Ashoka, who has known Deepa for many years, said that now she is a Padma Shri recipient. Those who have followed my columns here and elsewhere would be familiar with my disdain for any system of state awards. Notwithstanding some very remarkable individuals who have won the awards in India, I have major problems with the opaqueness of the selection process associated with it apart from my belief that it is not a valid component of statecraft to confer honours. The United States does not entertain them and in the United Kingdom, presumably from where we borrowed the system, it has recently come under intense criticism. He added, “But I must confess to a sense of delight and special pride when I received a telephone call today apprising me of Deepa’s award. I do not believe there would be anyone who would question her credentials. If anyone deserved this award, it was her! I know it would mean an awful lot not just for her but also for her family.” Different Truths congratulates Deepa – and other Padma Awardees – on this occasion. Here’s a report.
I had penned a column in this very portal when Deepa Malik was about to embark on her journey to Rio de Janeiro to take part in the Paralympics1 . The Olympics immediately prior to this event that were held in the same metropolis had seen a large Indian contingent which had by and large not lived up to the expectations. It was at this stage Deepa and the other contestants who had been selected to represent the country to be patient and promised that they would come back with medals.
And they lived upto the promise. Indian came back with a rich haul of medals which was all the more remarkable as training facilities for the differently abled in India can at best be described as rudimentary. All credit to the bunch who were able to make good their promise through sheer hard work and determination.
Amongst the medal winners was Deepa! That made her the first Indian woman to win a silver medal in the Paralympics. And she did so at the age of 46.
I have already written about her remarkable journey in my previous column on her. But it is not widely known that Deepa had to fight a legal battle to get into the squad. Another potential candidate, much younger than her, had staked her claim very strongly and it was only after the court ruling that Deepa was able to become part of the team. Legal battles in India are protracted affairs and it is gain to her credit that she did not allow this distraction to compromise in any way her very rigorous schedule.
In this endeavour, she was ably supported by her husband Bikram, a retired Army colonel who devised a very strict training schedule. Her daughters Devika and Ambika also played a very crucial role. It was Devika who took it upon herself to fight the legal battle and Ambika supervised the very strict nutritional regime. It is, therefore, understandable when Deepa claims that it was a family endeavour rather than a solo endeavour on her part. We must also remember that Devika herself is a Paralympic participant having sustained a palsy in her left arm as a toddler. While she was not a part of the Indian squad for this Paralympics, she has won international accolades for her superlative feats in different international meets.
Doubtless, she derives her inspiration from her remarkable Mum! I would stand corrected but I think Deepa and Ambika are the only mother-daughter duo competing in para-sports together. Devika waited for her mother’s successful return delaying her departure to the Loughborough University to commence her doctoral work in sports psychology.
And now she is a Padma Shri recipient. Those who have followed my columns here and elsewhere would be familiar with my disdain for any system of state awards. Notwithstanding some very remarkable individuals who have won the awards in India, I have major problems with the opaqueness of the selection process associated with it apart from my belief that it is not a valid component of statecraft to confer honours. The United States does not entertain them and in the United Kingdom, presumably from where we borrowed the system, it has recently come under intense criticism.
But I must confess to a sense of delight and special pride when I received a telephone call today apprising me of Deepa’s award. I do not believe there would be anyone who would question her credentials. If anyone deserved this award, it was her! I know it would mean an awful lot not just for her but also for her family.
I would therefore warmly congratulate Deepa and extend my fondest blessings and fervently hope that this would spur her to even higher echelons. It is not Deepa but Padma Shri that has been elevated!
The Padma Award winners of 2017 are:
|Awardee||Field of Prominence|
|Sharad Pawar||Public Affairs|
|Murli Manohar Joshi||Public Affairs|
|P.A. Sangma (posthumous)||Public Affairs|
|Sunder Lal Patwah (posthumous)||Public Affairs|
|K.J.Yesudas||Art – Music|
|Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev||Others – Spiritualism|
|Udipi Ramachandra Rao||Science & Engineering|
|Awardee||Field of Prominence|
|Vishwa Mohan Bhatt||Art – Music|
|Devi Prasad Dwivedi||Literature & Education|
|Ratna Sundar Maharaj||Others-Spiritualism|
|Swami Niranjana Nanda Saraswati||Others-Yoga|
|H.R.H. Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn (Foreigner)||Literature & Education|
|Cho Ramaswamy (Posthumous)||Literature & Education –Journalism|
|Awardee||Field of Prominence|
|Chemanchery Kunhiraman Nair||Art-Dance|
|T K Murthy||Art-Music|
|Laishram Birendrakumar Singh||Art-Music|
|Krishna Ram Chaudhary||Art-Music|
|Aekka Yadagiri Rao||Art-Sculpture|
|Parassala B Ponnammal||Art-Music|
|Wareppa Naba Nil||Art-Theatre|
|Tripuraneni Hanuman Chowdary||Civil Service|
|T.K. Viswanathan||Civil Service|
|Kanwal Sibal||Civil Service|
|Birkha Bahadur Limboo Muringla||Literature & Education|
|Eli Ahmed||Literature & Education|
|Narendra Kohli||Literature & Education|
|G. Venkatasubbiah||Literature & Education|
|Akkitham Achyuthan Namboothiri||Literature & Education|
|Kashi Nath Pandita||Literature & Education|
|Chamu Krishna Shastry||Literature & Education|
|Harihar Kripalu Tripathi||Literature & Education|
|Michel Danino||Literature & Education|
|Punam Suri||Literature & Education|
|VG Patel||Literature & Education|
|V Koteswaramma||Literature & Education|
|Balbir Dutt||Literature & Education-Journalism|
|Bhawana Somaaya||Literature & Education-Journalism|
|Vishnu Pandya||Literature & Education-Journalism|
|Mohammed Abdul Waheed||Medicine|
|Madan Madhav Godbole||Medicine|
|Devendra Dayabhai Patel||Medicine|
|Arun Kumar Sharma||Others-Archaeology|
|Meenakshi Amma||Others-Martial Art|
|Genabhai Dargabhai Patel||Others-Agriculture|
|Chandrakant Pithawa||Science & Engineering|
|Ajoy Kumar Ray||Science & Engineering|
|Chintakindi Mallesham||Science & Engineering|
|Jitendra Nath Goswami||Science & Engineering|
|Daripalli Ramaiah||Social Work|
|Girish Bhardwaj||Social Work|
|Karimul Hak||Social Work|
|Bipin Ganatra||Social Work|
|Nivedita Raghunath Bhide||Social work|
|Appasaheb Dharmadhikari||Social Work|
|Baba Balbir Singh Seechewal||Social Work|
|Vikasa Gowda||Sports-Discus Throw|
|P. R. Shreejesh||Sports-Hockey|
|Mohan Reddy Venkatrama Bodanapu||Trade & Industry|
|Imrat Khan (NRI/PIO)||Art-Music|
|Anant Agarwal (NRI/PIO)||Literature & Education|
|H.R. Shah (NRI/PIO)||Literature & Education-Journalism|
|Suniti Solomon (Posthumous)||Medicine|
|Asoke Kumar Bhattacharyya (Posthumous)||Others-Archaeology|
|Dr. Mapuskar (Posthumous)||Social Work|
|Anuradha Koirala (Foreigner)||Social Work|
©Ashoka Jahnavi Prasad
Photos from the internet.