Brajesh, Montek, Premji get Padma Vibhushan

No journalist, only one politician, a surfeit of artists and craftspersons and Brajesh Mishra this year's list of Padma awardees has a more-than-usual share of surprises.

Among those that the government selected for the country's second highest award, Padma Vibhushan, was Mishra, one of the closest associates of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Mishra was both the national security advisor as well as the principal secretary to the prime minister during the NDA regime but is no longer associated with the BJP. "I am grateful to the government for recognising my services contributed towards national interest. I always believe if one works in national interest, regardless of politics, it is valued," Mishra said on being selected for an award that is perceived to be conferred on people considered to be favourites of the ruling establishment.

Mishra is among the 13 people selected for Padma Vibhushan which is the country's highest award after Bharat Ratna. Like many years in the past, no one was selected for Bharat Ratna. Among those who will be honoured with the Padma Vibhushan are Planning Commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Wipro founder Azim Premji, culture scholar Kapila Vatsyayan, chairman of the 13th finance commission Vijay Kelkar, the country's first woman photojournalist Homai Vyarawalla and Telugu actor A Nageswara Rao.

Also awarded with Padma Vibhushan is the former Governor of Bihar, West Bengal and Haryana, A R Kidwai, the only politician in a list of 128 people that were selected for the Padma Awards. Kidwai has been a distinguished educationist and a former chairman of the Union Public Service Commission. He has also been chancellor of the Aligarh Muslim University.

The most conspicuous omission from the list are mediapersons. For the first time in several years, not a single journalist has been picked for any of the Padma Awards. It is not clear whether the decision was influenced by the controversy surrounding the Niira Radia tapes in which some prominent mediapersons have been revealed in bad light.

However, that same treatment has not been meted out to the corporate world which too found itself embroiled in the Radia tapes controversy. As many as ten people from the industry and corporate world found a place on the list.

In addition to the Padma Vibhushan, the government selected 31 people for the Padma Bhushan and 84 for Padma Shri Awards, all of which will be conferred by the President on Republic Day tomorrow.

Among those chosen for the Padma Bhushan are former foreign secretary Shyam Saran, yesteryear film stars Shashi Kapoor and Waheeda Rehman, industrialist Y C Deveshwar, and banker Chanda Kochar.

For the Padma Shri, shooter Gagan Narang, wrestler Sushil Kumar and discus thrower Krishna Poonia all of whom brought laurels during the Commonwealth Games have been selected. Cricketer V V S Laxman, actors Kajol, Irfan Khan and Tabu, and singer Usha Uthup are also in the list.

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