BJP veteran and former deputy prime minister L K Advani, Punjab CM Parkash Singh Badal, Bollywood icons Dilip Kumar and Amitabh Bachchan and leader of Ismaili sect of Muslims Karim Al Hussaini Aga Khan have been awarded the Padma Vibhushan, the second highest civilian honour after the Bharat Ratna. The Padma Bhushan awardees include Microsoft founder and philanthropist Bill Gates and his wife Melinda Gates, who have donated billions towards healthcare in India.
The honours list includes Jagadguru Ramanandacharya Srinivasan of Tulsi Peeth, Shivakumara Swami of Siddaganga Mutt in Tumkur, Swami Satyamitranand Giri who founded Bharat Mata Mandir in Haridwar and Portugal-based yoga guru Jagat Guru Arta Suyananda Maha Raja. The list of “spiritual gurus“ would have been longer but for the refusal of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and Ramdev. Of the 104 Padma award winners announced on Republic Day eve, nine were conferred the Padma Vibhushan, 20 were named for Padma Bhushan and 75 for Padma Shri.
The list includes 17 women, with the highlight being the presence of four women among the total six awardees in the sports category. Also, in a record of sorts, there are 17 awardees in the category of foreigners, NRIs and PIOs.
In the latter bracket, for Padma Bhushan, are Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s Japanese associate Saichiro Misumi, whom PM Modi had met in Tokyo last year, and US-based Sanskrit scholar David Frawley, who is also known as Vamadeva.
The Padma Vibhushan awardees include Dr Veerjendra Heggade of Karnataka (for social work), Prof Malur Ramasamy Srinivasan of Tamil Nadu (science & engineering) and legal luminary K K Venugopal (public affairs).
The Padma Bhushan list features former Solicitor General Harish Salve, constitutional expert Subhash C Kashyap and former chief election commissioner N Gopalaswami. Assamese film maker Jahnu Barua, journalists Rajat Sharma and Swapan Dasgupta, Hindustani classical vocalist Pandit Gokulotsavji Maharaj, Carnatic vocalist Sudha Ragunathan, wrestling coach Satpal and geologist Kharag Singh Valdiya have also been conferred the country’s third highest civilian award. Indian-origin mathematician Manjul Bhargava, too, is on the list.
The sports category features four women including badminton player P V Sindhu, cricketer Mithali Raj, hockey player Saba Anjum and the first female amputee to climb Mt Everest Arunima Singh. Wresting coach Satpal and hockey team captain Sardara Singh are the only two male Padma awardees in the sports category.
The Padma winners for science medicine are computer scientist Vijay Bhatkar, cardiologist Ashok Seth, pulmonary medicine specialist Randeep Guleria, Dr Ambrish Mithal of Medanta (all Padma Bhushan); and DRDO’s Dr N Prabhakar and Dr Prahlada.
Among the 75 Padma Shri winners are late spiritual head of the Bohra Muslims Syedna Mohammad Burhanuddin, economist and Niti Aayog member Bibek Debroy, cartoonist Pran (posthumous), filmmaker Sanjay Leela Bhansali, music composer Ravindra Jain, ad man Prasoon Joshi, former NCERT chairman J S Rajput, T V Mohandas Pai, chairman of Manipal Global Education, and Gujarati columnist Tarak Mehta.
Among the foreigners awarded the Padma Shri are Chinese Indologist Huang Baosheng, French scientist Jacques Blamont, French novelist Jean-Claude Carriere, professor of Tamil language at University of California, Berkeley, George L Hart, and German Indologist Annette Schmiedchen.
The NRIs PIOs in the Padma Shri category are Indian-American economist Nandrajan “Raj” Chetty, vocalist Tripti Mukherjee; and Dr Dattatreyudu Nori, Dr Raghu Rama Pillarisetti and Dr Saumitra Rawat in the field of medicine.