India’s first Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Bipin Rawat and former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Kalyan Singh were posthumously awarded Padma Vibhushan in the civilian honours announced by the government on the eve of 73rd Republic Day.
The list of 128 Padma awardees includes Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad, former West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, Bharat Biotech Chairman Krishna Ella and co-founder Suchitra Ella, Serum Institute of India Managing Director Cyrus Poonawalla and Olympic gold medallist Neeraj Chopra, singer Sonu Nigam, late Punjabi folk singer Gurmeet Bawa, former Union Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi, Chairman and CEO of Microsoft Corporation Satya Nadella and Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai. General Rawat was headed to Defence Services Staff College in Wellington to address the faculty and student officers of the Staff Course when his chopper crashed in Tamil Nadu in December last. He was India’s longest-serving four-star General. General Rawat’s wife Madhulika Rawat and twelve other defence force personnel had also died in the helicopter crash.
Apart from General Rawat (Civil Service) and Kalyan Singh (Public Affairs), the other Padma Vibushan awardees are late Radheyshyam Khemka (Literature and Education) and Prabha Atre (Art). There are 17 Padma Bhushan awardees and 107 Padma Shri awardees across various disciplines. The Padma Bhushan awardees are – Ghulam Nabi Azad, actor Victor Banerjee, Punjabi singer Gurmeet Bawa, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, Natarajan Chandrasekaran, Krishna Ella and Suchitra Ella, Madhur Jaffery, Devendra Jhajharia, Rashid Khan, Rajiv Mehrishi, Satya Narayana Nadella, Sundararajan Pichai, Cyrus Poonawalla, Sanjaya Rajaram (posthumous), Pratibha Ray, Swami Sachidanand and Vashishth Tripathi.
Neeraj Chopra, who won a gold medal in Javelin in Tokyo Olympics last year, will be conferred Padma Shri. Singer Sonu Nigam will also be conferred Padma Shri.
Thirty-four of the awardees are women and the list also includes 10 persons from the category of foreigners/NRI/PIO/OCI. There are 13 posthumous awardees. Padma Awards are conferred in three categories – Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan and Padma Shri. The awards are given in various disciplines, fields of activities including art, social work, public affairs, science and engineering, trade and industry, medicine, literature and education, sports and civil service.
‘Padma Vibhushan’ is awarded for exceptional and distinguished service, ‘Padma Bhushan’ for distinguished service of high order and ‘Padma Shri’ for distinguished service in any field. The awards are announced on the occasion of Republic Day every year. The awards are conferred by the President of India at ceremonial functions which are held at Rashtrapati Bhawan usually around March and April every year.