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Padma Awards, 2024

The Padma Awards, comprising of the Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan, and Padma Shri, are India’s most distinguished civilian honors. Annually announced before Republic Day, these awards acknowledge exceptional contributions in various domains. This year, a total of 132 Padma Awards have been declared, including duo cases. Among the recipients, 30 remarkable women and 8 foreign awardees have been recognized. Regrettably, posthumous honors will be conferred upon nine individuals. This article explores the achievements and controversies surrounding the 2024 Padma Awards.

Padma Vibhushan Awardees:

The Padma Vibhushan, India’s second highest accolade, has been bestowed upon five eminent personalities. In recognition for their exceptional contributions, this year’s recipients include former Vice President Venkaiah Naidu, renowned Bharatnatyam dancer Padma Subrahmanyam, veteran actor Chiranjeevi, acclaimed dancer Vyjayantimala Bali, and noted social reformer Bindeshwar Pathak (posthumous).

Padma Bhushan Honorees:

Seventeen distinguished individuals have been selected to receive the Padma Bhushan, India’s third highest award. The esteemed list comprises of Bollywood star Mithun Chakraborty, eminent art patron Kiran Nadar (subject to criticism), champion squash player Joshna Chinappa, former Union Health Minister CP Thakur, and senior BJP leader Olanchery Rajagopal.

Extensive List of Padma Shri Awardees:

The Padma Shri award has been conferred upon 110 inspiring personalities from various backgrounds. Notable recipients include legendary singer Usha Uthup, the late actor Vijaykanth, former UP CM Ram Naik, Foxconn Chairman Young Liu (criticized for business practices), and 34 courageous unsung heroes dedicated to grassroots work nationwide. These selfless individuals have made significant contributions to society and deserve recognition.

Chami Murmu – A Padma Shri Awardee:

Chami Murmu, an environmental activist from Jharkhand, has been honored with the Padma Shri. At 52 years old, she has mobilized hundreds of women across 500 villages to plant over 2.8 million trees. Despite initial opposition from male villagers, Chami persevered in her mission, even leaving her own home when her family opposed her work. In 1996, when 100,000 trees she had planted were destroyed by men, she recommenced her efforts after their arrest. Chami, who dedicated herself to afforestation and women empowerment, never married. Her diverse efforts include building watershed systems for farmers, securing loans, and fostering financial independence for countless women. Her tireless work has deservedly earned her the esteemed Padma Shri award.

Parbati Baruah – Another Notable Padma Shri Awardee:

Parbati Baruah, affectionately known as ‘Hasti Kanya,’ is India’s first female elephant mahout. Hailing from Assam, this 67-year-old belongs to a family with centuries-old ties to elephants and has developed deep bonds with them since childhood. At the age of 14, she accomplished the remarkable feat of capturing her first elephant, ultimately becoming a professional mahout in 1972. Parbati holds immense love for elephants, fondly referring to them as her ‘lovers,’ and spends her days caring for, riding, and training them. She has offered her expertise in resolving human-elephant conflicts and guiding stray elephant herds back to forests, assisting multiple state governments. In 2003, she faced the difficult task of killing a rampaging elephant in Chhattisgarh. Parbati continues to live a simple lifestyle deeply connected to elephants, often called upon when wild elephants enter human habitats. Her unwavering dedication to elephant conservation and her groundbreaking work as India’s first female elephant handler have made her a deserving recipient of the Padma Shri.

Wide Spectrum of Fields Honored:

The extensive list of 2024 Padma Awards includes luminaries from various fields like art, social work, medicine, literature, sports, civil services, and environmental activism. Among the 30 awardees who are women, there are also 8 non-resident or foreign awardees. Additionally, the awards recognize 9 individuals posthumously for their remarkable contributions.

Controversies Around Recipients:

As is often the case, controversies surround some of the Padma awardees. This year, concerns have been raised regarding Foxconn’s business practices (criticism) and Kiran Nadar’s art patronage. Nevertheless, after careful consideration of the criteria, the Awards Committees have deemed these recipients worthy.

In conclusion, the Padma Awards celebrate exceptional contributions across a multitude of fields in India. By bestowing honors upon deserving individuals, the awards recognize their remarkable achievements and positive impact on society. Although controversies persist, the selection process ensures that the recipients truly meet the established criteria.

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