Instituted in 1954, Padma Awards are announced every year on the occasion of Republic Day. The award is given in three categories — Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan, Padma Shri.

Padma Awards recognise works of distinction and are conferred on the selected people for “distinguished and exceptional achievements/service in all fields of activities/disciplines”.

Padma Vibhushan is given to people acknowledging their “exceptional and distinguished service” in their chosen field, while Padma Bhushan is given for “distinguished service of a high order”, and Padma Shri for “distinguished service”.

A Padma Shri awardee can be at a later stage get a higher Padma Award but not before five years have elapsed. Similar rule applies to a Padma Bhushan awardee too.

The awards presented by the President of India carry a certificate signed by the President and a medallion, along with a small replica of the medallion that the awardees can wear to any ceremonial or state function id they wish to.

The total number of awards given in a year should not exceed 120, excluding posthumous awards and those given to NRIs, foreigners or overseas citizens of India.

Posthumous Padma Awards are given only in “highly deserving cases”.

According to the Padma Awards rules, the recipients cannot use the award as a title, suffixing or prefixing it to their names.

READ | Padma Awards 2019: Check complete list

Padma Awards categories 

  • Art (music, painting, sculpture, photography, cinema, theatre etc.)
    Social Work (social service, charitable service, contribution in community projects etc)
  • Public Affairs (law, public life, politics etc)
  • Science & Engineering (space engineering, nuclear science, IT, research & development in science and allied subjects etc)
  • Trade & Industry (banking, economic activities, management, promotion of tourism, business etc)
  • Medicine (medical research, distinction/specialization in Ayurveda, Homeopathy, Sidhha, Allopathy, Naturopathy etc)
  • Literature & Education (journalism, teaching, book composing, literature, poetry, promotion of education, promotion of literacy, education reforms etc.)
  • Civil Service (distinction/excellence in administration etc by Government servants)
  • Sports (popular sports, athletics, adventure, mountaineering, promotion of sports, Yoga etc)
  • Others (fields not covered above and may include propagation of Indian culture, protection of human rights, wild life protection/conservation etc.)

Who decides Padma Awards?

The Prime Minister constitutes a Padma Awards Committee every year, and all the nominations are placed before it. The Padma Awards Committee is headed by the Cabinet Secretary and also comprises Home Secretary, Secretary to the President and four to six eminent personalities as members. Their recommendations are submitted to the PM and the President for final approval.

Padma Awards Selection Criteria

Recommendations are invited every year from 1 May to 15 September from the governments of all states and UTs, ministries and departments, Bharat Ratna and Padma Vibhushan awardees and institutes of excellence. Central and state ministers, chief ministers, governors, MPs, private individuals and organisations can send recommendations too. All these recommendations are then placed before the Padma Awards Committee, which usually looks for life time achievement of the recommended names while making a selection.

The selection rule mandates that there “ought to be an element of public service in the achievements of the person to be selected” as the award is given for “special services” and not just “long service”.

The selected persons are subjected to verification by investigating
agencies to ensure their character and antecedents are above board.

Padma Awards Nomination Process for Citizens

The government also allows common citizens to submit nominations for Padma Awards. The nominations, when invited, can be submitted online on the official Padma Awards website padmaawards.gov.in.