Among names that were considered for the prestigious Padma awards this year, but did not make the final cut of 85 awardees, are those of playback singer Suman Kalyanpur, sitar player Shujaat Husain Khan, badminton player P V Sindhu, actors Prabhas (of the film Baahubali) and Manoj Bajpai, comedian Raju Srivastava, cricketers Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Harmanpreet Kaur, and footballer Sunil Chhetri.
The names were among the 51 recommended by an inter-ministerial search committee. These recommendations were analysed, along with more than 350,000 online applications received by the Union Home Ministry, by the nine-member Padma awards committee headed by Cabinet Secretary P K Sinha.
Some of the other names recommended by the search committee that made it to the final list were tennis player Somdev Devvarman, Yeshi Doden from Himachal Pradesh (in ‘unsung heroes’ category), scientist Dr Amitava Roy and badminton player Kidambi Srikanth, according to a Home Ministry official.
The government started the category of unsung heroes in 2017 to recognise people who have rendered selfless service at the grassroots level, officials said.
Among other names taken up for consideration but that did not make it to the final list were Noida-based obstetrics and gynaecologist Dr Uma Sharma, who is also wife of Union minister Dr Mahesh Sharma; kathak exponent Shovana Narayan; Gujarat Vidyapeeth vice-chancellor Sudarshan Iyengar; singer Shreya Ghosal; and wrestler Geeta Phogat, whose life inspired the Hindi film Dangal.
Some other candidates recommended by the search committee are Kalinga University founder Achyuta Samanta, veteran actor Kamini Kaushal, filmmaker Kalpana Lajmi, chess player Harika Dronavalli, social entrepreneur Bhupendra Kumar Modi, ghazal maestros from Jaipur Ahmed and Mohammed Hussain, women and child activist Rangu Souriya, and para-athlete Karmjyoti Dalal.
Other members in the committee taking the final call, headed by Cabinet Secretary Sinha, were former SBI chairperson Arundhati Bhattacharya, cricketer Anil Kumble, nominated Rajya Sabha MP Swapan Dasgupta, Sangeet Natak Akademi chairman Shekhar Sen, former editor of Prabhat Khabar and JD(U) Rajya Sabha MP Harivansh, and former cabinet minister Arif Mohammad Khan, who was lauded for his stand on triple talaq by the BJP.
The panel, according to officials, met five times between September 2017 to January this year.