Former Lok Sabha Speaker, the late Purno Agitok Sangma has been conferred the Padma Vibhushan, as the Centre announced the list of Padma awardees for 2017 on Wednesday.
With this, Sangma he has become the first recipient from Meghalaya to be awarded India's second-highest civilian honour.
The prestigious national accolades, which were instituted in 1954, are announced every year on Republic Day. There are three categories: Padma Shri, which is given for distingued service, the Padma Bhushan for distinguished service of a higher order and Padma Vibhushan, for exceptional and distinguished service.
The government had begun inviting nominations for the awards in May 2016 and received around 5,000 entries, from which 500 names were shortlisted in December The Indian Express reported.
Politicians Sharad Pawar, Murali Manohar Joshi, cricket Virat Kohli, singer Kailash Kher and chef Sanjeev Kapoor were among the awardees in 2017.
Dipa Karmakar, who finished fourth in artistic gymnastics at Rio Olympics last year, and gold medallist at Rio Paralympics Mariyappan Thangavelu also figured in the list of Padma Shri awardees. The 23-year-old "Produnova Princess" from Tripura, practised on an apparatus made from second-hand parts of a discarded scooter. She is only the fifth woman in the gymnastic history to land a Produnova vault.
However, the focus of this year's Padma awards, according to the officials in the Home Ministry, was on "recognising talent of unknown and unsung heroes of the country."
Nonogenarian Bhakti Yadav, popularly known as "Doctor Dadi" from Indore, and captain of Indian National blind cricket team Shekhar Naik are among the unsung heroes who were named for Padma Shri.
Yadav, 91, is the first woman from Indore to hold an MBBS degree. She has been treating patients free of cost for the past 68 years and has helped deliver thousands of babies.
Naik had led the India's cricket team of blind to victory in the first T20 World Cup in 2012 and ODI World Cup in 2014. He comes from a poor background and faced extreme hardship as he lost his parents at the age of 12.
Paralympics Mariyappan Thangavelu also figured in the list of Padma Shri awardees.
Thangavelu, who won gold in Rio 2016, is a born fighter. He had suffered permanent disability in the right leg when he was run over by drunk bus driver.
With inputs from PTI
Updated Date: Jan 25, 2017 18:36 PM