Opinion

Padma Awards 2021: Personification Of India’s Meritocracy & Inclusivity

Emaad Makhdoomi | Updated : November 16, 2021, 1:52 pm
Emaad Makhdoomi
Updated : November 16, 2021, 1:52 pm

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The Padma Awards are the highest civilian honours that were constituted 67 years ago to honour Indians who have established themselves as distinguished individuals by dint of their work. This year’s Padma Awards have been remarkable and different. Padma Awards 2021 felicitate individuals for their distinguished services to humanity whilst bringing inclusivity to the foreground. Also Read: ‘All Political Discourse Today In France Sounds Like Debate About India’

This year, Padma Awards have a revamped and refreshing approach. These awards are no longer a mere forum where one could treat them as a platform in which awards were doled out basis the whims and caprices of a certain section of people. This year’s awards have made inroads to different sections of society and have successfully recognised achievements that were unknown to the whole country.

Whether it is a fruit seller from Mangalore, Karnataka, Harekala Hajabba, who was awarded for his social work, or a renowned artist, Dalavai Chalapathi Rao, who was recognised for his relentless efforts to art in leather puppetry from Anantapur, Andhra Pradesh, it was inclusiveness that was displayed at its best. Harekala Hajabba is fondly called the “Saint of Letters” as he established the mammoth task of building a school to get access to quality education for the children of his village.

All these winners exhibited their humility and simplicity as they collected the prestigious award barefooted and in their simple avatar, like wearing their traditional attire.


The humble background that the winners come from drives home the fact that talent and willpower to make a difference to society is all that is needed to be able to make outstanding contributions. This aspect has been highlighted and is out there for everyone to see via different photos, videos, stories, and other published items that are in circulation via social media. Popularly known as “Seed Mother”, Rahibai Soma Popere was awarded for her contribution to Agriculture.

The tribal activist, Tulsi Gowda, who hails from Karnataka, flaunted her modesty and austerity by greeting the audience before she went to receive the award. She is fondly known as the “encyclopedia of forests”, and she collected all her knowledge from the government nurseries as she worked there from a young age and never had a formal education.

The Padma Awards uphold the fact that the Government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi only highlights meritocracy and does not need any direction or guidance from uprooted academicians or oblivious activists who have a distorted definition of inclusivity in their minds.

Inclusivity was upheld in the highest form by all the winners that were awarded and honored in the recently conducted Padma Awards as winners did not belong to any particular strata of the society but they belong to the heartlands of India. India is unified in the truest sense of the term.

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(Emaad Makhdoomi is a Columnist based in Srinagar. He is also the Founder of The Trailblazers Research Foundation)

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