While civilian awards are meant to honour citizens with noteworthy achievements, the flawed selection criteria leaves a bad taste in the mouth of the richly deserving kind. How come sportspersons & film-folk are accorded the same honour as literary giants, scholars & explorers???
Sania Mirza is barely twenty & with a fairly limited set of achievements has a PadmaShri to her name. Others such as Leander Paes, Azhar, Shabana Azmi & Sachin Tendulkar too have received Padma Shris. No doubt they've made contributions on the world stage, but these are all transient achievements (with the exception of Sachin Tendulkar). Their work will not live on for years to come and will in all probability have no great social impact.
Compare this to the lifelong work of people like Pt. Vishwa Mohan Bhatt, Dr. Zahoor Qasim and Ali Jawad Zaidi, giants in their own fields, people who put India on the International map in fields like music, oceanography and literature as opposed to sports!
Others like Kaifi Azmi too received a PadmaShri. As did his daughter Shabana & son-in-law Javed Akhtar. Both of them will willingly acknowledge the superiority of Kaifi's brilliance over their own achievements. Yet the Govt. clubbed Kaifi's literary achievements with their (in comparision) dabbles in art?
I'm not belittling sport or cinema here; I'm just saying that most of civilized society will rate the Sistine Chapel over all of Navratilova's Wimbledon crowns! And over Citizen Kane or any other movie you please! And this comes from a die hard Tennis enthusiast! One who had to confirm the spelling of the aforesaid chapel on the net before hitting publish! Yet I realize that science & art has always held sway over sport for some reason.
So why are our awards lopsided? It's bad enough that we have so-called popular awards. Must our Govt. of India awards pander to popular taste too???
I don't want to make any random allegations, but a close look at the Padma Shri recipients list & Padma Bhushan recipients list does seem to point to the existence of lobbying. The more powerful a recommendation/lobbying, the better your chances of an award. As with everything else in the hands of the Indian Govt, I guess...
There is a story about of Ali Jawad Zaidi being shortchanged because of a recommendation/clerical error. He was supposed to have been awarded the Padma Bhushan but erroneously his name made it to the Padma Shri list. Genuine artists are never bothered by such things & Ali Jawad Zaidi let it go. But shouldn't someone in the department have been bothered enough to correct the error?
Why does everything in India seem so warped to me?
I dunno if ranting bloggers like me will help but I sure hope that leaders like Manmohan Singh, young blood like Rahul, Sachin & Jyoti and initiatives like Lead India bring more fairness & transparency into our system.