindas Sanghavi and late Devendra Swarup. A former pracharak of RSS, Swarup had served as editor of Panchjanya.
For Padma awards 2019, there were a record 50,000 nominations — 20 times the number in 2014 (2,200 nominations). A rigorous eco-system was adopted from nomination to selection.