Forty-seven prominent personalities, including Malayalam actor Mohanlal, former Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar, Akali Dal leader Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa and renowned journalist Kuldip Nayar (posthumous), were conferred the Padma awards by President Ram Nath Kovind here on Monday.
Bihar leader Hukumdev Narayan Yadav (Padma Bhushan), former CEO of multinational techno giant Cisco systems John Chambers (Padma Bhushan) and renowned dancer and filmmaker Prabhu Deva (Padma Shri) were also honoured at a special function held at Rashtrapati Bhavan which was attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, among others.
While Viswanathan Mohanlal, Dhindsa and Nayar (posthumous) were conferred the Padma Bhushan, Jaishankar was honoured with the Padma Shri. Nayar’s wife received the award from the President.
The Padma Awards – one of the highest civilian awards of the country – are conferred in three categories: the Padma Vibhushan, the Padma Bhushan and the Padma Shri.
As many as 112 “inspiring” personalities were selected for this year’s Padma awards and their names were announced on the eve of Republic Day this year. The remaining awardees are likely to be conferred the honour at another function to be held on March 16, a Home Ministry official said.
Other notable awardees include renowned singer Shankar Mahadevan Narayan (Padma Shri), former Deputy Speaker of Lok Sabha Karia Munda (Padma Bhushan), physicians Sandeep Guleria and Ilias Ali (both Padma Shri) and wrestler Bajrang Punia (Padma Shri).
This year’s awardees are from across the nation, all segments of society and the government has gone beyond excellence alone, recognising larger impact and their selfless service, an official said.
The nomination process for Padma awards was made online in 2016 and a simple, accessible and secure platform was put in place to encourage citizens at large to participate. Erstwhile ‘Government Awards’ transformed into ‘Peoples Awards’, another official said.
A record 50,000 nominations were received for the 2019 awards, over 20 times more than 2014, when there were just 2,200 nominations.
The technological intervention has made the nomination process accessible to the people at large and the emphasis of the government to confer Padma awards on unsung heroes, who are doing selfless service for the nation, have resulted into the above transformation. This is reflected in the awardees selected with an eclectic list, covering diverse fields, the official said.