General Bipin Rawat, India’s first Chief of Defence Staff who was killed last year in a helicopter crash, vaccine makers Krishna Ella, Suchitra Ella, Cyrus Poonawalla, opposition politicians Ghulam Nabi Azad, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, and Indian-origin Silicon Valley titans Satya Nadella and Sundar Pichai were named for the country’s top civilian awards on Tuesday, the eve of the 73rd Republic Day.
General Rawat has been honoured with India’s second-highest civilian award, the Padma Vibhushan, along with Kalyan Singh, who was Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister when the Babri Masjid was demolished. He too died last year.
Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad of the Congress and former West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) were given the third-highest honour – the Padma Bhushan.
However, Mr Bhattacharjee, a lifelong Marxist and a staunch critic of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, rejected the award in an extremely rare instance seen as a major embarrassment for the government.
Krishna Ella and Suchitra Ella of Bharat Biotech and Cyrus Poonawala of the Serum Institute of India will also get the Padma Bhushan for their role in India’s response to COVID-19 with the Covaxin and Covishield vaccines.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and Google’s Sundar Pichai were also named for the Padma Bhushan, as was chairperson of Tata Group Natarajan Chandrasekaran.
US-based culinary expert Madhur Jaffrey, Paralympic javelin thrower Devendra Jhajharia, religious teacher from Gujarat Swami Sachidanand were among other Padma Bhushan awardees.
Singer Sonu Nigam and Olympic gold medallist Neeraj Chopra have been awarded the Padma Shri – the fourth highest honour – along with Jamia Millia Islamia University Vice-Chancellor Najma Akhtar.
There are 130 names on the list of Padma Awardees this year, including two shared ones.
The list has 4 Padma Vibhushan, 17 Padma Bhushan and 107 Padma Shri awards. Thirty-four of the awardees are women.
No names were announced for the Bharat Ratna, the highest civilian award, which was last awarded in 2019 to former President Pranab Mukherjee, social reformer Nanaji Deshmukh and noted singer Bhupen Hazarika.
See the full list here: