Yoga exponent Baba Ramdev, Bharatiya Janata Party patriarch LK Advani, spiritual leader Shri Shri Ravi Shankar and veteran actors Amitabh Bachchan and Rajinikanth are among this year’s recipients of the prestigious Padma awards that recognises lifelong service to the country, according to a report in the Indian Express.
The awards this year, to be conferred on Republic Day, has several names seen as sympathetic to the ruling party, including lyricist and adman Prasoon Joshi, who worked on the BJP’s advertisement campaign for the Lok Sabha elections, and journalists Swapan Dasgupta and Rajat Sharma. Economist Bibek Debroy, a member of the newly instituted NITI Aayog, is also on the list.
Padma awards, given since 1954 on Republic Day in honour of contributions in wide-ranging pursuits, have often been subject of controversy due to the arbitrary nature of the selection process and inevitable charges of favouritism by the government and the ruling party. They are given in three categories--Padma Shri, Padma Bhushan and Padma Vibhushan, in ascending order of distinction. It's unclear which names have been picked for which awards.
Punjab Chief Minister Prakash Singh Badal and Advani are the only two politicians in the list of 148 recipients, the Express report stated.
Yoga exponent Ramdev, whose dedicated yoga television channel and camps are popular, is nonetheless a controversial figure, having said in the past that he can "cure" homosexuality, among other things. His company Patanjali Ayurveda makes consumer products such as soaps, oil and breakfast cereals and in five years had sales worth Rs. 450 crore, with a turnover expected to touch Rs. 2,000 crore.
Actor Dilip Kumar, director Sanjay Leela Bhansali and scriptwriter Salim Khan, badminton player P V Sindhu, wrestler Sushil Kumar and Arunima Sinha, the first woman amputee mountaineer to climb Mount Everest, are among those honoured.
Badminton player Saina Nehwal, who had kicked up a storm about not being nominated and was subsequently included in the list of contenders, has not been awarded, if reports are accurate. The official list is expected to be out today or tomorrow.
T V Mohandas Pai, the Chairman of Manipal Global Education and a former director of Infosys, shares the honour with
former bureaucrat N Gopalaswami (ex chief election commissioner), K S Bajpai and P V Rajaraman.
Eminent vocalists Sudha Raghunathan, A Kanyakumari, Girija Devi and Malini Awasthi, actor Smriti Biswas, music directors Anu Malik and Ravindra Jain and Assamese film director Jahnu Barua are said to be on the list. This year two scientists from ISRO--S Arunan of the Mars Mission and S K Shivkumar of Chandrayaan--will also be felicitated, the Express report said.