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Every year on 26th Jan, Republic Day, Padma Awards, the country’s highest civilian awards, namely, Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan and Padma Shri are announced. What are these awards? How are the awardees selected? What do winner of Padma Vibhushan award, winner of Padma Bhushan and winner of Padma Shri receive?

About the Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan, Padma Shri

The Padma Awards are given in all disciplines or fields of activities, such as art, social work, public affairs, science and engineering, trade and industry, medicine, literature and education, sports, civil service, etc. The awards are announced on the occasion of Republic Day every year. These awards are conferred by the President of India at a function held at Rashtrapati Bhavan sometime around March or April. Padma means Lotus and Lotus flower is the national flower of India.

  • Padma Vibhushan is awarded for exceptional and distinguished service. As of Jan 2016, the award has been bestowed on 294 individuals, including 6 posthumous and 19 non-citizen recipients.
  • Padma Bhushan  is awarded to recognize distinguished service of a high order to the nation. As of Jan 2016, 1230 people have thus far received the award.
  • Padma Shri or Padam Shree is awarded for distinguished service in any field. As of Jan 2016, 2680 people have been awarded Padma Shri.

Padma Awards seeks to recognize work of any distinction and is given for distinguished and exceptional achievements/service in all fields of activities/disciplines, such as Art, Literature and Education, Sports, Medicine, Social Work, Science and Engineering, Public Affairs, Civil Service, Trade and Industry etc. It has also been awarded to some distinguished individuals who were not citizens of India but did contribute in various ways to India. As per the Ministry of Home Affairs,There ought to be an element of public service in the achievements of the person to be selected. It should not be merely excellence in a particular field but it should be excellence plus.

All persons without distinction of race, occupation, position or sex are eligible for these awards. However, Government servants including those working with PSUs, except doctors and scientists, are not eligible for these Awards.  The award is normally not conferred posthumously. However, in highly deserving cases, the Government could consider giving an award posthumously if the demise of the person proposed to be honoured has been recent, say within a period of one year preceding the Republic Day on which it is proposed to announce the award.

A higher category of Padma award can be conferred on a person only where a period of atleast five years has elapsed since conferment of the earlier Padma award. However, in highly deserving cases, a relaxation can be made by the Awards Committee.

This medal is ranked fourth in the order of precedence of wearing of medals and decorations. The medals are produced at Alipore Mint, Kolkata along with the other civilian and military awards  like Bharat Ratna,Padma Bhushan, Padma Shri, and Param Veer Chakra Padma Vibhushan

The total number of awards to be given in a year (excluding posthumous awards and to foreigners) should not be more than 120. The Padma awards recipients are announced every year on Republic Day of India and registered in The Gazette of India,a publication released weekly by the Department of Publication, Ministry of Urban Development used for official government notices.The conferral of the award is not considered official without its publication in the Gazette.


What do the recipients of Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhusan and Padma Shri get?

The Padma award is just an honour. No cash allowance or any facility/benefit in terms of concession etc. in rail/air travel is attached to these awardsThe award does not amount to a title and cannot be used as a suffix or prefix to the awardee’s name on letterheads, invitation cards, posters, books etc. In the case of any misuse, the awardee will forfeit the award.

  • The decoration comprises a Sanad (Certificate) issued under the hand and seal of the President and a Medallion.
  • The recipients are also given a replica of the medallion, which they can wear during any ceremonial/State functions etc., if they desire.
  • A commemorative brochure giving out brief details in respect of each award winner is also released on the day of the investiture ceremony.

About the Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhusan and Padma Shri medallion

Padma Vibhushan badge is circular 1-3/16-inch burnished bronze  with geometrical patterns. It has a centrally located lotus flower with four major petals embossed in white gold.  “Padma” meaning lotus written in Devanagari script is placed above and the text “Vibhushan” is placed below the lotus. On Reverse A platinum Emblem of India placed in the centre with the national motto of India, Satyameva Jayate (Truth alone triumphs) in Devanagari Script.

Padma Bhushan : The badge design is circular 1-3/16-inch burnished bronze badge with geometrical patterns. The center had a lotus flower with three major petals embossed in white gold. Above and below this flower, the name of the decoration Padma Bhushan was embossed in silver-gilt.

Padma Shri : On its obverse, the words “Padma“, meaning lotus in Sanskrit and “Shri“, in Devanagari, appear above and below a lotus flower. The geometrical pattern on either side is in burnished bronze. All embossing is in white gold.

Padma medals, observe, reverse and Ribbon

Padma medals, observe, reverse and Ribbon

Padam Shree award certificate from RKDeraWala

Padma Shree Award Certificate

Padma Shree Award Certificate

These awards are conferred by the President of India at a function held at Rashtrapati Bhavan sometime around March or April. The award ceremony is shown in image below.

President giving Padma awards

President giving Padma awards

Winners of Padma Awards of 2017

Padma award winners of 2017 Padma Shri

Padma award winners of 2017

How are the recipients of Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhusan and Padma Shri decided?


The recommendations are received from all the state and the union territory governments, the Ministries of the Government of India, the Bharat Ratna and previous Padma Vibhushan award recipients, the Institutes of Excellence, the Ministers, the Chief Ministers and the Governors of State, and the Members of Parliament including private individuals. The recommendations received during 1 May and 15 September of every year are submitted to the Padma Awards Committee, constituted by the Prime Minister of India. The Awards Committee later submits their recommendations to the Prime Minister and the President of India for the further approval.

Whem were Padma Awards suspended?

Padma Awards were instituted in the year 1954. Except for brief interruptions during the years 1978 and 1979 and 1993 to 1997, these awards have been announced every year on Republic Day.

  • It was suspended in July 1977 when Morarji Desai was sworn in as the fourth Prime Minister of India. The suspension was rescinded on 25 January 1980, after Indira Gandhi became the Prime Minister.
  • The civilian awards were suspended again in mid-1992, when two Public-Interest Litigations were filed in the High Courts of India, one in the Kerala High Court on 13 February 1992 by Balaji Raghavan and another in the Madhya Pradesh High Court (Indore Bench) on 24 August 1992 by Satya Pal Anand. Both the petitioners questioned the civilian awards being “Titles” per an interpretation of Article 18 (1) of the Constitution of India. On 25 August 1992, the Madhya Pradesh High Court issued a notice temporarily suspending all civilian awards. On 15 December 1995, the Special Division Bench restored the awards and delivered a judgement that the Bharat Ratna and Padma awards are not titles under Article 18 of the Constitution of India

Ref: Scheme of Padma awards (pdf) Padma Awards Directory (1954-2013)

Those who returned the Padma Awards

Many people some eminent artists, journalists, writers and politicians have refused/renounced prestigious awards — with reasons ranging from rage at international affairs and killings to personal hurt. For example in

  • 2015 Salim Khan refused to accept the Padma Shri saying that it’s too late and others had received it much earlier.
  •  In 2002 Sitara Devi, the legendary Kathak dancer refused to accept the Padma Bhushan saying, “it is my insult and not an honour”. The exponent was upset that others — junior to her — had received Padma Vibhushans, and declared that “I will not accept any award less than Bharat Ratna”. Well-known playback singer S. Janaki on Saturday rejected the Padma Bhushan award in 2015, for which she has been chosen, describing it “too late to come to her.”
  • Spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar,  had  turned down the award in 2015.
  • During emergency of 75, hindi novelist Phanishwarnath Renu returned the Padma shree, recalling Tagore’s disavowal of knighhood after Jaliyawala bag massacre. Kannada polymath Shivarama Karanth gave back Padma Bhushan.
  • Ratan Thiyam ,Theatre Personality .Returned his Padma Shri in 2001 to protest the Centre’s decision to extend the Naga ceasefire, saying he had taken the step as “a compulsion of my bleeding heart”. In a letter to the President, Thiyam said the government’s decision had “caused deaths, injuries, turmoil and restlessness in the North-East”
  • Khushwant Singh ,Journalist, Returned his Padma Bhushan in protest against Operation Blue Star (1984); awarded Padma Vibhushan in 2007
  • K Subrahmanyam, Defence Analyst turned down Padma Bhushan in 1999; believes bureaucrats and journalists should not accept any award from the government because they are more liable to be favoured.
  • Romila Thapar – Historian Turned down Padma Bhushan in 1992 and 2005 because she wanted to “only accept awards from academic institutions or those associated with my professional work”

Foreigners who were awarded Padma awards

17 people from other countries, including a few of Indian origin, were among 104 people chosen for the Padma awards in 2015.

  • Karim Al Hussiani Aga Khan of France has been conferred with the Padma Vibhushan, India’s second highest civilian award.
  • Manjul Bhargava, David Frawley, Bill Gates and Melinda Gates – all from the US – and Saichiro Misumi from Japan will receive the Padma Bhushan.
  • Jean-Claude Carriere and Jacques Blamont (France), Huang Baosheng (China), Nandrajan ’Raj’ Chetty, George L. Hart, Tripti Mukherjee, Dattatreyudu Nori, Raghu Rama Pillarisetti (all from the US), Jagat Guru Amrta Suryananda Maha Raja (Portugal), Saumitra Rawat (Britain) and Annette Schmiedchen (Germany) were named for the Padma Shri.
  • Professeur Jacques Emile Blamont, Advisor to the President of the French National Space Agency (Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales), was awarded the Padma Shri for the year 2015 for his exceptional contribution to the kick-start pf the Indian space programme in the 1960s and 1970s.

In 2014 following foreigners won the Padma awards

  • Prof. Anisuzzaman, Literature and Education, Bangladesh : Padma Bhushan
  • Prof. Lloyd I. Rudolph and Prof. Susanne H. Rudolph, Literature and Education, USA, Padma Bhushan
  • Shri Ashok Kumar Mago, Trade and Industry, USA, Padma Shri
  • Dr. Siddharth Mukherjee, Medicine-Oncology, USA, Padma Shri
  • Dr. Vamsi Mootha, Medicine – Biomedical Research, USA,Padma Shri
  •  Dr. Sengaku Mayeda, Literature and Education, Japan,Padma Shri

Those who have won Padma awards Posthumously

Many have been awarded rewards after their death or posthumously. For example in 2016 Reliance founder Dhirubhai Ambani got Padma Vibhushan posthumously, Saeed Jaffrey will be awarded posthumously Padma Bhushan. In 2014  Syedna Mohammad Burhanuddin- Others- Maharashtra, Late Meetha Lal Mehta- Social Work- Rajasthan , Late Pran Kumar Sharma alias Pran- Art- Delhi , Late R Vasudevan- Civil Service- Tamil Nadu were awarded Padma Shree after their death.

Awards in India

The Indian Honour System is primarily recognized by the Indian Government. The Indian honour system is broadly classified into five types : Leadership, Literature, Civilian, Patriotic, and Particular.

  • Leadership awards
    • Gandhi Peace Prize awards
    • Indira Gandhi Prize
  • Literature awards
    • Sahitya Akademi Award
    • Sahitya Akademi Fellowship
    • Bhasha Samman
    • Translation Awards
    • Anand Coomarswamy Fellowships
    • Premchand Fellowship
  • Civilian awards
    • Bharat Ratna
    • Padma awards
    • Inspired Teacher Awards
  • Patriotic Awards
    • Wartime gallantry awards : such as Param Vir Chakra , Maha Vir Chakra, Vir Chakra  is awarded for acts of conspicuous gallantry in the presence of the enemy, whether on land, at sea or in the air.
    • Peacetime gallantry awards such as Ashok Chakra Award,  Kirti Chakra, Shaurya Chakra  An Indian military decoration awarded for valour, courageous action or self-sacrifice away from the battlefield.
    • Wartime/Peacetime service and gallantry awards such as Sena Medal, Nao Sena Medal, Vayusena Medal
    • Wartime Distinguished Service such as Sarvottam Yudh Seva Medal, Uttam Yudh Seva Medal, Yudh Seva Medal
    • Peacetime Distinguished Service such as Param Vishisht Seva Medal, Ati Vishisht Seva Medal, Vishisht Seva Medal
  • National sports awards such as Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna, Dronacharya award, Arjuna award, Dhyan Chand Award
  • Police awards
  • Bravery awards
    • National Bravery Award such as Bharat Award, Sanjay Chopra Award, Geeta Chopra Award
    • Jeevan Raksha Padak Series of Awards such as Sarvottam Jeevan Raksha Padak, Uttam Jeevan Raksha Padak, Jeevan Raksha Padak

Winners of Padma Awards of 2016

Winners of  Padma Vibhushan Awards of 2016

  •  Rajinikanth :Shivaji Rao Gaekwad, popularly known as Rajinikanth, is one of the most popular film personalities in India. The superstar who works mostly in Tamil films has also acted in other industries including Hollywood, Hindi, Bengali. He was honoured with the Padma Bhushan in 2000.
  •  Ramoji Rao : Ramoji Rao is a media entrepreneur. He is the owner of Ramoji Group, the world’s largest film production facility Ramoji Film City and film production company Ushakiran Movies.
  •  Jagmohan : Former J&K Governor Jagmohan is a recipient of the Padma Shri in 1971 and the Padma Bhushan in 1977. A retired civil servant, he is also a published author.
  •  Shri Shri Ravi Shankar: Ravi Shankar, populary known as Shri Shri Ravi Shankar, is the founder of the Art Of Living Foundation.
  •  Yamini Krishnamurthy: She is a renowned Bharathanatyam and Kuchipudi dancer.
  •  Girija Devi: is an eminent vocalist of the Banaras gharana. She is known to have elevated the profile of thumri.
  •  V K Aatre: A former Defence Research and Development Organisation chief , Aatre is also a Padma Bhushan recipient.
  •  Dhirubhai Ambani:  The late business tycoon was the founder of Reliance Industries.
  •  Avinash Dixit: is an Indian-American economist and the author of a number of books in economics.
  •  Viswanathan Shanta: Dr.V. Shanta is a prominent Oncologist and chairperson of Adyar Cancer Institute, Chennai. She is also a Padma Shri and Padma Bhushan recipient.

What do you think of these Padam awards? Do you think it makes sense to give so many awards? Do you think people should be allowed to vote for Padma award winners?


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