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Whither Padma Awards?

Every year, on Republic day, the Govt of India announces names of select individuals from all walks of life who have been chosen for the coveted Padma Awards. In a few weeks time, Padma Awards for the year 2014 will be given away to 127 ‘distinguished’ individuals at a glittering function by His Excellency, the President of India.

Dr P Raghu Ram
Dr P Raghu Ram

A few weeks ago, persistent front-page headline news exposed gross irregularities, lack of transparency and political nepotism in selecting names for the 2014 Padma Awards by the Govt of Andhra Pradesh. The criteria laid down by the Govt of India – i.e. ‘exceptional and distinguished service of a high order’ and ‘service to society’ were blatantly flouted by the Govt of AP. Clearly, some names recommended for the Padma Awards from AP did not fulfil the above mentioned criteria.

The Andhra Pradesh Chief Secretary led Screening Committee did not record the Minutes outlining reasons for selecting and rejecting nominations. Names were added and deleted by powers that be at the highest level suiting their whims and fancies. Moreover, names rejected by the Chief Secretary led Screening Committee were forwarded by the State Government to the Union Home Ministry, and that too, well past the deadline. A staggering 40% of recommendations from the Govt of AP for Padma Awards 2014 included doctors. Many of those who were selected for the Awards from Andhra Pradesh this year had their nominations forwarded through people and organisations from outside of AP. Needless to state, Andhra Pradesh got a ‘Padma snub’ this year.

Perceived ‘success’ achieved through making money by unethical means and political lobbying cannot and should not become criteria for selection. For someone to be considered for the highest civilian awards, all four aspects must be fulfilled — extraordinary merit, excellence achieved in the chosen field, demonstrable body of work and significant service to the community.

There must be a SEARCH COMMITTEE appointed early in the year to look for talented and meritorious individuals suitable for these Awards. The State Screening Committee must include people of eminence and impeccable track record from both within and outside the Government (lay public). In order to ensure absolute transparency, Minutes of the Screening Committee Meeting must clearly mention reasons for selecting and rejecting nominations. Credit must be given to merit and merit alone.

Every year, no doubt, many deserving people are indeed honoured with Padma Awards. Equally, a few highly undesirable names feature in the list. Hence, these awards are fast losing their relevance. In fact, I will not be surprised at all if a similar flawed process was followed in other States as well for selecting names for the most prestigious awards that this Country bestows.

Whether or not AP Chief Secretary led Committee did its duty this year is for their conscience to answer. Equally, whether or not it is a shame and loss of face for the Govt of Andhra Pradesh as a direct result of the glaring deviation in selecting names for 2014 Padma Awards is for the nation to ponder.

Trust that the lord will grant serenity, courage and wisdom to people in power and position to follow ethics, procedures and protocols to preserve the sanctity, prestige and honour that Padma Awards signify.

I shall end with an appropriate quote: “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” – Dr Martin Luther King, Jr

Dr P Raghu Ram
CEO & Director
Ushalakshmi Breast Cancer Foundation, Hyderabad
Director & Consultant Oncoplastic Breast Surgeon
KIMS-USHALAKSHMI Centre for Breast Diseases, Hyderabad
Vice President (2013-14) & President (2015-16)
The Association of Breast Surgeons of India


  1. Saikumar G Saikumar G Sunday, March 23, 2014

    The mechanism of nominating the doctors for padma awards is not ideal.Toil without recognition is punishment.There are many doctors in our country who do lot of good work and still remain anonymous.There should be a website where doctors need to upload their contribution and achievements in the field of medicine.The search committee should verify the claims and select the list of doctors. But this method is not followed.The doctors of central medical institutes are having field day as they can project their achievements easily and they are usually considered as great because of their position and the opportunities provided to them by the central government.If one goes by the list of doctors honoured before, majority belonged to government institutions or corporate hospitals.

  2. Dr.p.l.nawalkha Dr.p.l.nawalkha Thursday, March 20, 2014

    One should not feel grudge if one of your smart colleague got padma awards. Only regulatory enactment is necessary that this award would not be any of parameter in promotion,selection. Those not awarded with any of awards are not inferior to those awarded. In quasi feudal mindset system of rulers in India,those smart in various modes will ‘snatch’ such awards,and get publicity through media etc,which is very transient.

  3. Dr. S. Narayanan Dr. S. Narayanan Tuesday, March 18, 2014

    Interesting article

    Observations relating to Padma Awards from a thought provoking article, ‘Padma Awards & Doctors’, published in the National Medical Journal (Samiran Nundy et all vol. 23, no. 6, 2010). Between 2000 – 2010, 137 allopathic doctors from India received Padma Awards. Of these, 62 (45%) were from Delhi, 18 (13%) from Maharashtra and 17 (12%) from Tamil Nadu. There were less than 10 representatives from other states in the corresponding period.

    This year, out of the 26 doctors selected for Padma awards, ten (38%) are from Delhi and Haryana and five (19% – exactly half!) are from the all the four Southern States put together (Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamilnadu & Kerala). The over representation of doctors from Delhi and Haryana this year is as obvious and striking as the ten year analysis that was published in the National Medical Journal. Proximity to the corridors of power for doctors in Delhi & Haryana is the only explanation that can answer this most unfortunate bias in selection process for the Country’s highest civilian honours.

    Sad times for our Country

    Dr Narayanan

  4. Dr.O.P.Sharma Dr.O.P.Sharma Tuesday, March 18, 2014

    disgusting .Dr.O.P.Sharma

  5. KS Rao KS Rao Monday, March 17, 2014

    The article is hard hitting. Thanks to RTI application, facts were laid bare in front pages of all newspapers in Andhra Pradesh. 17 out of 37 names recommended from AP for Padma awards this year were doctors. It was not at all shocking to know how some unethical doctors, who do not deserve to be even considered got their names recommended using political connections bypassing rules. For many years, Merit and distinguished service has has been replaced with political connections & lobbying to get such awards which is in turn used by undeserving doctors to increase manifold their unethical practice and the circle goes round. Patients are the ultimate victims who are lured to such doctors because of false pretences.Hippocrates must be crying in his grave.!

    Dr KS Rao

  6. Saroja D. Saroja D. Monday, March 17, 2014

    Last year an oncologist got award because his brother is an IAS officer and there was virtually no contribution of his own, what could make his bio data worth was because he was provided all the facilities and milieu in a great medical institution of capital and his IAS brother who go him appointed in this prestigious institution despite an unrecognised Post graduate degree at the time of appointment . Moreover like it or you do not like it , deserve it or you do not deserve, you work in that Institute so some how you have to be given a Padma Award!!
    This year again one oncologist got it because despite several questions raised on his efficiency his personal scandalous life styles his closeness to the chief minister of the state and her son got him Padma. This is where people felt that Padma Award has lost its significance and glitter.

  7. Dr.p.l.nawalkha Dr.p.l.nawalkha Saturday, March 15, 2014

    We are in democracy from colonial rule and monarchical rule.Our rulers have abundance of ‘feudal cells’ and are guided by syncophants. Pad a awards took the shape of reward in lieu of favour,grease, soon three terms after independence.GRADUALLY,IT TOOK THE SHAPE OF REWARD IN LIEU OF SERVICE TO those in power with presentable paper formalities.This resulted in 50 percent merit based 50percent ‘seva’ based. In UPA rule where total executive is dipped in corruption,it 95percent seva based5percent real deserving based. As on today Padma awards lost glow and glitter from society. It is valued in your letter head decoration and drawing room items of achievement.You should feel grudge .Perhaps Morarjee Bhai realised this creeping unscrupulousness and withdrawn it outright. Pad a goes with paisa ,privileged,proximity to governance,and political cunnings. Dr.p.l.nawalkha

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