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Padma awards: Meet Kerala’s four winners, from RSS ideologue to doctor who treats the terminally ill

P Parameswaran, who was conferred the Padma Vibhushan, is one of the seniormost pracharaks of the RSS, while Philipose Mar Chrysostom, who received the Padma Bhushan, is one of the oldest serving priests in the world.

india Updated: Jan 26, 2018 17:32 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Thiruvananthapuram
Padma awards,Padma awards Kerala,P Parameswaran
A total of 85 eminent people from the fields of art, social work, public affairs, science, trade and industry, medicine, literature and education, civil service and sports were conferred the Padma awards this year. (HT File Photo)

The government announced the Padma awards, one of the highest civilian recognitions in the country, on Friday to honour people who have made an exceptional contribution in their respective fields of work.

Four eminent personalities from Kerala have been recognised for their work, ranging from Literature and Education to Spiritualism, Medicine-Traditional and Medicine-Palliative Care.

P Parameswaran (Padma Vibhushan)

Thinker, writer, orator and institution builder, P Parameswaran is one of the seniormost pracharaks or functionaries of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) from south India. The 91-year-old became a pracharak in 1950 and also dabbled in politics for some time — he was the vice president and general secretary of the erstwhile Jan Sangh. He left politics and immersed himself in philosophy and spirituality.

He founded the Bharatiya Vichar Kendram, a social and spiritual research centre, and is also one of the founders of the International Forum for India’s Heritage and director of the Vivekananda Kendra. A scholar revered even by opponents, he has authored more than 50 books, including Marx and Vivekananda and Narayana Guru, the Prophet of Renaissance. He was awarded the Padma Shri in 2014.

Philipose Mar Chrysostom (Padma Bhushan)

Affectionately called Valiya Thirumeni or the supreme priest, the 101-year-old metropolitan bishop of the Marthoma Syrian Church is known for his witty comments and jokes. One of the oldest serving priests in the world, he was ordained in 1944. Though retired, he is still very active and attends social functions.

He wrote in his autobiography that he once wanted to become a railway porter. He noticed a rude porter in Tamil Nadu’s Jolarpettai junction when he was 28 years old. The agitated porter challenged him to work as one to experience poverty and misery. He agreed to spend a month with the porter and said it was one of the most gratifying periods in his life.

Lakshmikutty Amma (Padma Shri)

Tribal healer Lakshmikutty Amma, also known as Vanamuthassi or the grand old lady of forests, has been treating patients in her hut deep in the forests of Vithura in Thiruvananthapuram district.

The 74-year-old was the first tribal girl from her area to attend school in the 1950s but dropped out after Class 8. She was attracted to traditional medicine and her parents trained her well. She makes more than 500 herbal medicines and has treated thousands of patients in the last six decades.

She came to the limelight when the state government conferred the Nattu Vaidya Ratnam award on her in 1995. She teaches at the Kerala Folklore Academy and lectures on natural medicine.

Dr MR Rajagopal (Padma Shri)

He is a messiah for the terminally ill. Moved by the pain and agony of such patients, Rajagopal (70) left his lucrative medical practice to study pain-care medicine. He set up the country’s first palliative care unit in Kozhikode in 1993.

The founder of Pallium India and director of the Trivandrum Institute of Palliative Sciences, he toiled to make palliative care like any other stream of medicine in the country. Now, more than 100 palliative care centres function in the state and outside.

First Published: Jan 26, 2018 17:32 IST