On the eve of the Republic Day, the Union Home Ministry on Monday announced the conferment of 119 Padma awards to world leaders, Islamic scholars, public servants, including noted archaeologists who discovered remains of Ram Temple below Babri Mosque in Ayodhya -- Professor BB Lal.
Colleagues and followers continue to hail Lal even after his retirement and revisit his work to pursue their interests in Indian archaeology. He challenged the theory of an Aryan invasion or migration into the Indian subcontinent.
The government has awarded prominent Islamic scholars both Sunni and Shia - Wahiduddin Khan who is known for writing almost 200 books on Islam and provided a commentary on the Quran. He is known globally for his writings on Islam and Maulana Kalbe Sadiq. Khan was a preacher who appealed for communal harmony and a voice of reason. Social entrepreneur and billionaire Sridhar Vembu was also awarded the Padma Shri.
As we cheer the former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe being picked for Padma Bhushan, it is interesting to note the names of Bangladesh Liberation War fighter Lt. Col. (Retd.) Quazi Sajjad Ali Zahir and Rabindra Sangeet exponent Sanjida Khatun from Bangladesh being selected for Padma Shri awards. Quazi had deserted the Pakistan Army and came to India, for which Pakistan decided to give him a death sentence. He was given the death sentence for deserting the Pakistan army which he still carries against his name. Khatun is an academic and a music expert.
The Narendra Modi government has awarded Padma Bhushan posthumously to the Indian National Congress leader from Assam Tarun Gogoi. The BJP government has also conferred the award to RSS leader and former Chief Minister of Gujarat Keshubhai Patel. One most prominent Dalit leader, Ram Vilas Paswan was also awarded posthumously.
Prominent poet and Kannada literary figure from Chandrashekhara Kambara has been awarded Padma Bhushan. He is the founder-vice-chancellor of Kannada University in Hampi. Kambara is the president of the Sahitya Akademi and his works have been translated into several languages. Legendary singer S P Balasubramaniam was awarded Padma Vibhushan.
Chutni Devi, who was once branded as a witch and started a fight against social evils, along with Mithila artist Dulari Devi and Social activist Shanti Devi from Odisha are among Padma Shri winners.