Reema Nanavaty of the Self-Employed Women’s Association (Sewa) and veteran Gujarati journalist and writer Devendra Patel are among the 108 people chosen for this year’s Padma awards. Nanavaty and Patel have both been awarded the Padma Shri. The President will formally present the awards at a function to be held at Rashtrapati Bhawan in March or April.
Among other notable personalities chosen for the Padma awards this year are actors Sharmila Tagore, Sridevi, Rajesh Khanna and humorist Jaspal Bhatti (the last two posthumously).
Nanavaty, who is head of the team of Sewa’S Trade Facilitation Centre (STFC), has been given the award for her contribution in social work. Nanavaty had quit the IAS one year after joining the service to join Sewa, an organization of poor women artisans in the informal sector.
Under her leadership, Sewa, an organization founded by Ela Bhatt, has grown impressively. Speaking to DNA, Nanavaty said that the Padma Shri had come as a big surprise to her. “This is the time to cherish it as an honour to the contribution of 1.7 million members of Sewa. I don’t think I have done much; there is so much more work still waiting to be done. I cherish and congratulate all my sisters in Sewa,” she said.
It was in 1999 that Nanavaty was elected general secretary of the organization. Currently, she heads Sewa FTC which grooms rural artisans’ skills.
Writer and veteran journalist Devendra Patel, 68, is popular among Gujarati newspaper readers through is column ‘Kabhi Kabhi’. His journalistic career has, however, dominated his contributions as a writer. Patel has written more than 45 books that include 10 novels, 5 collections of short stories, and a travelogue titled, ‘The land of the Bible: Israel’, which was given an award by the Gujarat government.
His writings for his column, ‘Kabhi Kabhi’, now constitute 19 collections of articles. He completed his school education at the Shreyas Foundation under the direct monitoring of late Leena Sarabhai. It was Homer’s epic, ‘Iliad’, which attracted him to literature and writing.
Of the 108 Padma awards announced on Friday, 4 are Padma Vibhushan, 24 Padma Bhushan and 80 Padma Shri awards. Further, 24 of the awardees are women. This year’s list also includes 11 people in the category of foreigners, NRIs, PIOs and posthumous awardees.
The Padma awards, the country’s highest civilian awards, are conferred in three categories, namely, Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan and Padma Shri. The awards are given in various disciplines/fields of activities, viz art, social work, public affairs, science and engineering, trade and industry, medicine, literature and education, sports, civil service, etc. ‘Padma Vibhushan’ is awarded for exceptional and distinguished service; ‘Padma Bhushan’ for distinguished service of high order and ‘Padma Shri’ for distinguished service in any field. The awards are announced on the occasion of Republic Day every year