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Top Padma honours for Jaitley, Sushma, George

PUBLISHED ON JAN 25, 2020 11:04 PM IST

New Delhi: Former Union ministers, the late Arun Jaitley, Sushma Swaraj and George Fernandes, were on Saturday awarded the Padma Vibhushan, the country’s second-highest civilian honour, on the eve of the Republic Day.

Olympian boxer Mary Kom, former Mauritius prime minister Anerood Jugnauth, Hindustani classical singer Chhannulal Mishra and the late Vishwesha Tirtha Swami of Pejawar Mutt were the other Padma Vibhushan awardees announced by the government on Saturday evening.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated the awardees. “Congratulations to all those who have been conferred the Padma Awards. The awardees include extraordinary individuals who have made exceptional contributions to our society, nation and humanity,” he tweeted.

According to a government statement, former Goa chief minister Manohar Parrikar, industrialists Anand Mahindra and Venu Shrinivasan, Olympian badminton player PV Sindhu, former Nagaland chief minister SC Jamir and Jammu & Kashmir politician Muzaffar Hussain Baig have been awarded the Padma Bhushan.

Baig, 73, is a former deputy chief minister and finance minister of the erstwhile state of Jammu & Kashmir. A founder leader of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Baig was among the politicians who met Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) last year after the nullification of Article 370.

“Thank Hon. @rashtrapatibhvn and Hon. PM Shri @narendramodi for the posthumous conferment of Padma Vibhushan to stalwart leaders Shri George Fernandes, Shri Arun Jaitley & Smt. Sushma Swaraj. The #PadmaAward is a true reflection of their unparalleled contribution in Indian polity,” Union minister Dharmendra Pradhan tweeted.

The Padma Shri awardees include film industry personalities Karan Johar, Ekta Kapoor and Kangana Ranaut, singers Suresh Wadkar and Adnan Sami, industrialist Bharat Goenka, British lawmaker Bob Blackman, who has consistently supported India on the Kashmir issue, founder Sanjeev Bikhchandani, technocrat Nemnath Jain, cricketer Zaheer Khan, hockey player Rani Rampal and shooter Jitu Rai.

Of the total 141 Padma Awards, seven prominent personalities were awarded the Padma Vibhushan, 16 were given the Padma Bhushan and 118 got Padma Shri on the occasion of the 71st Republic Day this year. Apart from 12 posthumous awardees, 34 are women and 18 have been given in the foreigners/NRI/PIO/OCI category, the release said.

The awardees also include unsung heroes such as Jagdish Lal Ahuja, who serves free food to patients and attendants outside PGI hospital in Chandigarh, Mohammed Sharif from Faizabad, who has performed last rites of over 25,000 unclaimed bodies, elephant doctor from Assam Kushal Konwar Sarma, Javed Ahmad Tak, a specially abled social worker from Jammu and Kashmir working for specially abled children for over two decades, providing free education, material aid and motivation to over 100 children of 40 villages in Anantnag and Pulwama.

Seventy-two-year-old Tulasi Gowda from Karnataka, who earned the sobriquet “encyclopedia of forests” because of her vast knowledge of diverse plant species in spite of lacking formal education, has also been given the award.

Among the Padma Shri awardees were Sathyanarayan Mundayoor, known as Uncle Moosa of Arunachal Pradesh, who has been promoting education and reading culture in remote areas of Northeastern states for last four decades; Abdul Jabbar aka ‘voice of Bhopal’ (posthumously), known for fighting for the cause of victims and survivor of 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy and Usha Chaumar, a Dalit social worker working in the field of sanitation in Rajasthan, Poptarao Pawar of Ahmednagar (Maharashtra), known for reviving ground water of in drought prone Hiware Bazar area, Harekala Hazabba, a 64 year old social worker from Karnataka providing affordable education to poor children, Arunoday Mondal, a doctor from West Bengal who treats patients in remote Sunderbans, Radha Mohan and his daughter Sabarmatee, both Gandhians who have converted a piece of degraded land into a vast food forest in Odisha by using only organic techniques are among the awardees.

A schoolteacher and tribal farmer from Meghalaya, Trinity Saioo, who is spearheading a turmeric farming movement, Ravi Kannan, an oncologist from Chennai who is treating cancer patients in Assam’s Barak Valley, S Ramakrishnan, a specially abled social worker who has rehabilitated more than 14,000 specially abled people in over four decades in Tamil Nadu, 68-year old environmentalist Sundaram Verma, who planted 50,000 trees in Rajasthan, Munna Master, a Muslim bhajan singer from the state, Yogi Aeron, an 81-year old doctor from Uttarakhand who has been treating burn and bite victims for free for last 35-years, and Rahibai Soma Popere, a self-taught tribal woman famous globally for her work in agro-biodiversity conservation have also been awarded the Padma Shri.

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