Congress Padmasana is Safe Pose in Election Year
By Express News Service
Published: 05th Jan 2014 07:44:38 AM
In election year, the Congress party and the UPA government is playing safe even with awards. The 95-names shortlist for the 2014 Padma awards accessed exclusively by The Sunday Standard is made up of distinguished, but uncontroversial public figures who have made a mark in various fields including Public Affairs, Literature, Science, Medicine, Social Service and Arts. The glaring missing from the Padma list—usually garnished with glitterati names—are Bollywood personalities, famous sportsmen and politically connected artists and journalists. Perhaps fearing the Bharat Ratna overkill over Sachin Tendulkar, the government has chosen to tread carefully by giving woman cricketer Anjum Chopra a Padma Shri. No journalist has made the cut. No bureaucrat or politician either, though they are usually few and far between.
“Most of the names shortlisted represent art, culture, cinema and social sector only,” government sources pointed out.
Undoubtedly 2013 was the year of the judiciary, and justices get ample justice in the list. Late Justice (retd) J S Verma, former Chairman of National Human Rights Commission from 1999 to 2003, and Chairman of the Justice Verma Committee Report on Amendments to Criminal Law after the 2012 Delhi gang rape case has been shortlisted for Padma Vibhushan. Justice Verma, who passed away in April last year, had made landmark recommendations for stringent criminal law which has dictated the course of legislation protecting women’s rights. Justice Dalveer Bhandari, former Supreme Court judge and currently member, International Court of Justice, has been picked for his service to public affairs. Bhandari has striven to make legal education accessible to professionals and to the public who might be involved in legal cases. The judge established mediation and conciliation centres in Maharashtra and an information centre for litigants in Bombay HC of which he was the chief justice in 2004.
Though neither regional nor popular cinema has made the shortlist, it celebrates the arts by giving awards to figures in literature, theatre, dance and music. Indo-Anglian writing has been recognised with a Padma Bhushan for novelist Anita Desai— shortlisted for the Booker Prize thrice, winner of the Sahitya Akademi Award in 1978 and the Guardian Prize for The Village by the Sea. Former RAW officer and poet Keki N Daruwalla who received the Sahitya Akademi award in 1984 for his collection of verse The Keeper of the Dead has made it to the Padma Bhushan shortlist.