India’s National Awards

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Bharat Ratna:

Bharat Ratna (‘Jewel of India’), instituted by the first President of India Dr Rajendra Prasad on 2nd January 1954, is India’s highest civilian award. The award is given each year by the President of India “for exceptional service towards the advancement of Art, Literature and Science and in recognition of public service of the highest order”. It was scrapped by the Janata Party Government in 1977 but was revived in 1980 by the Congress government.

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Padma Awards:

Padma Awards are the highest civilian awards of the country after the Bharat Ratna and are conferred by the Government of India in three categories, namely, ‘Padma Vibhushan’, ‘Padma Bhushan’ and ‘Padma Shri’. The awards, which were instituted in 1954, are given in various disciplines such as arts, social work, public affairs, science and technology, medicine, trade and industry, literature and education, sports and civil service. While the ‘Padma Vibhushan’ is awarded for exceptional and distinguished service and ‘Padma Bhushan’ for distinguished service of high order, the ‘Padma Shri’ is given for distinguished service in any field. The awards are announced on the eve of the Republic Day every year and are actually given in the months of March/April. The awards are normally conferred on Indian citizens but some eminent persons of Indian origin and foreigners have also been conferred with the awards for their contributions in different fields.

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Sahitya Akademi Fellowships:

The Sahitya Akademi grants three types of fellowships: Sahitya Akademi Honorary Fellowship, Anand Fellowship and Premchand Fellowship. The ‘Sahitya Akademi Honorary Fellowship’ is the highest honour conferred by the Akademi on a writer and is reserved for ‘the immortals of literature’ and limited to 21 only at any given time. The ‘Anand Fellowship’ was instituted in 1996 in memory of the great scholar Dr. Ananda Coomaraswamy and is offered to scholars from Asian countries to pursue literary projects of their choice. The ‘Premchand Fellowship’ was instituted during the 125th Birth Anniversary of Munshi Premchand in 2005 and is given to scholars doing research on Indian literature or to creative writers from the countries of the SAARC region other than India.

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Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowships:

The Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowship or ‘Akademi Ratna’ is the most prestigious and rare honour, which is restricted to a very limited number at any given time. Presently there are only 34 Fellows of the Sangeet Natak Akademi. For the year 2010, two eminent personalities in the field of performing arts, namely Girija Devi and Nataraj Ramakrishna were chosen as the Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellows.

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