Zakir Hussain, Sudha Murthy, KM Birla and Mulayam Singh among 106 Padma awardees

Padma Awards 2023 honors late Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav and former Union Minister and Karnataka Chief Minister SM Krishna with Padma Vibhushan, besides honoring many unsung heroes including Dilip Mahalanabis, who was posthumously selected for Padma Vibhushan Who was chosen to save lives by preaching. Widespread use of oral rehydration solutions.

Significantly, Balkrishna Doshi, the pioneer of modern architecture from Gujarat, who passed away a day earlier, is included as the first name in the Padma Vibhushan list. The list also includes tabla maestro Zakir Hussain and Indian-American mathematician Srinivasa Vardhan.

Padma Bhushan, the third highest civilian award, was presented to industrialist Kumar Mangalam Birla, philanthropist and Infosys Foundation Chairperson Sudha Murthy, playback singers Vani Jayaram and Suman Kalyanpur, Kannada novelist and screenwriter S L Bhairappa, Pune-based educationist Deepak Dhar, Telangana Is. based scholars Vedic scholar Swami Chinna Jeeyar, spiritual leader Kamlesh D Patel and former JNU Pro-Vice Chancellor Kapil Kapoor.

Padma awards for playback singers Vani Jayaram and Suman Kalyanpur will be seen as a belated recognition for the talented duo who got dwarfed by the towering talent of late Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhosle.

The Padma Shri’s list includes late business magnate and ace investor Rakesh Jhunjhunwala, Bollywood actress Raveena Tandon and RRR composer M M Keeravani. Recently, the song ‘Naatu Naatu’ from the blockbuster film was awarded the Golden Globe Award for Best Lyrics and is now nominated in the ‘Best Original Song’ category of the Academy Awards. Former founder chairman of Rasna Group Ariz Khambatta (posthumous), mathematician Anand Kumar of Super-30 program and former BJP Manipur state unit president and ex-Union minister Thounaojam Chouba Singh are other interesting names in the list.

The Padma Vibhushan award for Mulayam Yadav, a formidable foe of the BJP who also rose to fame with the prime minister, is part of a pattern where the Narendra Modi government has reached out across the aisle to bestow civilian honors on BJP rivals. Initially, Sharad Pawar and former Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi were awarded the Padma Vibhushan and Padma Bhushan respectively.

Another Padma Bhushan awardee this year, SM Krishna headed the Congress government in Karnataka apart from serving as External Affairs Minister in the UPA government before switching to the BJP in 2017.

Of the 106 Padma Awards announced on the eve of this Republic Day, six are Padma Vibhushan, 9 Padma Bhushan and 91 Padma Shri. Nine of the awardees are women while two persons are from the category of Foreigners/NRI/PIO/OCI. Seven people have been honored posthumously. Of the 106 awards, a dozen have been given to individuals from Maharashtra, followed by eight each from Gujarat, Karnataka and UP.

In the sports category, former Indian cricket team coach Gurcharan Singh, Kalarippayattu exponent SRD Prasad Gurukkal and Manipur martial art Thang Ta Guru’s Shanathoiba Sharma have been named for the Padma Shri.

As in previous years since 2014 when the Modi government took office, this list is a conscious effort to broaden the pool by expanding it to include those working in villages, among tribals and to promote folk arts and traditional arts and crafts.

At the helm is Padma Vibhushan awardee Dilip Mahalanabis, who during his lifetime pioneered the widespread use of ORS, estimated to have saved over 50 million lives globally. The effectiveness of ORS was demonstrated by the Mahalanabis of West Bengal while serving in refugee camps during the Bangladesh Liberation War of 1971.

Among the other 25 unsung heroes in the Padma Shri list, 79-year-old Kakinada-based social worker Sankurthri Chandra Shekhar has dedicated his life to providing free medical and education services to the needy. After losing his wife and two children in the Air India Kanishka bombing, he turned his grief into a lifelong commitment to the betterment of society. He played a vital role in treating more than three lakh eye patients and 90% surgeries were free.

While one of the Padma Shri awardees is over 100, two are shy of a century. Mangala Kanti Roy, a 102-year-old Sarinda player from Jalpaiguri, brings out the unique sounds of birds through Sarinda, a folk musical instrument. V P Appukuttan Poduval, popularly known as Gandhi of Kannur, is a 99-year-old freedom fighter and Gandhian from Payyannur, Kerala. After participating in the Quit India Movement of 1942, he has been a supporter of Khadi and is a noted Sanskrit scholar. Tula Ram Upreti (98) is a self-sufficient small farmer and has been doing organic farming for the last six decades using only traditional methods.

Ratan Chandra Kar, a retired government doctor from Andaman, works with the Jarawa tribe that lives in North Sentinel Island.

He treated the Jarawas during the 1999 measles epidemic, reducing the death rate which helped their population grow from 76 to 270.

Other Good Samaritan awardees include Hirabai Lobi, a Siddi tribal from Gujarat, who has worked all her life for the Siddi community, providing education to her children through the kindergarten she set up. Interestingly, she herself was orphaned at a young age. War veteran and Jabalpur-based doctor Munishwar Chander Davar has been honored for treating the underprivileged for the last five decades. He charges Rs 20 from his poor patients, increasing it from Rs 2 that he used to charge till 2010.

Artists inducted into the Padma Shri list include santoor craftsman Ghulam Muhammad Jaz, from a family of fine santoor makers for the past 200 years; Kalamkari artist Bhanubhai Chitara from Gujarat; and Pithora artist Paresh Rathwa of Chhota Udaipur, Gujarat. Parshuram Komaji Khune, a folk theater artist from Maharashtra who has worked for the rehabilitation of stray youth in Left Wing Extremism affected areas by connecting them with folk culture; Chhattisgarh Natya Naach artist Domar Singh Kunwar; And Naga musician Moa Subong, who developed a new and easier way of playing the instrument made of bamboo, has also been awarded the Padma Shri.

Artists and linguists working to preserve endangered arts and languages have also been awarded the Padma Shri. These include Janum Singh Soy, a 72-year-old retired professor from Jharkhand who has been working for four decades to preserve the Ho language; Dhaniram Toto of Jalpaiguri, West Bengal, the architect of the Toto language script; and B Ramakrishna Reddy from Telangana who is working to preserve tribal and southern languages like Kuvi, Manda and Kui.