The Padma Shri is India’s fourth highest civilian honour. Recognising distinguished service in diverse spheres of activity including the Arts, Education, Industry, Literature, Science, Sports, Medicine, Social Service and Public Affairs, this honour has also been given to some distinguished individuals who were not citizens of India but did contribute in various ways to India.
The awards, announced on the eve of Republic Day, are given by the President of India.
Padma Shri Winners
In 1954, the year it was first awarded, 17 awards were announced, with people from Maharashtra getting six in the field of Medicine, Public Affairs, Civil Service, Science and Engineering and Literature and Education.
The awardees in 1954 included Dr. Bir Bhan Bhatia (Medicine), Smt. Bhag Mehta (Civil Services), and Shri Shankar Pillai (Literature and Education) .
Till 2017, this medal has been awarded to 2,840 individuals including 130 awardees who were Non-resident Indians (NRIs), Persons of Indian Origin (PIOs) or foreign nationals. Of these 130, the maximum number of 41 awardees are from the US which is followed by 21 awards given to persons from the UK.
2014 was the year that the most Padma Shri awards were announced – the number was 100. In 2017, 74 persons were honoured with this prestigious medal. The field of Arts got the maximum, 19 awards.
Well-known singer Dr Anuradha Paudwal received the Padma Shri in 2017. Another awardee was Deepa Malik, who had done India proud by winning the silver medal at the Rio 2016 Summer Paralympics.
Padma Shri Design
The design of this medal has gone through numerous changes. This is what its current design is like.On its obverse, the words “Padma”, meaning lotus in Sanskrit, and “Shri”, a Sanskrit-derived honorific equivalent to ‘Mr.’ or ‘Ms.’, appear in Hindi above and below a lotus flower. The geometrical pattern on either side is in burnished bronze. All embossing is in white gold.
When it was first instituted, it was the third in the category of the Padma Awards, earlier named as Pahela Varg, Dusra Varg and Tisra Varg. These were subsequently renamed as Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan and Padma Shri in 1955. The Padma Awards follow the Bharat Ratna in the order of precedence.
Padma Shri Eligibility
The fields or disciplines for which these awards are announced include Art, Literature, Social Work, Medicine, Sports and Technology.
All nominations received for Padma Awards, even self-nominations, are placed before the Padma Awards Committee, which is constituted by the Prime Minister every year.
The Padma Awards Committee is headed by the Cabinet Secretary and includes Home Secretary, Secretary to the President and four to six eminent persons as members. The recommendations of the committee are submitted to the Prime Minister and the President of India for approval.