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Women on top: Padmashri Sania?

The awards committee feels that Mirza is an inspiration for the youth in India, reports Rajnish Sharma.

india Updated: Jan 21, 2006 17:17 IST

Tennis star Sania Mirza may have had to pack her bags early at the Australian Open this year, but she has some good news waiting for her at home. The government has decided to award her the Padma Shri. That makes her one of the youngest recipients of the prestigious award.

Highly-placed government sources said the Padma awards committee was of the view that Sania had a strong case for the award as she had been a tremendous inspiration both for the youth and women in India.

Recognising the contribution of women in Indian sports, the government’s Padma Shri list also has Manipuri woman boxer Mary Kom, who won two gold medals at the Women’s World Boxing Championship held in the United States last year. None of the crickerters make it to this year’s list.

Veteran actor and theatre artiste A.K. Hangal finally gets his due, with the government conferring the Padma Bhushan on him.

Sources said there was complete unanimity in the committee on Hangal's name. Members were of the view that the versatile actor had so far not been recognised for his acting skills.

Telugu superstar Chiranjeevi will be conferred the Padma Bhushan. Chiranjeevi, who has starred in several Telugu blockbusters, belongs to the influential Kapu community in Andhra Pradesh.

Another movie personality in the list of Padma awardees is senior theatre and film director Sai Paranjpe. She will be given the Padma Shri.

Ghazal singer Pankaj Udhas will also be conferred the Padma Shri. Noted Gandhian and Rajya Sabha member Nirmala Deshpande will be awarded the Padma Shri.

Three business tycoons have made it to the Padma list.

Sunil Mittal, chairman of the Bharti Group is being awarded the Padma Shri for his contributuion in growth of cellular services in India.

Nandan Nilekani, CEO of Infosys, and Deepak Parekh, chairman of HDFC Bank, are also being conferred the Padma Shri.

The list of Padma awardees will be announced on the eve of Republic Day.

Government sources said the list which has been sent to the President is likely to be cleared in a day or two.

First Published: Jan 21, 2006 17:17 IST