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Friday, January 26, 2018

Padma Awards 2018

Padma Awards 2018 have been announced.  I am happy reading the list of recipients.  On earlier occasions, I had posted  on a different perspective. I have always believed that the National honours have to be more on what they have done for the Nation and that way Cine artistes should not hog such limelight than Scientists, Social workers and those who have toiled to change the Society.  Yet, this year’s list makes me feel very happy**

Padma Awards 2018 have been announced.  The Padma Awards are one of the highest civilian honours of India announced annually on the eve of Republic Day. The Awards are given in three categories: Padma Vibhushan (for exceptional and distinguished service), Padma Bhushan (distinguished service of higher order) and Padma Shri (distinguished service). The awards seek to recognize achievements in all fields of activities or disciplines where an element of public service is involved.

The Government of India instituted two civilian awards-Bharat Ratna & Padma Vibhushan in 1954. The latter had three classes namely Pahela Varg, Dusra Varg and Tisra Varg. These were subsequently renamed as Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan and Padma Shri vide Presidential Notification issued on January 8, 1955. All persons without distinction of race, occupation, position or sex are eligible for these awards. However, Government servants including those working with PSUs, except doctors and scientists, are not eligible for these Awards. The awards are normally not conferred posthumously. However, there have been exceptions.  The general rule is that a  higher category of Padma award can be conferred on a person only where a period of at least five years has elapsed since conferment of the earlier Padma award. However, in highly deserving cases, a relaxation can be made by the Awards Committee.

The awards are presented by the President of India usually in the month of March/April every year where the awardees are presented a Sanad (certificate) signed by the President and a medallion. The recipients are also given a small replica of the medallion, which they can wear during any ceremonial/State functions etc., if the awardees so desire. The names of the awardees are published in the Gazette of India on the day of the presentation ceremony. The total number of awards to be given in a year (excluding posthumous awards and to  NRI/ foreigners /OCIs) should not be more than 120. The awards do  not amount to a title and cannot be used as a suffix or prefix to the awardees’ name.

Nation’s President Ram Nath Kovind on Thursday approved conferment of 85 Padma awards which include three Padma Vibhushan, nine Padma Bhushan and 73 Padma Shri awards.  

Padma Vibhushan  :  Isaignani Illaiyaraja; Ghulam Mustafa Khan & P. Parameswaran
Padma Bhushan :  Pankaj Advani; Philipose Mar Chrysostom; Mahendra Singh Dhoni; Alexander Kadakin (Foreigner/Posthumous);R. Nagaswamy; Ved Prakash Nanda (Overseas Citizen of India); Laxman Pai; Arvind Parikh ; Sharda Sinha
Ilayaraja : pic credit my friend Joseph Raja

From specialists in music to wildlife conservation, six persons from Tamil Nadu have found a place for their distinguished work in a range of fields on the Padma Awards list.  We grew up hearing Isaignani whose entry into the field with ‘machanai paathingala’ was grand. It was a marked departure from the days of MSV, KV Mahadevan, Shankar Ganesh to Ilaya Raja.. ..  .. though not a regular cinema buff, I was fascinated to hearing ‘andhi mazhai pozhigirathu …’ the violin that mesmerized – Ilayaraja combined folk rhythms with film music – my earlier favourites would include Nandooruthu (Bhairavi); Metti oli karrada; akkarai Cheemai; Sri Ramanin srideviye (Priya); amma nee sumantha pillai (Annai Oru alayam); all songs of Nizhalgal and Kadhal Oviyam and more … those were the days when otherwise ordinary films too would run because of the music of the maestro.  That way, conferment of Padma Vibushan is most liked by his fans like me.  He has always been a very humble person after composing for more than 1000 movies in several languages.  He is quoted as saying that   he believed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government had honoured Tamil Nadu and its people by conferring on him the Padma Vibhushan award.

Some of the other eminent awardees include Mr Ramachandran Nagaswamy (Padma Bhushan) who had   served as the Director of the Tamil Nadu Archaeology Department,  instrumental in starting several regional, district and site museums, as well as initiating the famous Chidambaram Natyanjali festival. An accomplished epigraphist and international expert in south Indian bronzes, Mr. Nagaswamy appeared as an expert witness in the London High Court in the famous London Nataraja Case where he was described in the judgment as an unequalled expert in his subject.

At 98 years of age, V. Nanammal from Coimbatore, regarded as one of the oldest yoga teachers in the country, will be given the Padma Shri. A teacher at the Ozone Yoga Centre, which she founded in 1972, Ms. Nanammal has trained lakhs of students who have gone on to win laurels at international competitions.  Another is , 72-year-old R. Vasudevan, dean, Thiagarajar College of Engineering, Madurai.  Well known among the residents of his city as the 'Plastic Man of India' he evolved a technology which enables the use of plastic waste in road construction.

Romulus Whitaker, founder of the Madras Snake Park, who also set up the Madras Crocodile Bank Trust, has been awarded the Padma Shri for his work in wildlife conservation. Smt. Vijayalakshmi Navaneethakrishnan, an acclaimed Tamil folk artist, too has been recognised with the Padma Shri for the collection, documentation and preservation of Tamil folk and tribal music. The folk exponent, who is a retired professor from the Madurai Kamaraj University, had been with the Department of Folk Arts and Culture and was instrumental in coming up with a Tamil folk art encyclopedia.

Lakshmikutty, a tribal woman from Kerala, who prepares 500 herbal medicine from memory and help thousands of people especially in snake and insect bite cases, is among the awardees.  West Bengal’s Sudhanshu Biswas, a 99-year-old freedom fighter who serves poor, runs school and orphanages and set up free school for poor, is among the winners. Kerala’s medical messiah to terminally ill, MR Rajagopal, has  been honoured with Padma Shri. Rajagopal has specialised in pain relief care for neonatal cases.  The list further includes : Maharashtra’s Murlikant Petkar, India’s first paralympic gold medalist, who lost his arm in 1965 India-Pakistan war; Subhasini Mistry, a poor lady from rural West Bengal, who toiled 20 years as housemaid and daily labourer to build a hospital for poor in the state; Nonagenarian farm labourer Sulagatti Narasamma, who provides midwifery services in backward region of Karnataka without any medical facility; Yeshi Dhoden, monk physician of Tibetan herbal medicine working in remote areas of Himachal Pradesh.

Hail the awardees

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
26th Jan 2018.


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