Padma Awards 2024: Meet the unsung heroes of India

Centre announces the awards on the eve of Republic Day

Gurvinder Singh, Jageshwar Yadav and Chami Murmu Gurvinder Singh, Jageshwar Yadav and Chami Murmu

On the eve of the 75th Republic Day, the Centre on Thursday announced the Padma awards. Here are some of the unsung heroes who won the prestigious awards this year.

Parbati Baruah | Assam

India’s 1st female elephant mahout, who overcame stereotypes to create a space for herself in a traditionally male-dominated field.

She stood out for her commitment towards mitigating human-elephant conflict with help of application of scientific practices - assisted 3 state governments to tackle and capture wild elephants

Inheriting the skill from her father, she started at the age of 14 – her relentless efforts over 4 decades have played a vital role in saving & shaping the lives of many rogue tuskers

Despite coming from a well-off background, she chose to live a simple life, dedicating it to serve the complex yet playful creature

Jageshwar Yadav | Chhattisgarh

Tribal Welfare Worker from Jashpur who dedicated his life for the upliftment of marginalized Birhor & Pahadi Korwa people

Established Ashram in Jashpur that worked for eradicating illiteracy and elevating healthcare standards by setting up camps

Facilitated vaccinations during pandemic, addressing hesitancy – also helped reducing infant mortality

Despite financial hardships, his passion remained to bring about social change

Chami Murmu | Jharkhand

Tribal Environmentalist and Women empowerment champion from Seraikela Kharsawan

Spearheaded afforestation efforts planting over 30 lakh plants with 3,000 women

Ushered socio-economic change by empowering over 30,000 women across 40+ villages through formation of numerous SHGs & providing employment opportunities

Through her NGO 'Sahayogi Mahila’, initiated impactful programs in safe motherhood, anemia & malnutrition, & emphasized adolescent girls' education

Her relentless campaign against illegal logging, timber mafia & naxal activities & dedication towards protecting wildlife & forests has made her a force to recon with

Gurvinder Singh | Haryana

Divyang Social Worker from Sirsa who worked for betterment of homeless, destitute, women, orphans and divyangjan

With his unwavering dedication, he nurtured 300 children dreams by setting up a child care institute named Bal Gopal Dham

Provided free ambulance services to over 6,000 accident victims and pregnant women

Paralyzed waist down after being hit by truck & confined to a wheelchair for life, he channelized his personal tragedy to work for welfare of others.

Sathyanarayana Beleri | Kerala

Rice farmer from Kasaragod, who evolved into a guardian of paddy crop by preserving over 650 traditional rice varieties

Successfully introduced 'Rajakayame' rice, boosting production and conservation across 3 states - Karnataka, Kerala & Tamil Nadu

Through 15 years of hardwork, innovated technique, 'Polybag Method’ – conserved not only indigenous rice varieties but also traditional seeds of arecanut, nutmeg and black pepper

Fostered research and conservation by providing 50 rice varieties to research centers and distributed free rice seeds to farmers

Dukhu Majhi | West Bengal

Tribal Environmentalist from Sindri village, Purulia

Planted over 5,000 Banyan, Mango and Blackberry trees on barren land, while traveling to new destinations on his bicycle every day

Raised awareness about tree planting and featured in the documentary 'Rukhu Mati Dukhu Majhi'

Working for a greener tomorrow since the age of 12

Could not complete his education due to financial constraints, but that did not stop him from coming up with innovative solutions for protecting and safeguarding

against wood theft and spreading awareness about the importance of trees

K. Chellammal | Andaman & Nicobar

Organic Farmer from South Andaman, successfully developed a 10 acre organic farm

Used intercropping method for cultivation of crops like Clove, Ginger, Pineapples, Banana and motivated more than 150 farmers to adopt it

Devised innovative & economical solutions for coconut & palm trees damage control measures - harvested over 27,000 coconuts per annum &

cultivated 2 hectares of coconut plantation with 460 palms of Andaman Ordinary Tall variety

Studied till class 6, but innovating in farming for past 5 decades with commitment and enthusiasm

Sangthankima | Mizoram

Social worker from Aizawl who has been running Mizoram's largest orphanage 'Thutak Nunpuitu Team’

Over the course of 3 decades, addressed issues related to children's welfare, addiction, HIV-AIDS awareness, education, and other civic issues

Continuously providing shelter and rehabilitation services to orphans, divyangjan, drug addicts, and alcoholics

Worked for North Eastern communities and Burmese through his rehabilitation centres in 4 districts of Assam

Hemchand Manjhi | Chhattisgarh

A traditional medicinal practitioner from Narayanpur, providing affordable healthcare to villagers for over 5 decades, having started serving the needy since the age of 15

Known for his special knowledge of herbs in remote forests of Abujhmarh

Charges meagre amount to treat patients suffering from varied diseases

Despite repeated threats & personal attacks by Naxals, he continued to serve people with sincerity and zeal

Yanung Jamoh Lego | Arunachal Pradesh

East Siang based herbal medicine expert who has provided medical care to over 10,000 patients, educated 1 lakh individuals on medicinal herbs and trained SHGs in their use

Planted over 5,000 medicinal plants annually & promoted setting up of herbal kitchen gardens in every household across the district

Despite financial constraints & personal challenges, she dedicated her life for revival of the lost traditional healing system of Adi tribe in particular & the entire Arunachal Pradesh as a whole – becoming instrumental in keeping the traditional knowledge of medicines alive

Somanna | Karnataka

Tribal Welfare Worker from Mysuru, tirelessly working for upliftment of Jenu Kuruba tribe for over 4 decades

Assisted in acquiring title deeds to ensure the legal recognition and protection of more than 500 tribal communities residing in forest areas

His social work extended to environmental conservation, emphasizing the importance of preserving natural habitats

Jenu Kuruba is a honey collecting tribe from Nilgiris with around 40,000 inhabitants

Previously a bonded labourer, he realised the true importance of freedom and rights and went on to dedicate his life to advocating for the rights of tribals

Sarbeswar Basumatary | Assam

Tribal Farmer from Chirang who successfully adopted mixed integrated farming approach and cultivated varieties of crops like coconuts, oranges, paddy, litchis and maize

Demonstrating a community-focused approach, he transmitted his knowledge and learnings to other farmers, helping increase efficiency and uplift livelihoods

Once a daily wage labourer, his enduring spirit and enthusiasm has become a role model for the agricultural community – despite lacking any formal education and against heavy odds

Prema Dhanraj | Karnataka

Plastic (Reconstructive) Surgeon & Social Worker, dedicated to the care and rehabilitation of burn victims - her legacy extending beyond surgery, championing burn prevention, awareness and policy reform

Founded Agni Raksha NGO, provided free surgery to 25,000 burn victims + Authored 3 books on Plastic Surgery

As part of her global humanitarian efforts, established Ethiopia's 1st burns unit, and educated doctors in Kenya, Tanzania, Norway, Ethiopia

A survivor of 50% burns at age of 8 (when a stove burst on her face while playing in the kitchen), she triumphed over personal tragedy to become a driving force of change

She underwent more than 14 surgeries as a child at Christian Medical College Vellore - and went on to become a Surgeon & HoD in the same hospital

Uday Vishwanath Deshpande | Maharashtra

International Mallakhamb Coach, who worked relentlessly in reviving, revitalizing and popularizing the sport at global level

Personally trained over 5,000 people from 50 countries - introduced Mallakhamb to diverse groups including women, divyangjan, orphans, tribals and senior citizens

As director of Vishwa Mallakhamb Federation, played a pivotal role in contributing significantly to it’s international reach

Created a rule-book with criteria of judgement and competition and standardizing all regulations which was recognized by Indian Olympic Association

Yazdi Maneksha Italia | Gujarat

Renowned Microbiologist who pioneered development of India's inaugural Sickle Cell Anemia Control Program (SCACP)

Pioneered newborn screening through heel prick dry blood samples in collaboration with ICMR - prevented & controlled new births with SCD by screening 2 lakh tribals

Screened more than 95 lakh tribal individuals across Gujarat, identifying 7.2 lakh Sickle Cell trait cases, and issuing color-coded cards for effective counselling

Shanti Devi Paswan & Shivan Paswan | Bihar

Husband-wife from Dusadh community, who overcame social stigma to become globally recognized Godna painters - exhibiting artwork in countries like USA, Japan and Hong Kong and training over 20,000 women

Painting themes are centered on epics and legends of Dusadh community, with Raja Sailesh (chief deity of community) as a key character

Shanti Devi, who was once refused drinking water in village because of her caste, went on to showcase her talent on global stage at G20 Summit in India

Despite facing financial constraints, Shivan continued to paint and impart the skill to young people

Ratan Kahar | West Bengal

Renowned Bhadu Folk Singer from Birbhum, has devoted over 60 years to folk music

Known for captivating roles in Jatra Folk theatre

Specializing in Bhadu festival songs and genres like Tuşu, Jhumur, and Alkab

Propogates Bhadu songs which are sung on each night of the Bhadu festival

His composition 'Boro Loker Biti Lo’ is popular

Despite financial hardship and coming from a family of labourers, he started singing at the age of 16 and has left a indelible mark

Ashok Kumar Biswas | Bihar

Prolific Tikuli Painter credited for revival and modification of the Mauryan era artform through his efforts over last 5 decades

Creating thousands of designs & exported countless paintings

Providing free training to women & girls - trained more than 8,000 female artists

Popularised the art Nationally as well as Internationally by showcasing work in more than 100 exhibitions in 5 countries

Left his job and dedicated his life for reviving the Tikuli art

Balakrishnan Sadanam Puthiya Veetil | Kerala

Distinguished Kalluvazhi Kathakali Dancer with a career spanning over 60 years - earning global acclaim and promoting a deeper understanding of Indian traditions

Graced 30 national / international festivals across 25 countries

As a choreographer and producer, crafted more than 35 new plays and adapted Shakespeare into Kathakali plays

His literary contribution included compilation of 14 Aattakathakal or Kathakali texts, enumerating stories from Puranas and Greek tragedies

Considered a sought after and respected Guru, passing on the true essence to future generations - many of his disciples have now become accomplished performers

Started as a Senior Artist at a Dance Institute in Delhi in 1974, later became it’s Director by 1980

Uma Maheshwari D | Andhra Pradesh

1st Female Harikatha Exponent, has showcased her skill in Sanskrit recitation

Recites Kathas in multiple ragas such as Savitri, Bhairavi, Subhapantuvarali, Kedaram, Kalyani

Proficient in Telugu and Sanskrit - authored over four Harikathas, covering figures like Ramana Maharshi and Potti Sriramul

Her contribution has encouraged many young girls to come out of barriers of tradition and adopt the art

From family of musicians, grandchild of renowned Nadaswara Vidwan late Daliparti Pichihari

Gopinath Swain | Odisha

Krishna Leela Singer from Ganjam, dedicated his life to preserve and promote the tradition

His commitment to traditional techniques and improvisational methods breathed life into Krishna Leela, created a bridge between past and present

Sang & taught 5 ancient ragas - Dakhinasri + Chinta Desakhya + Todi Bhatiari + Bhatiari + Kumbha Kamodi

Established Akhadas (traditional village schools) and imparted his knowledge to hundreds of disciples -

Despite old age, he has been teaching and propagating this unique art, scouting talent from across Southern Odisha

Smriti Rekha Chakma | Tripura

Chakma Loinloom Shawl Weaver from Tripura, who transforms eco-friendly vegetables dyed cotton threads into traditional designs, promoting the use of natural dyes

Established Ujeia Jadha, a socio cultural organization to impart training to rural women in the art of weaving

Continues the process of travelling into forests to procure roots, seeds, herbs or leaves for the dye, before it gets into the whole process of drying, crushing & getting

the colour

She spent her childhood watching her grandmother weave on the loinloom (one of the oldest weaving machine) using traditional Naga methods, and now imparts training to younger generation

Omprakash Sharma | Madhya Pradesh

Mach Theatre Artist who has devoted 7 decades of his life to promote this 200 year old traditional dance drama of the Malwa region

Penned scripts for Mach theater productions and re-crafted Sanskrit plays into Mach style

Serving as an educator, trained students at NSD Delhi and Bharat Bhavan Bhopal, passing on his expertise in the art form

Coming from a humble background, had learned the artform from his father under Ustaad Kaluram Mach Akhada

Narayanan E.P.

Veteran Theyyam Folk Dancer from Kannur - mastery extending beyond dance to the entire Theyyam ecosystem including costume designing & face painting techniques

Began his 6 decade-long career at 5 yrs, showcased art in 300 performances across 20 variants of Theyyam

Theyyam is an ancient folk ritual combining theatre, music, mime and dance, generally performed in front of the village shrine - performed with musical instruments

like Chenda, Elathalam, Kurumkuzal

Gave performances in 100 Kaavus (ritual locations)

Started off as a driver, now dedicatedly working towards conserving this Art form

Bhagabat Padhan | Odisha

Exponent of Sabda Nrutya Folk dance from Bargarh, who has taken the dance form beyond the temples

Dedicated over 5 decades of his life to preserve and popularise the art which is considered the dance of Mahadev

His lifelong efforts contributed significantly in sustaining this dance form - including training more than 600 dancers

Worked as Lower Primary School teacher during 1960s, faced financial challenge, but never gave up devotion towards his art

Sanatan Rudra Pal | West Bengal

Distinguished sculptor with over 5 decades of experience, preserving and promoting the traditional art form - specializes in crafting Sabeki Durga idols

His work has become an integral part of the annual Durga Puja celebrations, with his clay sculptures adorning more than 30 pandals each year

Garnered recognition from UNESCO for his idols

Providing employment to over 1,500 individuals

Coming from a family of idol makers, he embraced crafting a one of a kind style that showcased impressive idols with captivating, radiant eyes.

Badrappan M | Tamil Nadu

Exponent of Valli Oyil Kummi Folk Dance from Coimbatore - a mixed form of song and dance performance which depicts the stories of deities 'Muruggan' and 'Valli’

Addresses social issues though dance - spreads knowledge regarding Indian history & mythology

Though predominantly a male-dominated art form, Badrappan believed in women empowerment and thus broke the tradition and trained women artists

Jordan Lepcha | Sikkim

Bamboo Craftsman from Mangan, who is nurturing the cultural heritage of Lepcha tribe

Preserving the ancient craft of weaving traditional Lepcha hats and bamboo crafts for last 25 years

A skilled artisan and dedicated trainer, imparted his knowledge to over 150 youths from different parts of Sikkim - many of whom now sustain themselves by establishing their own Bamboo Crafts

He is also a marginal farmer and carpenter

Machihan Sasa | Manipur

Longpi Potter from Ukhrul who dedicated 5 decades to preserve this ancient Manipuri traditional pottery which traces its roots back to the Neolithic period (10,000 BC)

Longpi Pottery is a rare pottery form which uses black serpentine stone and brown clay without a wheel

Created, marketed and exhibited varieties of Longpi Pottery products such as cooking pots, teacups, etc - infusing new designs inspired by Manipuri folk art

Trained over 300 individuals, that not only helped in reviving the art form but also create a sustainable income source for the villagers

Gaddam Sammaiah | Telangana

Eminent Chindu Yakshaganam Theatre Artist from Jangaon, performing this rich heritage art form for over 5 decades over 19,000 shows

Addresses social issues such as total literacy, environmental protection

Founded Chindu Yaksha Kalakarula Sangham & Gaddam Sammaiah Yuva Kala Skethram to promote this art

Hailing from a humble background had worked as an agriculture labourer - learnt the artform from his parents who were both Chindu Yakshaganam artists

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