CHENNAI: Former chief election commissioner N Gopalaswami, a native of Mannargudi in Cauvery delta who spent much of his years as a bureaucrat in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Gujarat, was not expecting the Padma honour that came by his way on the eve of Republic Day.
A person with wide interests ranging from cricket to classical music to public administration and Vedanta, Gopalaswami was conferred with Padma Bhushan, the third highest civilian honour in India, on Sunday.
“It feels great...It always feel great when one’s work is recognised. But I was not expecting it at all until The New Indian Express hinted at it a few days ago,” he told Express.
Gopalaswami was recently appointed as the chairman of Kalakshetra Foundation after the incumbent, former West Bengal governor, Gopalkrishna Gandhi resigned.
If Gopalaswami was surprised, noted atomic scientist and technocrat, MR Srinivasan, who got the Padma Vibhushan, was a tad disappointed that that it came late.
“I have to say that it has been delayed; I received Padma Bhushan way back in 1990. But it is welcome nevertheless,” he told Express over phone on Sunday night.
“This is a collective recognition of the work of a large number of engineers, workers, scientists and designers working in the nuclear power stations with me,” he said. This was the first time a technocrat from the field civilian nuclear sector was chosen for the honour, he pointed out.
The Padma awardees from Tamil Nadu included Kanyakumari Avasarala, a soft-spoken violinist who let her music do the talking for over four decades.
“It is such an honour to receive the Padma Shri. I am blessed and grateful to everyone from my family, teachers and God who made this happen,” she said. Alumni of Queen Mary’s College, Kanyakumari has the Sangeet Natak Akademi and Kalaimamani among the several awards to her credit.
The three others awardees from Tamil Nadu are Carnatic vocalist Sudha Ragunathan (Padma Bhushan) and civil servants P V Rajaraman and Late R Vasudevan (Padma Shri).