Padma Awardees from Bengal in 2014

Padma Awardees from Bengal in 2014

February 2, 2014

The Padma Awards are a group of three awards – Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan and Padma Shri – which are the second highest civilian awards (non-gallantry) given by the government of India (the highest being the Bharat Ratna). In order of decreasing precedence, they are Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan and Padma Shri. The awards seek to recognise distinguished and exceptional achievements in all fields, such as art, literature and education, sports, medicine, social work, science and engineering, public affairs, civil service, trade and industry, etc.

The awards were instituted in 1954. With the exception of 1978, 1979, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996 and 1997, these awards have been announced every year.

Some of the important tenets regarding the awards are…

  • The recommendations for the Padma Awards are received from the state governments, union territory administrations, central ministries/departments, institutions of excellence, etc.
  • These are then considered by an Awards Committee.
  • On the basis of the recommendations of the Awards Committee, and after approval of the Home Minister, Prime Minister and President, the Padma Awards are announced on the eve of the Republic Day, that is, on January 25.
  • The awards are normally not conferred posthumously. However, exceptions can be made in highly deserving cases, if the demise of the person has been within one year preceding the Republic Day on which the name is proposed to be announced.
  • A higher category of Padma award can be conferred on a person only where a period of at least five years has elapsed since the conferment of the earlier Padma award. However, in highly deserving cases, a relaxation can be made by the Awards Committee.
  • The decoration comprises a certificate and a medallion.
  • The recipients are also given a replica of the medallion, which can be worn during any ceremonial or state functions, etc.
  • It is important to remember that the award does not amount to a title and cannot be used as a suffix or prefix to the award winner’s name on letterheads, invitation cards, posters, books etc. In the case of any misuse, the defaulter will forfeit the award.
  • No cash allowance or any facility/benefit in terms of concessions, etc. in rail and air travel is attached to these awards.

From top to bottom: Padma Vibhushan (front & back), Padma Bhushan (front & back), Padma Shri (front & back)

Recipients from West Bengal in 2014

This year, the recipients from West Bengal are… 

Art – Sabitri Chatterjee and Supriya Devi (film), Sunil Das (painting), Rani Karnaa (Kathak),

Science and Engineering – Dr Jayanta Kumar Ghosh

Medicine – Prof (Dr) Indira Chakravarty (health and hygiene)

All have been awarded the Padma Shri. There are no recipients of either the Padma Bhushan or the Padma Vibhushan.

It must be mentioned that for thespians like Sabitri Chatterjee and Supriya Devi, at their age and after so much contribution to their field, to get a Padma Shri is a travesty of justice. For them, nothing less than a Padma Vibhushan would have sufficed, or at the least, a Padma Bhushan.

Leander Paes also got the Padma Bhushan, but since he is now a resident of Mumbai, his name was recommended by Maharashtra.

Brief profiles

Sabitri Chatterjee

Sabitri Chatterjee was one of the most versatile actors of Bengali cinema. Sabitri`s histrionic talents portrayed during the rehearsals of the play Natun Yehudi caught the eye of Binu Bardhan, a member of Uttar Sarathi, who also was the assistant to the film director Sudhir Mukherjee. A screen test later, she was taken on for the film Pasher Bari. That was in 1952. It was a huge hit. She impressed one and all with her unrestrained style and her comic timing, and there was no looking back.

She starred opposite Uttam Kumar for the first time in Basu Parivar (1952), and the duo went on to give hits like Lakh Taka (1953), Anupama (1954), Kalyani (1954), Raikamal (1955), Nabojanma (1956), Punar Milan (1957), Marutirtha Hinglaj (1959), Raja-Saja (1960), Dui Bhai (1961), Bhranti Bilas (1963), Momer Alo (1964) and Nishipadma (1970). Sabitri Chatterjee continued with her glittering career during the 1970s, doing several films like Shanti (1970), Putuler Ma (1973), Shila (1970), Pratinidhi (1964, Mantramugdha (1970), Malyadaan (1971), Sesh Parba (1972), Seyi Chokh (1976), Brajabuli (1979) and so on.

Alongside films, Sabitri also acted in many acclaimed plays. Sabitri Chatterjee was one of the stars of the mega soap opera Sonar Harin that has had a run of more than 1000 episodes. Other than the cinematic world, Sabitri Chatterjee is also associated with many welfare organisations.

Sabitri Chatterjee

Supriya Devi

Supriya Devi was seven years old when she made her acting debut in two plays directed by her father. She was a keen dancer since her childhood even receiving an award from Thakin Nu, the then prime minister of Myanmar (Burma), who was moved by one of her dance recitals. It was with her second film, Basu Parivar (1952), a family drama where she played Uttam Kumar's sister, that she made her mark. Shonar Harin (1959) saw Supriya Devi play the lead opposite Uttam Kumar. The two went on to do several films together, which were some of the very best in Bengali cinema – Uttar Megh (1960), Shuno Baro Nari (1962), Kaal Tumi Aleya (1965), Bilambit Loy (1970), Banpalashir Padabali (1973), Sanyasi Raja (1975), Bhola Moira (1977) and Dui Purush (1978).

Supriya's greatest performance however came in Meghe Dhaka Tara (1960), the Ritwik Ghatak classic, which made the best use of her immense histrionic abilities. In that film, her character, Neeta’s anguished cry, "Dada! Ami Kintu Bacchte Chai!" at the end of the film makes one’s hair stand on end and has entered the pantheon of Indian films. It was an absolutely stunning performance and is one of the most memorable performances ever, not just in Bengali Cinema but in the history of Indian cinema. Ghatak also directed her in Komal Gandhar (1961). In this film too, she played the role of a refugee from erstwhile East Pakistan and again received major critical acclaim. Films apart, Supriya Devi also acted in a few Bengali commercial theatrical productions. The majority of her stage appearances were at the famed Biswaroopa Theatre. She has also been a part of long-running hit serials like Janani and the cookery show, Benudir Rannaghar. In 2007, she appeared in Mira Nair`s The Namesake as Ashima`s grandmother.

Supriya Devi

Sunil Das

Sunil Das is an Indian expressionist painter. He is one of India's most important post-modernist painters. He is popular for his bull series and horse series of paintings, and his paintings on women, He has been inspired by the force and the strength of the moving horse. His works also revolve around man-woman relationships, and the woman in her sexual empowerment and in her loneliness.

Sunil Das rose to prominence with his drawing of horses. A French art scholarship with the Ecole Nationale Superieure des Beaux-Arts took him to Europe. It was in the course of his travels that he chanced to spend a few months in Spain, where he developed his passion for horses and bulls. "I must have done 7000 horses between 1950 to ‘60," he says. "In 1962, I went to Spain, where I was fascinated by the bull fights." Every once in a while he paints human beings, but his depiction of the human anatomy is skewed, to a point that it almost borders on macabre surrealism. For example, his series on women with mysterious, tantalising eyes - all oil on canvas, the portraits convey, in various forms including the erotic, the pressures women are subject to.

Hardly ever painting in loud or warm colors, Das uses soft brown, mauve and white in the background to bring out the drama of life. Das has the distinction of being the only Indian artist to have won a National Award (the Shiromani Kala Puraskar) while still an undergraduate at the Government College of Art and Craft, Kolkata. He has had around 88 solo exhibitions across the world including at the Biennales in Paris. Besides, his works are also a part of the collections of renowned museums such as the National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi, the Glenbarra Art Museum, Japan, and the Ludwig Museum, Germany. In 1960 he became a founder member of the Society of Contemporary Artists.

Sunil Das

Rani Karnaa

The globe-trotting Kathak exponent, Rani Karnaa started dancing at the age of five in 1944 and she has been trained under great masters like Nrityacharya Narayan Prasad, Pandit Sunder Prasad and Pandit Birju Maharaj. She is one of India’s foremost exponents of Kathak. Based on the verses of saint poet Surdas and Rabindranath Tagore, her presentations of ‘Navarasamalika’, ‘Virah Milan Raas’, ‘Anand Dhara’, ‘Pujarini’, ‘Ritu Parva’, ‘Hori Khela’ and ‘Shadh’ – choreographed in Kathak – as well as her other choreographic presentations such as ‘Satrang’, ‘Navarang’, ‘Indradhanush’, ‘Nritya Sandhya’ and ‘Anant Yatra’ have received wide acclaim. Her work on the aesthetics of Kathak with Dr SK Saxena of Delhi University is now well recognised. A Sangeet Natak Akademi awardee, Rani has also learnt Odissi (from Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra), Manipuri and Bharatnatyam.

She has contributed immensely in the rediscovery and enrichment of the ancient tradition of Odissi. Her presentation of ‘Meghadoota’ in that style bears testimony to her versatility. She was the founder and head of the dance department of the Calcutta School of Music from 1978 to 1993. She also founded and headed the dance department at Ahana, the music and dance wing of Aurobindo Bhavan, Kolkata from 1980 to 1987. The graceful dancer is now nurturing new talents in the dance form through her dance school Samskritiki Shreyaskar, located in Kolkata. Among her many honours are the President's Gold Medal in 1955, the Order of the Queen of Laos in 1964 and the Sangeet Natak Akademi award.

 Rani Karnaa

Dr Jayanta Kumar Ghosh

Dr Jayanta Kumar Ghosh is an Indian statistician, formerly a director and currently an emeritus professor at Indian Statistical Institute, and a professor of statistics at Purdue University, USA. Among his best-known discoveries are the Bahadur-Ghosh-Kiefer representation (with RR Bahadur and Jack Kiefer) and the Ghosh-Pratt identity along with John W Pratt. His core area of research lies in Bayesian analysis, Bayesian asymptotics, sequential analysis, higher order asymptotic, geo-statistics, environmental statistics, model selection and genomics among other areas.

He has also been the president of International Statistical Institute. He has authored a number of books and published a large number of articles in scholarly journals. He has been serving on the editorial boards of many journals of international repute like Annals of Statistics, Sankhya, Journal Of Statistical Planning And Inference, Sequential Analysis, Statistics and Decisions, and many others. He has received various prestigious awards like Fellow of the Indian National Science Academy, Indian Academy of Science, and Institute of Mathematical Statistics, PC Mahalanobis Gold Medal in 1998 (given by the Indian Science Congress Association), PV Sukhatme Prize for Statistics, 2000 (given by the government of India), etc.

 Jayanta Kumar Ghosh

Dr Indira Chakravarty

Dr Indira Chakravarty is one of the most prominent public health experts of India. At present, she is the Chief Advisor in Public Health Engineering Department, government of West Bengal. As a scientist and scholar, she is internationally recognized for her research on a wide range of public health issues, including consumer safety, nutrition, and water contamination.

While at the All India Institute of Hygiene and Public Health (AIIHPH), she undertook to improve street food standards and teach hawkers to develop better standards through a study called The Calcutta Model, which was supported by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations. It received the first Edouard Saouma Award from FAO in the 50th year of the UN. Her prescribed methods were accepted by the Kolkata Municipal Corporation and street food vendors were trained by AIIHPH.

She is an ex-member of Food Safety and Standards Authority of India, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, government of India. She has also been a director of the All India Institute of Hygiene and Public health and Chittaranjan National Cancer Institute. She has worked as a consultant for World Health Organisation (WHO), Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations, United Nations Childrens’ Fund (UNICEF), World Bank, etc. in more than 35 countries in Asia, Africa, Europe and Latin America.

 Indira Chakravarty

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Comments (2)
Anish Reply
February 02, 2014
Well deserving luminaries
Koel Reply
February 02, 2014
Sabitri Chatterjee is one of my favourite actresses. Very happy to know that she received the honour :)
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