Friday, January 26, 2007

Padma Awards 2007: Khushwant Singh, Neeraj, Teesta & Muslim awardees

The Padma Awards have been announced on Republic Day eve.

The highest of these three awards, Padma Vibhushan, has been given to writer-journalist Khushwant Singh and jurist Fali Nariman, both of whom fully deserve the recognition. Raja Rao and some other eminent personalities have also been conferred this award.

The second, Padam Bhushan, has been awarded to over 30 peronalities including Gopal Das Neeraj, Javed Akhtar and even Pepsi CEO Indira Nooyi (why?). Neeraj truly deserves it. Just last week when I saw the Hindi poet (he was given Padma Shri long back), I felt why out government has not given him Padma Bhushan. Thank God, good sense prevailed. My interest in Hindi poetry began after listening to Neeraj in Kavi Sammelans. And what about his 'karvaaN guzar gayaa, ghubaar dekhte rahe...'

As far as Padma Shree is concerned, scores of persons have been awarded with this honour. Teesta Setalvad has been given the award. I congratulate her. She has fought for the riot victims, had become the Voice of Voiceless in Gujarat and deserves it truly. [The highest civilian award, Bharat Ratna has not been awarded this year also. In the past, the award was given generously. ]

Muslim Padma Awardees

This year there are comparatively few Muslim names in the list. No Padma Vibhushan. Syed Haider Raza (Art), Javed Akhtar (Poetry/Films) and Hakeem Syed Mohammad Sharfuddin Qadri (Medicine) are amongst the list of personalities selected for Padma Bhushan.

Mushirul Hasan, Khalid Zaheer, Mujtaba Husain (Urdu writer, isn't he the one!), Syeda Saiyidain Hameed, Mohsin Wali, Yusuf Khan Pathan are amongst the Padma Shree awardees. May be I missed a name!

Frankly, the number of Muslim awardees is less important. I am more happy that Neeraj Sahab got Padma Bhushan and Khushwant Singh, Teesta Setalwad and contribution of so many others from various fields has been acknowledged. However, Nooyee keeps baffling me. Wouldn't a Padma Shri would have been enough!

(Above are photographs of Neeraj and Teesta Setalwad along with the caricature that appears with Khushwant Singh's column 'Malice Towards One and All')