The nation honoured numerous deserving individuals at the Padma Awards ceremony on Wednesday at Rashtrapati Bhavan, but what stood out was UK first lady Akshata Murthy's presence and Bidri craft artist Shah Rasheed Ahmed Quadri's laudatory remarks about Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Akshata was seated in the middle row with her father Narayana Murthy, brother Rohan Murthy and Sudha Murthy’s sister. She was there as her mother was being conferred with Padma Bhushan for social work. There was no British security accompanying Akshata at the event.
Prior to the start of the program, she was quickly moved to the front row and seated next to External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar after sensing protocol. Along with Jaishankar, the families of Union Minister Anurag Thakur and Vice President Jagdeep Dhankhar were also seated in the same row.
The President had approved the conferment of 106 Padma awards, including three duo cases (in a duo case, the award is counted as one), on the eve of this year's Republic Day.
A total of 53 awardees were given the honour on Wednesday -- three Padma Vibhushan, five Padma Bhushan and 45 Padma Shri.
The other distinguished personalities were given the awards on March 22.
Padma awards are conferred in three categories -- Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan and Padma Shri. India's top civilian award, the Bharat Ratna, has not been given to anyone since 2019.
The awards are given in various disciplines and fields of activities such as art, social work, public affairs, science and engineering, trade and industry, medicine, literature and education, sports and civil service among others.
Padma Vibhushan, the country's second-highest civilian award, is given for exceptional and distinguished service; Padma Bhushan for distinguished service of high order; and Padma Shri for distinguished service in any field.
Many of the awardees are unsung heroes who have been silently working for the betterment of society and people, and whom the Narendra Modi government has been honouring ever since it came to power in 2014, officials said.
(With PTI inputs)