Peelasophy · random thoughts

Padma Shri – some random thoughts

General gyan related to post:

I had limited knowledge about awards like Padmashri, Padma Bhushan, Bharat Ratna etc. But I have always held the award recipients in deep regard (not as if it matters to them, but anyways). To me, Padma Shri is not an exam where one scores 95+ out of 100 and gets shortlisted or receives the award. This must be an award given to people who have excelled in what they do. They deserve respect because they have earned that respect. In a show of appreciation, Mother India gives a pat on the back of such few achievers who make her proud. Arts, Sports, Science, and Literature etc are some of the fields and the award is an honor, recognition of their work. Some of the names that immediately come to my mind are Dr. L Subramaniam, Lalgudi Jayaraman, Kamal Hassan, Mammooty, Aparna Sen, Suchitra Sen, Satyajit Ray, Venkataraghavan, Paes, Bhupati, Viswanathan Anand … hmm, top of the mind recalls are all celebrities in arts and sports – what a profound realization! But not one of them is an individual whose potential or magnitude of success is questionable.

Flash back:

Let me rewind 9 years – it was 2000, March 19. I had received my MBA degree at IIM Lucknow. To celebrate, the very next night, along with my best friend from campus, S, I went off on a vacation to Kerala – a wonderful journey, so magical, that I repeated visits to part of this tour on my honeymoon as well 🙂

Random – more flashback:

S and I were tired having travelled overnight on a bus from Lucknow to Delhi with goats, sheep, men, women, children and our suitcases sandwiched somewhere between man, animal, metal, seat cushions, vegetables and other stuff we couldn’t see but feel with our olfactory senses. It was an adventure when the poor bus huffed and puffed but lost its ability to drag itself further. The tyres got replaced just in time, and we managed to reach the railway station just minutes before Kerala Express left the platform. It is a mystery how we managed to survive the thermally challenging conditions outside and inside the bus. From Delhi, we went on my longest train journey to date, in a comfortable AC 2 tier coach all the way to Trivandrum travelling through many states including UP, Gujarat, MP, AP, TN and Kerala.

Tying together flashback, truth, realization and philosophy

I stayed at S’s home for 3-4 days before K, another campus partner in crime, joined us. S’s dad is a simple man and I enjoyed the lunches and dinners at his home. Aunty cooked great food and Uncle was always in good spirits, even bowling straight faced verbal googlies and doosras that had all of us in splits. He never asked embarrassing questions about what we planned to do in our careers, what we learnt at engineering college or in our MBA. But I knew that he knew a lot of stuff and was happy to be around him. I realized S’s dad was a big man at VSSC.
A couple of years later, S casually mentioned to me that his dad, Suresh uncle had won the Padmashri. My eyes were ready to pop out but S, though happy, didn’t raise a hue and cry. I was completely overwhelmed to say the least and my first thought was to wonder if I did shake Uncle’s hands when I had met him. I tried hard to remember the jokes he had cracked. I was completely humbled by his behavior and to this day, I remain a fan. He demonstrated to me the meaning of the term, humility. S, in one of our discussions also spoke about how his father had worked with ex-president Adbul Kalam. Being Kalam’s fan, I am even angrier at my memory for not confirming yet whether I did shake Uncle’s hands or not – I know I hadn’t taken his autograph or asked him any advice or spoken about anything meaningful. Uncle wanted us to enjoy our holidays and had allowed us to take his car on a 1000 km drive through Kerala. Thanks Uncle! He is well known for his contribution to SRE. Unfortunately, Space Capsule Recovery Experiment is not as popular field a field as cinema or cricket but I started to read articles on the Internet (where else?) on these awards.
Now, I know that Padma Sri stands fourth in the hierarchy of civilian awards after the Bharat Ratna, the Padma Vibhushan and the Padma Bhushan. I had also been told by an old Tamil mama that years ago, MGR had refused to accept the award as it was a combination of Hindi words. But today, when I see the list and feel thrilled for all the winners, my mind keeps getting distracted and goes back to one name. I don’t care much about Aishwarya Rai or Akshay or Vivek or Dhoni – congrats to them! But I feel sad that we also have Harbhajan Singh in that list. There must be some consideration given to how a person conducts himself in public before handing over such a prestigious award to him or her. That ‘obnoxious weed’ got away with comments that were racist – But Not! He had just said, Maa ki to an opponent. What a wonderful choice of words – teri maa ki and not monkey!! He also slapped his colleague, Sreesanth after an IPL loss, in front of millions of viewers. Bhajji analyzed the fast paced movement of his hands to the Kerala speedster’s cheeks as an act of brotherly love. Time and again, he has been a serial offender in the name of an aggressive mindset.
Hmm … Padma Shri Harbhajan Singh – this will take some time to digest! To me, it is similar to Satyam getting the Golden Peacock for Corporate governance or Barkha Dutt for journalism. I shall continue to support Harbhajan when he plays cricket and represents India, but this is a little too much. Maybe an Arjuna award would have have more appropriate.
Or Maybe the unthinkable has happened – the quota system has meandered and found its way into Government of India’s Padma shri award system as well?


8 thoughts on “Padma Shri – some random thoughts

  1. Ranga:
    What kind of mindset do we have, when we kind of take it for granted that the Government of India is the right organisation to recognise or ignore the work of private citizens?! It is NOT the State’s job to spend tax money to reward people: the market or private organisations should do that. That is how we can be oblivious to the award going to Bhajji or Raj Thugray. I am strongly against this culture, in case you missed it!

    Ranga: Doc, deleted your other comment asking me to check this comment. yes, I did miss your point. Also, the number of people receiving the Padmashri is so high, the quality is bound to go down. given Satyam case, i am not sure of how effective private organizations are going to be. Thugray – wah wah, thats an apt name. And thanks so much for visiting my blog and commenting 🙂

  2. “Indha naai ku poi indha honour thevaiya?” flashed the second after i read the article on Harbhajan receiving Padma Shri. Truly undeserving among names of elites and stalwarts!

    Ranga: If you are sued by Bhajji, say you were saying, ‘Indha Naalukku’ or ‘Indhia Naatukku’ or something like that just like monkey can become maa ki. what say?

  3. Ahem Ahem !!! Just because some one was aggressive or had bad temper, we should ban him from receiving any award of honor !!! Well, whats the guarantee that the other people on the list hadn’t used gaalis on anyone or for that matter haven’t slapped anyone?? May be Bajji was trying to be himself.. Wat sayz??

    Ranga: Thats why I am saying maybe Arjuna award for achievement in sports. But at least the top awards should not have such publicly disgraceful characters. But maybe your perspective is correct and thats why Bhajji has won it 😉 I cannot feel pained though

  4. Totally disagreeing with Rambodoc here. The government of India is the RIGHT organisation to give the awards, though as is obvious, has made a grave error this one time.

    Padmashree, Padma vibhushan, bharat Ratna etc will not be called ‘the highest honor’ if it was given off by a private organisation – the whole credibility is lost.
    Dhoni did deserve it – we are way too proud of him, and smug about his performance in international cricket. Bajji is a different matter altogether. I frankly didn’t follow his record due to his behavior on-field.

    Sirisha, I think the bottom line here is Bajji didn’t make us or the nation proud. Thats why he doesn’t deserve it.

    Ranga: Views expressed are not the author’s and all are entitled to argue on my blog – mosht welcome 🙂

  5. Regarding Bajji’s award: there can be no excuse for bad temper, or “being oneself ” , when it is at another’s expense. If a person bangs his head against a wall, or shouts alone inside his house, no pbm, give him awards . but not if a person abuses referees, or trips or kicks players ( as in soccer ) , or slaps someone as in the point under discussion. Similarly, brilliant performance in an office doesnt justify obnoxious behaviour towards less gifted or productive colleagues — such a guy should be fired, but usually gets huge increments and promotions.

    1. I am very happy to see different perspectives on this topic.
      Another example that comes to mind is French captain, Zidane, who is most probably the greatest footballer ever. On his day, what he could do on the soccer field is out of the ordinary. But his reaction in the last World Cup final when he head butted the Italian player, Materazzi, is unacceptable. While that may not prevent him from getting football related awards, but a Padmashri equivalent award will set a wrong example to people.
      And being aggressive is a tit for tat when you show restraint. just because the aussies are aggressive and sledge heavily, doesn’t mean, you are doing a great thing by resorting to jingoisms. India’s most aggressive, most talented player, Tendulkar is feared by opposition and I think the entire team needs to learn how he is able to handle the pressure and yet retaliate only with his bat instead of bringing shame to the game and our country.

  6. glad u brought up Zidane’s example. We do need to distinguish between basically decent gentlemen , who blow up just once , from arrogant, obnoxious guys who habitually play near the boundary between actionable and non-complainable behaviour.

  7. Just read the Zidane related comments now. I agree with preceding – he was a gentleman – and I believe the reports which say that he did the head bang because of really offensive words about his family. Compare that with slapping and unnecessary ma-ki monkey by bajji – well!

    Ranga: Bhajji even made a comment after a great Indo-Aus series that the entire series was abt the ‘battle’ between him and Aussie crowds. I think we should sideline him and groom youngsters like Ojha, Mishra etc.

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