India's first Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat, veteran Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad and former Uttar Pradesh chief minister and Hindutva poster boy late Kalyan Singh are among many who would receive the prestigious Padma awards. Like every year, the Ministry of Home Affairs announces the awardees of India’s highest civilian award on the eve of Republic Day. The Padma awards are conferred in three categories, namely, Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan and Padma Shri. The Awards are given in various disciplines/ fields of activities, viz.- art, social work, public affairs, science and engineering, trade and industry, medicine, literature and education, sports, civil service, etc.
What are the Padma awards?
‘Padma Vibhushan’ is awarded for exceptional and distinguished service; ‘Padma Bhushan’ for distinguished service of high order and ‘Padma Shri’ for distinguished service in any field.
The Padma awards were first constituted in 1954 along with India’s highest civilian award, Bharat Ratna. The Padma awards have been given every year since their institution, except on three occasions -- between 1978 and 1979 and 1993 to 1997.
Earlier, the awards were called Pahela Varg, Dusra Varg and Tisra Varg. Over the years, it was renamed Padma Vibhushan (second-highest), Padma Bhushan (third-highest) and Padma Shri (fourth-highest) by a Presidential Notification in 1955.
Who confers the Padma awards?
These awards are conferred by the President of India at ceremonial functions which are held at Rashtrapati Bhawan usually around March or April every year. The awardees are recommended by the Padma Awards Committee, which is constituted by the Prime Minister every year. The Padma Awards Committee is headed by the Cabinet Secretary and includes Home Secretary, Secretary to the President and four to six eminent persons as members. The recommendations of the committee are submitted to the Prime Minister and the President of India for approval.
What is given as part of the Padma awards?
The recipients receive a certificate signed by the President along with a medallion. They are also given a replica of the same, which they can wear to any state function and the names are published on the Gazette of India on a ceremonial day. The recipients enjoy certain perks including travel via state-owned carriers during official ceremonies. However, the awards don’t come with any cash prize and title.
How are the nominations made?
The recommendations made by state governments, Union Territories, central government ministries and departments are sought between May 1 and September 15 every year. Private organisations can also put forward their recommendations and self-nominations can also be made.
However, the main criteria are “lifetime achievement” and the award is not merely given for long services to any field, perhaps, for special services.
In a 2018 notification, the government made it mandatory that the nominations be filed online with an 800-word citation describing the exceptional services offered by the nominee.
Who are eligible to receive the awards?
Any citizen of India irrespective of their race, occupation, position or sex is eligible for the awards. However, government servants including those working with PSUs, except doctors and scientists, are not eligible for these awards.
The awards are given to people having rendered distinguished services in the fields of art, social work, civil services, sports, public affairs and so on.
The total number of awards to be given in a year is limited to 120, however, excluding posthumous awards and to NRI, foreigners and overseas citizens (OCI).
Who are the recipients of the 2022 Padma awards?
This year the President has approved the conferment of 128 Padma Awards including two duo cases. The list comprises four Padma Vibhushan, 17 Padma Bhushan and 107 Padma Shri Awards. Among them, 34 of the awardees are women and the list also includes 10 persons from the category of foreigners, NRI and OCI and 13 Posthumous awardees.
Cyrus Poonawalla of the Serum Institute of India, which manufactured COVID-19 vaccine Covishield, and Krishna Ella and Suchitra Ella of Bharat Biotech, which produced India's indigenous coronavirus vaccine Covaxin, were also given Padma Bhushan.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and Google CEO Sundar Pichai were conferred Padma Bhushan, the third-highest civilian award.
Late Punjabi folk singer Gurmeet Bawa, actor Victor Banerjee and former Union Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi have been awarded Padma Bhushan.
Olympic gold medallist Neeraj Chopra and singer Sonu Nigam were awarded Padma Shri.
(with PTI inputs)