The President of India gave away the Padma Awards at a special function on March 28. These awards which were announced on the eve of Republic day in January were finally handed over by the President at a glittering event. So you could ask what’s so special about these awards and why do we need to devote a chunk of the web space to discuss them. Well for the first time in a very long time, I feel the Padma awards brought many deserving faces to the front and perhaps justified the true purpose of one of the highest civilian awards in history.
These awards which were instituted with the sole purpose of acknowledging the contribution of our citizens in the fields of art, science, social work, public affairs, medicine, literature, sports, educations, trade and industry and many others had often be reduced to be pawns in the politician’s game plan and many deserving candidates often lagged behind simply because they did not have enough lobbyists to take up their cause.
For the first time in a very long time, this award moved past the page 3 and perhaps made effort to connect with the common man, the average voters and the luminaries around them who did not have PR machineries overtime announcing their amazing feat. Take the case of Haladhar Nag, a prominent poet and writer from Odisha getting the Padma Shri award this year. Hand on heart how many of you knew about him. A Kosli language poet, he is revered across western Orissa and renowned for his contribution to further the cause of Koshali poet. Lok Kabi Ratna to many, a messiah to lot, this poet crusader had been instrumental in bringing forth a new style of poetry, Haladhar Dhara. BBC made a documentary on him but we get to meet the great man just hours ago on TV screens.
The next recipient I want to tell you about is Gulabo Sapera. She is a renowned musical artists from Rajasthan. A book has been written on her and her tryst with female infanticide in Rajasthan, she even featured in a reality show, Bigg Boss but only in 2016 the country acknowledged her efforts by conferring the Padma Award.
The next person I want to name is perhaps not very obscure. For foodies he is the Reigning King of the Kitchen, the Badshah of Gourmet food and the man who was instrumental in getting Indian cuisine on the global map. Yes I am talking about Chef Mohd Imtiaz Qureshi. His exploits, the Dum Pukht, the Bukhara have not just brought the ITC fame but also taken Indian cuisine to a new height. Far less talked about and way less publicised, finally this mild mannered Septugenerian with those trade mark handle bar moustaches was awarded the honour that was his due many moons ago.
Some other lesser known Indians who have been silently doing their bit include ‘Padma Shri’ Bhikhudan Gadhvi, a veteran folk artists from Gujarat and Dahyabhai Shastri a noted litterateur. The world of science too saw honour being conferred upon some unsung heroes like neurologist Dr Sudhir V Shah and Scientist Onkar Nath Srivastava.
Even in the field of sports, while we cannot think beyond our national obsession, Cricket, many other sportsperson are silently bringing the country a lot more honour and recognition. Some of them include Saina Nehwal, former world no.1 in Women’s Badminton and Archer Deepika Kumari.
Perhaps it is appropriate to end it in the words of another well deserving candidate in this year’s Padma Awards, Anupam Kher. ‘Jai Hind.’ Indeed more power to the nation and more power to these silent crusaders.