Former union ministers Arun Jaitley, Sushma Swaraj and George Fernandes, Olympian boxer Mary Kom and former Mauritius prime minister Anerood Jugnauth were among seven prominent personalities awarded the Padma Vibhushan on Saturday, the Home Ministry announced.
Famous classical bhajan singer from Varanasi Channulal Mishra and Vishveshateertha Swamiji Sri Pejavara Adhokhaja Matha Udupi, who passed away recently, have also been given the highest Padma award -- Padma Vibhushan.
Former defence minister Manohar Parrikar, industrialists Anand Mahindra and Venu Srinivasan, Olympian badminton player PV Sindhu, former Nagaland chief minister SC Jamir and Jammu and Kashmir politician Muzaffar Hussain Baig have been awarded the Padma Bhushan, a home ministry statement said.
The awards are announced on the eve of Republic Day.
Jaitley, Swaraj, Fernandes, Parrikar and Vishwesha Teertha Swami have been awarded posthumously, the officials said.
This year, the President has approved conferment of 141 Padma awards including four duo cases (in a duo case, the award is counted as one), the statement said.
"Thirty four of the awardees are women and the list also includes 18 persons from the category of Foreigners/NRI/PIO/OCI and 12 posthumous awardees," it said.
Padma Awards - one of the highest civilian Awards -- are conferred in three categories-- Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan and Padma Shri. Sixteen people have been given the Padma Bhushan and 118 the Padma Shri.
Padma Vibhushan is awarded for exceptional and distinguished service; Padma Bhushan for distinguished service of high order and Padma Shri for distinguished service in any field.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated the Padma awardees, saying they include extraordinary people. "Congratulations to all those who have been conferred the Padma Awards," he tweeted.
From Bollywood, filmmakers Karan Johar and Ekta Kapoor and actor Kangana Ranaut have been awarded Padma Shri.
Singers Suresh Wadkar and Adnan Sami, as well as veteran TV actor Sarita Joshi have been conferred with the fourth highest civilian award of the country.
Six sports persons including cricketer Zaheer Khan, current Indian women's hockey captain Rani Rampal, former Indian men's hockey player M P Ganesh, shooter Jitu Rai, former Indian women's football team captain Oinam Bembem Devi and archer Tarundeep Rai have been given Padma Shri.
Naukri.com founder Sanjeev Bikhchandani, industrialist Bharat Goenka, technocrat Nemnath Jain have been conferred the Padma Shri.
The award has also been given to Lucknow-based historian and journalist Yogesh Praveen and Assam-based historian Jogendra Nath Phukan have been awarded Padma Shri
There are 21 'unsung' heroes who were given Padma Shri this year including Jagdish Lal Ahuja, who serves free food to patients and attendants outside PGI hospital in Chandigarh; Mohammed Sharif from Faizabad, who has performed last rites of over 25,000 unclaimed bodies' and veterinarian from Assam Kushal Konwar Sarma who is known for treating elephants.
Seventy-two-year-old Tulasi Gowda from Karnataka, who earned the sobriquet "encyclopedia of forests" because of her vast knowledge of diverse plants species in spite of lacking formal education, has also been given the award, it said.
Sathyanarayan Mundayoor, known as Uncle Moosa of Arunachal Pradesh, who has been promoting education and reading culture in remote areas of Northeastern states for last four decades; Abdul Jabbar aka 'voice of Bhopal' (posthumously), known for fighting for the cause of victims and survivor of 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy; and Usha Chaumar, a Dalit social worker working in the field of sanitation in Rajasthan, have also been given the award.
(Edited by Megha Reddy)