India, with noble intentions, started conferring ‘Padma’ awards to deserving people from various walks of life. The ‘Padma’ awards were instituted during the period 1954-55.
The ‘Padma Shri’ awards were given to persons with ‘distinguished service’ to their name in their chosen fields, be it arts, music, science, engineering, sports, medicine, social service etc. Though the ‘distinguished service’ got diluted over the years, people used to say that India had conferred Padma Shri awards in alphabetical order and each one had to await his turn. We saw at times deserving persons were left out of the list and undeserving ‘posers’ got the awards. The Padma Shri awards were given to such persons who were ‘socially’ active with minimal political influence.
The ‘Padma Bhushan ‘awards were given to persons with ‘distinguished service’ of high order in their chosen fields. These awards were, normally recommended by the government to the Awards Committee to satisfy its political ‘clients’. The government also (without much choice) recommends artists and scientists who were known and deservedly popular. The awards were given to persons who were not only socially active but politically near the Power Centre. Generally, people are of the opinion that ‘distinguished service’ meant that persons who canvass for such awards should be loyal and serve their political masters!
The ‘Padma Vibhushan’ awards were given to the persons who did exceptional and distinguished service which were appreciated at the world level. People now feel that these awards are diluted so much that this blurs the distinction between Padma Bhushan and Padma Vibhushan awards. With few exceptions, the rest of the people who were conferred Padma Vibhushan awards have had strong political links. This aberration caused few deserving candidates to have reportedly rejected the awards. On earlier occasions some of the highly qualified persons felt whether to receive such awards from (few) undistinguished Presidents of India was an honour at all!
Coming to the highest civilian award which is ‘Bharat Ratna’, so far forty five magnificent people have been conferred with the same. The entire Nation knew only six of them deserved the awards and the rest of them were conferred because of their political affiliations. The politics behind awarding ‘Bharat Ratna’ has now descended to such low levels, some sections of the people have started demanding quota or reservation for the suppressed class. Few other sections of the people in spite of the corruption, misdemeanor and all round misdeeds of their leaders, ludicrously shout and canvass that the highest civilian award is conferred on their leaders
People have started feeling that at some point in time, some sections will start demanding ‘Bharat Ratna’ for the following persons for their exemplary and distinguished service (!). The first name which leaps to the mind is Sandalwood Veerappan (posthumously) for his generous services and in the way he adopted few villages and made the villagers prosper. These good deeds of Sandalwood Veerappan led to several thousand villagers lead a decent life. The second name which might be backed by few sections of the people all over India, is Vijay Mallya, the business tycoon. His business acumen is of very high order and due to his untiring efforts he gave respectable jobs for two lakhs twenty thousand people both directly and indirectly. The entire industries segment will back his nomination. He went on to become Rajya Sabha member and served his state meticulously. Being a colourful personality, he is known all over the world. The third person in the list is the ever green leader Lalu Prasad Yadav. The former Chief Minister of Bihar deserves the highest civilian award ‘Bharat Ratna’ for several years now, not with- standing the fact that he was jailed, due to political conspiracy. His untiring efforts have yielded results and he constantly serves ten crore people of India and intermittently serves fifty crore Indians with-out expecting anything in return! He is a proven leader of the masses for the past fifty six years.
The fourth person has to wait till these three richly deserving people are recommended to the highest civilian award which is ‘Bharat Ratna’ !
The author is a retired scientist of ISRO. He has a keen interest in lesser known Indian, especially Tamil patriots and scientists