On Republic Day eve, the nation honoured the veteran Telugu actor, Dr Akkineni Nageswara Rao, and the eminent educationist and metallurgist, Dr Palle Rama Rao ,with Padma Vibhushan, its second highest civilian award.
Noted Industrialists Dr Kallam Anji Reddy (Reddy labs), Mr Gunapati Venkata Krishna Reddy, chairman of the GVK Group, and the veteran playback singer Dr Sripathi Panditaradhyula Balasubramaniam were among those who bagged the Padma Bhushan awards.
Mr Gajam Govardhana (handloom weaving), Dr Ebrahimali Abubaker Siddiq (agricultural science), Mr N.S. Bhati (civil services), Vangipurapu Venkata Sai Laxman (cricket), Gagan Narang (shooting), Dr Pullela Sri Ramachandrudu (literature and education) and Prof. Koneru Ramakrishna Rao (literature) bagged the Padma Shri awards.
The Wipro chairman, Mr Azim Premji, the planning commission deputy chairperson, Mr Montek Singh Ahluwalia, and the Malayalam poet, Mr O.N.V. Kurup, were also chosen for Padma Vibhushan this year.
ANR, or Akkineni Nageswara Rao, is the first Telugu actor to bag the Padma Vibushan, the nation’s second highest civilian honour after the Bharat Ratna.
ANR got the Padma Shri in 1968 and Padma Bhushan in 1991 and was also conferred the Dada Saheb Phalke Award in 1990.
When the news came in, the 87-year-old ‘tragedy king’ was on the sets of Ram Rajyam essaying the role of sage Valmiki.
The living legend has shared screen space with his son Nagarjuna in films like Collectorigari Abbaiyi and Sri Ramadasu, and is all set to work with his grandson Naga Chaitanya.
“He is shooting for a film today and that’s amazing,” Naga Chaitanya told this newspaper. “I think he is more active than me. He is an inspiration.”
Prof. Palle Rama Rao, who got the Padma Vibhushan, served as a professor at Banares Hindu University for nearly two decades. Later, he worked as the director of Defence Metallurgical Research Laboratory, and secretary of the Department of Science and Technology. “I am elated and humbled,” he said. “I can’t believe that I got this recognition.”
S.P. Balasubramaniam, who has captured hearts for decades through his singing, has bagged the Padma Bhushan. He has sung more than 2,000 songs in five languages from 1966 to 2011.
Braving competition from GenX singers, SPB, a discovery of the composer S.P. Kodandapani, had also won the state award for Mahatma. “He is like a brother to me and he is my voice for Andhra,” quipped ace actor Kamal Haasan.
Dr K Anji Reddy, chairman of Dr Reddy’s Labs, who was awarded the Padma Bhushan, said: “I am honoured and this is testimony of not only my personal efforts, but also of the thousands of DRL employees,” said in a statement.
He vowed to dedicate himself to giving affordable medicines to the poorest of the poor in the next decade.
Mr Gunapati Venkata Krishna Reddy, chairman of the GVK Group, said the Padma Bhushan caught him by surprise. “This is recognition of service done to the state and the nation,” he said. “But it was a surprise.”
Prof Koneru Ramakrishna Rao, chairman of the Indian Council of Philosophical Research and former vice chancellor of Andhra University, reacted to the awarding of Padma Shri with detachment, true to his wont
A leading thinker who has earned international recognition for his research in philosophy and psychology, Prof Rao said the award should ideally have gone to his younger brother Dr K.S. Rao, a scientist.
“He was instrumental in giving solar energy to remote places in Gujarat but he died in 1980 of malaria,” said the veteran scholar. “I dedicate this award to him.”
Prof Pullela Sri Ramacha-ndrudu, who got the Padma Shri, is among the great scholars. Born on October 24, 1927, in Indupalli village of East Godavari district, Prof Ramachandrudu has penned a number of works including kavyas, commentaries, translations, and monographs in Sanskrit, English, and Telugu.
“I am very happy that my services to Sanskrit literature have been recognised,” the 84-year-old scholar told this newspaper.
Mr Kailasam Raghavendra Rao, chairman of Orchid Chemicals and Pharmaceuticals, preferred to see his Padma Sri as an encouragement to entrepreneurs.
“I will continue to put science and technology in the forefront to discover drugs for diseases which currently don’t have cure,” said Mr Rao, who was born in Guntur but stays in Chennai.