As a citizen of India, I was elated to see the list of Padma Awardees this year. Unlike the regular list, this one was not crowded with popular figures from Bollywood, FICCI, Lutyens or Indian cricket team. Apart from Illyaraja , MS Dhoni and Pankaj Advani, most of the awardees are less known people who have excelled in their own spheres. They are no where close to the power centers/lobbies/wheeler dealers of Delhi. Finally, I feel that the common man has been honored on the 69th Republic day.
The preamble of our constitution begins with ‘We the people’ and ends with ‘give to ourselves this constitution.’ It’s true that the constitution of India intends to empower, recognise and respect every citizen irrespective of his/her background. But that impression was dying slowly and steadily. An impression had been formed that one needs to be a part of this elite circle to deserve a Padma Award. That has been corrected to some extent by the current government led by Modi
Democratisation of Padma Awards
“Remember how Padma Awards were given earlier? We brought in a ‘small’ change – people can recommend names for awards, unlike the past,” the PM had said at the champions of change event organised by NITI Aayog on August 17 2017. The fruit of this qualitative change is visible in the list of Padma awards. 15,700 nominations were received for the awards this year. The number was 18,768 last year. The result of this de-lutyenisation of Padma awards is there for us to see in 2018.
Some gems in this years list
A Gandhian from North East India, Lentina Ao Thakkar has been awarded Padma Shri this year. The awareness of freedom movement in this part of India is largely unknown to the people of India. Modi has recognised the contribution of North East freedom fighters like Rani Gadiniliu in the past. This is a welcome move.
The fact that medical services in rural India are poor is well known. In these regions, maternal and infant healthcare is essential to ensure safe deliveries. By honouring Sulagatti Narsamma, a 97 year old woman who helped expecting mothers deliver babies using her traditional knowledge, the government has recognized such unknown figures who are silently serving the people.
Primary education is of utmost importance as it shapes the future of the children of the country. By choosing Sudhanshu Biswas, who has worked selflessly for decades to provide Primary Education for children in rural parts of the country, Modi government has inspired more people to do the same in future.
Innovation is the key for future of India. Rajagopalan Vasudevan developed a method to make roads with plastic trash. He offered it for free to the government. Probably, he wouldn’t have dreamt of getting this award for his selfless deed. This recognition for a common professor brings a great deal of joy to common citizens of India.
The entire list of awardees this year is filled with remarkable people. By honoring common people of India , the country is reclaiming the space that was lost to a select elite of the country. And that is worth celebrating. Jai Hind!