Shouldn’t we just junk the Padma awards?


Ajay Singh | January 27, 2010

Sant Singh Chatwal: In the eye of the storm
Sant Singh Chatwal: In the eye of the storm

It’s been a while since the highest civilian awards of the country, the Padmas, have lost their sheen. From being “bestowed” on the most deserving citizens who bring laurels to the country, these awards have become the most “besotted”. For many years now all kinds of undeserving persons have been making it to the list, thus belittling not just the awards, but the greatness of the other deserving awardees. It has come to such a pass that the awards, eagerly awaited once upon time, have been reduced to an annual ritual of the government distributing favours.

But this year’s awards announcement has shocked even those who have stopped taking these awards seriously. The inclusion of US-based hotelier Sant Singh Chatwal is a dishonor to the awards. Firstly, Chatwal is hardly known in this country. And, secondly, those who know him know him only because of his dubious credentials. Chatwal figures in four charge-sheets filed by the CBI in a $9 million fraud. He was briefly detained in Mumbai but was let off because of the influence he wields in the corridors of power.

The Congress party, who’s government has thought it fit to put Chatwal’s name among many other notables (thank god governments get some things right), has deflected the questions to the latter. And that government does not think it is necessary to tell the people of this country why Chatwal is worthy of the honour. On the one hand, Congress president Sonia Gandhi says people with criminal records should not be allowed to contest elections and on the other, her government gives the highest national honour to a chargesheeted person.

No wonder respectable people such as Janaki Ballabh Shastri, a Hindi poet from Muzaffarpur, have stopped holding these awards in esteem. Mr Shastri has declined to accept the Padma Shri at the age of 80 years. In his view, all these awards are hardly recognition of anyone's work and have become irrelevant. It is clear that people are losing faith in the awards and the really deserving have no pride in sharing the company of the Chatwals of the Padma awards.

Governments need to restore the Padma’s to the stature they once enjoyed. But since no government seems in mood for that, we think the Padma’s should be scrpped.

Do you think the Padma awards should be scrapped?



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