NEW DELHI: President Ram Nath Kovind on Monday presented Padma Awards to the achievers honoured in 2020 for having spent years making a difference to the masses or contributing to their respective fields and disciplines.
Among those handed the Padma medallion and ‘sanad’ at the Civil Investiture Ceremony held almost one-and-a-half years after it had got postponed due to Covid outbreak, included the late Union ministers George Fernandes, Arun Jaitley and Sushma Swaraj; as well as actress Kangana Ranaut, film producers Karan Johar and Ekta Kapoor, boxing champion M C Mary Kom and two-time Olympic medalist P V Sindhu.
The awardees for 2020 include former President and Prime Minister of Mauritius Anerood Jugnauth (posthumous), Sri Vishveshateertha Swamiji Sri Pejavara Adhokhaja Matha Udupi (posthumous), classical singer Chhannulal Mishra (all conferred the Padma Vibhushan); Padma Bhushan winners Manohar Parrikar (posthumous), industrialists Anand Mahindra and Venu Srinivasan, former Nagaland chief minister S C Jamir and J&K politician Muzaffar Hussain Baig; and retired DG Medical Services, Air Force, Air Marshal Padma Bandopadhyay, who was handed the Padma Shri by President Kovind amid loud applause.
The Civil Investiture Ceremony, held in two separate sessions on Monday, was attended by Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and several Cabinet ministers.
Some heroes who have spent a lifetime in social service and were conferred Padma Shri in 2020 include Abdul Jabbar Khan who has been doing advocacy for victims of Bhopal gas tragedy for past three decades despite having lost his family and 50% of own vision to the poisonous gas leak; Usha Chaumar, head of Sulabh International Social Service Organisation; Harekala Hajabba, an illiterate fruit vendor from Karnataka who has been providing affordable education to poor children; Arunoday Mondal, a doctor from West Bengal who treats patients in the remote Sundarbans; Ravi Kannan, an oncologist from Chennai who treats cancer patients in Assam’s Barak Valley; S Ramakrishnan, a specially-abled social worker who has rehabilitated over 14,000 specially-abled people in Tamil Nadu; and Rajasthan environmentalist Sundaram Verma who has planted 50,000 trees.
The ceremony had its share of glitz with actress Kangana Ranaut arriving in an elegant cream saree to receive the Padma Shri. Her sister Rangoli was there to cheer for her. Karan Johar, Ekta Kapoor, playback singers Suresh Wadkar and Adnan Sami also received the honour. Sportspersons who received the Padma Shri included Indian women’s hockey captain Rani Rampal,
Tweeting with the hashtag ‘PeoplesPadma’, Prime Minister Modi said: “I felt extremely happy to see grassroots level achievers being recognised for their exemplary efforts to further public good…From environment to enterprise, agriculture to the arts, science to social service, public administration to cinema…recipients of the #PeoplesPadma come from diverse backgrounds. I would urge you all to know about each of the awardees and get inspired”.
Home minister Amit Shah tweeted in appreciation of awardees Fernandes, Jaitley and Swaraj. Recognising Fernandes’ selfless service to the nation, Shah tweeted: “Right from the Emergency era to occupying different positions in the government, he contributed immensely to progress to the nation”. On Jaitley, he tweeted: “His wisdom and experience in fields like law, finance etc made an unforgettable contribution to the development of India…His dedication to national progress will always inspire us.”
As for Swaraj, Shah tweeted: “The life of late Sushma Swaraj was dedicated to people’s welfare and service of the nation. She will be remembered for connecting the external affairs ministry with common people”.
While Fernandes and Jaitley’s Padma Vibhushan was received by their respective spouses Leila Kabir and Sangeeta Jaitley, Swaraj’s daughter Bansuri Swaraj received the honour on behalf of her mother.

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