Karnataka's Padmas: Tale of toil and grit

Scientists, writers, artistes and doctors dominate the list of Padma Shri awardees from Karnataka.

Bengaluru: Karnataka shines in the list of Padma awardees, which was published by the Central Government on Monday. Spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravishankar and former DRDO chief Dr Vasudev Kalkunte Aatre are among the ten names chosen for the Padma Vibhushan, the second highest civilian award after the Bharat Ratna.

Danseuse Prathibha Prahlad tops the list of Padma Shri awardees. Scientists, writers, artistes and doctors dominate the list of Padma Shri awardees from Karnataka, including prominent ISRO scientist Dr Mylswamy Annadurai, Director, ISAC (Indian Satellite Centre) and the face of the Indian space programme. Dr M.M. Joshi, orthopaedic surgeon Prof (Dr) John Ebnezar and yoga guru Dr. H.R. Nagendra have also done the state proud this year in the same category.

Dr V.K. Aatre
Dr Vasudeva Kalkunte Aatre, one of India's top defence scientists, has been chosen for the Padma Vibhushan, the country's highest civilian honour. His immediate reaction was to thank his bosses, his colleagues and his juniors, all of whom “have worked superbly” to achieve something substantial, “notwithstanding the comments the DRDO receives”. His Monday evening was spent being inundated by calls from friends and well-wishers and as an elated Dr Aatre says, “I’m delighted to have been recognised, ten years after I retired from service.” Moreover, he feels that the sheer number of scientists among this year's Padma awardees augurs well for the community as a whole. "Obviously, the government's attitude toward technology has undergone a transformation,” he told Deccan Chronicle. "Never before has there been such a long lineup of scientists on the list of Padma awardees."

Dr Aatre joined the Naval Physical & Oceanographic Laboratory, DRDO, in Cochin in 1980 and went on to become the Chief COntroller (R&D) of the organisation. In 2000, he replaced Dr Abdul Kalam as the DRDO’s Director General. He has, over the course of his career, played a vital role in the developement of a wide spectrum of electronic technology and displayed a deep involvement in human resource development within the DRDO. He spearheaded the development of underwater technology for the Navy through the design and making of state-of-the-art transducer and sonar suits. It was through his vision and leadership that the first indigenous, well-instrumented ocean acoustic research ship (Sagardhwani) was constructed.

"I returned to India after 20 years abroad and at the time, all I received was negative feedback. India was being written off in every way," Dr Aatre said. "People said that nothing could be achieved here. However, I found that if you are passionately involved in something, you can achieve what you want. At the same time, if someone asks me if I could have done better, I would say yes, always. If you reach a day when you think you can't do better, then there is something very wrong with that!"

Not all of his colleagues over the years came from the best institutions, he said, "but they put their might together." The DRDO has, on several occasions, been accused of corruption and even of being slightly boastful of its accomplishments. Dr Aatre, who has never shied away from answering these claims, said, "The LCA and the electronic warfare programme are top-of-the-line, even by global standards. The award shows that we have finally achieved something worth recognising.”

Dr Mylswamy Annadurai
“A satellite a month, that's my target," beamed Dr. Mylswamy Annadurai, Director of ISAC (ISRO Satellite Centre), shortly after he was conferred with the Padma Shri, one of India's most prestigious civilian awards. Dr Annadurai, who served as Project Director for Chandrayaan I, the country's first lunar probe and for the Mars Orbiter Mission, is the face of India's now illustrious space programme. Dr Annadurai, whose delight was palpable, even over the phone, said, "It's definitely a happy moment for me. After 38 years of service, this is a good recognition by the nation.”

Dr Annadurai, who finished his education in Coimbatore, joined ISRO in 1982. He began his career at ISAC (ISRO Satellite Centre) as a team leader to develop and design the Software Satellite Simulator. Between 1992 and 2005, he led the satellite mission team and managed eight INSAT Missions as the Mission Director, bringing about ground automation for satellite operations. One of his most crucial contributions was the realisation of Chandrayaan-I, which received the prestigious Space Pioneer Award in 2009. In 2011, he became the Programme Director of Indian Remote Sensing Satellites and Small Satellite Systems, during which time he realised five projects.

He is also famously known for the Mars Orbiter Mission, which has been orbiting Mars since September 24, 2014. ISRO is the fourth space agency to reach Mars and India has the distinction of being the first country to do so in its first attempt.

Dr S.L. Bhyrappa
Reacting on getting Padma Shri Award, noted Litterateur, Saraswathi Samman Award winner, Dr S. L Bhyrappa said. “I am detached from all these awards and honours. I derive my pleasure from when I write something and revise what I have written and the joy that the readers get. Therefore, this award means nothing to me, although I don't mean to belittle its award in any way." When he was asked about growing intolerance and authors everywhere returning their awards, he said, "It is political strife, begun by the Opposition party, during the Bihar elections. They are driven by PM Narendra Modi's growing popularity. There are no noble intentions behind it. Writers of today are not neutral, they have slipped into activist-mode.”

HR Nagendra
After his name appeared on the list of Padma Shri awardees on the eve of Republic Day, yoga guru H.R. Nagendra, said, “This award is a
recognition to my institute - Swamy Vivekananda yoga Anusandhana Samsthana (VYASA) and to the discipline of yoga itself... I thank the central government for recognising the institute and the ancient discipline of yoga through this award.”

Madhu Pandita Dasa
Social activist and Padma Shri Awardee Madhu Pandita Dasa said, “I dedicate this award to Srila Prabhupada, a true visionary who was dedicated to creating a hunger-free world. This award will give immense encouragement to the Akshaya Patra team. The award is a recognition of our humble service and has inspired the team to reach out to many more hungry children across India.”

Honour someone else: Guru rejected award last year
Exactly a year ago, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar of Art of Living (AoL) declined to accept the Padma award. He had stated then, “Rajnath Singhji called to inform me about Padma awards.

I thank the government for considering me. Instead of me, I’d like them to honour someone else.” But this year again, the Union government has selected him for the Padma Vibhushan award, the second highest civilian award in the country.

Interestingly, no one from the state has been chosen for the Padma Bhushan award, which is the third highest civilian award. Of the nine eminent achievers selected for the Padma Shri, many are known BJP sympathisers.

Mr S.S. Rajamouli, a well-known Telugu film director and of Bahubali film fame, has come under the Karnataka quota. That is only because he was born in Gangavathi town of Koppal district.

Prof. S.L. Bhyrappa, a popular Kannada writer, is known for his RSS and BJP leanings. But on Monday, he took pains to clarify that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was not behind his award. In 2004, just before the general elections,

Mr Bhyrappa held a press conference to support Mr Modi. Recently, he had also criticised writers and artists for returning their awards, alleging intolerance.

Other award winners include Prof. M. Venkatesh Kumar (Folk Arts), Dr. M.M. Joshi (Medicine-Hubballi), Prof. (Dr) John Ebnezar (Medicine-Bengaluru).

( Source : deccan chronicle )
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