Padma awards: Unsung heroes get their place in the sun
In a welcome move, the Modi government on Wednesday decided to confer the fourth highest civilian award to 10-12 unsung heroes.
This year's list of the awards has thrown up many surprises as the government decided to recognise the contribution of lesser known figures for their pioneering work in diverse fields like medicine, agriculture and sanitation, among others. This is the first time when the Modi-led government has looked beyond just celebrity doctors to honour some relatively unknown doctors who have dedicated their lives to the poor. Curiously, not even a single doctor from Delhi has made it to the list, which is a departure from the norm.
91-year-old Bhakti Yadav from Indore, popularly known as 'Doctor Dai' has made the list of Padma awardees. She has been selflessly treating patients free of cost for the past seven decades.
"Granny with a sword", 76-year-old Meenakshi Amma from Kerala, who began her martial art classes at the age of seven, has also been chosen for Padma Shri. She is the country's oldest woman Kalaripayattu exponent and has been practising and teaching martial arts for more than 68 years.
Another person chosen for Padma Shri, Chintakindi Mallesham from Telangana, invented Laxmi ASU machine to reduce the time and menial labour required to weave Pochampalli silk sarees.
His invention impacted 60 per cent of looms engaged in weaving Pochampalli. A school dropout, 44-year-old Mallesham had created the machine to relieve his mother's pain. Daripalli Ramaiah, 68, knows as Chetla Ramaiah or "The Tree Man" from Telangana has also been selected for Padma Shri.
Ramaiah is a common man who has dedicated his life to make India green by planting over one crore trees. He takes out seeds from his pocket and plants them wherever he sees a barren spot.
Volunteer firefighter Bipin Ganatra from West Bengal has will be decorated with Padma Shri. He is the only person apart from fire brigade officials who has been to almost every fire accident site in Kolkata in the last 40 years. Dr Suniti Solomon, who diagnosed the first AIDS case in India in 1985, has figured in the Padma Shri list posthumously.
Dr Subrato Das also known as the Highway Messiah, will be honoured for setting up the Lifeline Foundation in Vadodara that provides immediate medical help to accident victims on highways.
Chandigarh-based nephrologist Dr Mukut Minz, who has several heroic feats to his credit, has also made the Padma cut.
Political stalwarts Murli Manohar Joshi, Sharad Pawar and former Lok Sabha speaker P A Sangma, cricketer Virat Kohli and Carnatic musician K J Yesudas and gymnast Dipa Karmakar were also among the 89 people who were selected for this year's Padma awards.