The list of this year’s Padma Shri awardees includes many “unsung heroes” who have contributed to the society in their own ways.
The Narendra Modi government posthumously awarded Andhra Pradesh’s Gosaveedu Shaik Hassan, a Nadaswaram player and freedom fighter.
For seven decades, Hassan played the wind instrument everyday as ‘Suprabhatham’ to Lord Rama. The classical instrument’s exponent, he served and dedicated his life to historical Sri Seetha Ramachandra Swami Temple at Bhadrachalam.
Uttar Pradesh’s Seth Pal Singh has contributed to agriculture by specialising in modifying the Singhara crop geometry and rotation practice. He developed an innovative technique of growing the crop through scaffolding, relay cropping and intercropping method and inspired farmers to grow fruits and vegetables along with traditional crops.
Maharashtra’s Himmatrao Bawaskar is a general physician from Mahad widely known for his treatment for scorpion stings and snake bites.
Late CDS Bipin Rawat, Kalyan Singh and Ghulam Nabi Azad among Padma awardees | Full list here
Coming from a humble background, he started treating the poor in rural areas despite a lack of resources and discovered that by using Prazosin for treatment mortality rate dropped from 40 per cent to less than 1 per cent.
Gurmeet Bawa, who has been awarded posthumously, is an internationally-celebrated Punjabi folk singer. She was the first Punjabi female folk singer to sing on Doordarshan and popularised the the genre and its instruments. She has performed in more than 25 countries.
Karnataka’s H R Keshavamurthy is a renowned Gamaka singer from Shivamogga, who has introduced over 100 classical ragas to his own style of Gamaka singing.
He dedicated six decades of his life preserving and promoting ‘Kavya Vachana ‘, a rare Kannada form of storytelling, and popularised rich cultural Kannada epics, ‘Kumaravyasas Bharatha’ and ‘Jaiminis Bharatha’ among masses.
His efforts have also provided a platform to upcoming Gamaka artistes.
Jammu and Kashmir’s Faisal Ali Dar is known as Kashmir’s ‘Karate Kid’. A martial arts coach from Bandipore, he established a sports academy and trained 4,000 students. He aims to empower the youth in the sensitive, militancy-hit regions with opportunities and dreams.
His achievement is reflected in the medals won by his students in global kickboxing championships.
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Gujarat’s Gamit Ramilaben Raysingbhai is a tribal social worker from Tapi. From a humble background, she worked at the grassroot level and her dedicated efforts led to the transformation of nine villages into open defecation free villages.
She created over 300 sanitary units and held awareness events on open defecation, sickle cell anemia and led “self-help groups across education, healthcare and sanitation in tribal communities”.
Jharkhand’s Girdhari Ram Ghonju, who has been honoured posthumously, is a Nagpuri litterateur and educationist from Ranchi. He worked for the upliftment of regional language and culture of Jharkhand and authored over 25 books and plays, especially on saving local heritage and identity of Nagpuria culture for over five decades.
Odisha’s Narasingha Prasad Guru is a Koshali author, lyricist and lexicographer from Balangir who championed the Koshali language for decades.
He has written over 10 books in Koshali and composed around 500 lyrical renditions that have been broadcasted by the AIR. A teacher and writer in Odia and Koshali-Sambhalpuri, he promoted Koshali and also wrote a dictionary on it.
Haryana’s Moti Lal Madan, who created the world’s first IVF buffalo calf, was also honoured. The 82-year-old distinguished veterinarian and biotechnologist from Karnal led the team that performed the world’s first successful invitro fertilization of a buffalo, leading to the Pratham’s birth.
He served as the director of National Dairy Research Institute in Karnal and pioneered research in reproductive endocrinology, embryo biotechnology, IVF and cloning.
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Tamil Nadu’s R Muthukannammal is a Sadir dancer from Viralimalai, a precursor to Bharatanatyam. She has performed in over 1,000 dance and singing shows in over 70 years and continues to train young artistes. She is the last surviving ‘Devadasi’ of her cohort.
To popularise her contribution in Sadir, veteran sculptor G Chandrasekaran crafted a statue of her in his art school. She is known as the “seventh generation Sadir dancer and custodian of the early tradition of Bharatanatyam”.
Prem Singh, a prominent social worker from Mohali, dedicated over three decades of his life serving over 1,000 leprosy patients in Punjab. When facing financial challenges, he sold his personal assets and took loans to for their welfare and rehabilitation.
Uttar Pradesh’s Radheyshyam Khemka, who has been honoured posthumously, is a legendary publisher who took ancient literary works of Gita, Mahabharat and Ramyana to the people.
He was the president of Geeta Press, the largest publisher of spiritual literature and Editor of Kalyan magazine since its inception. He published translations of Puranas and took Indic history, culture, spirituality and values to the masses.
Madhya Pradesh’s Ram Sahay Panday, a veteran Rai folk artist from Bundelkhand for 60 years, popularised the dance by mixing it with tunes of Mridangam.
He founded Ram Sahay Panday dance group to promote and preserve the art of the extinct Bediya tribe and delivered more than 100 performances in 18 countries and continues to promote the art form even at the age of 90.