Montek, Iyengar among Padma awardees for public service

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

NEW DELHI - Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia and noted nuclear scientist P.K. Iyengar were among the seven Padma awardees in the public affairs section this year.

Five people - educationist A.R. Kidwai, economist Vijay Kelkar and noted Gandhian activist L.C. Jain, who died last year, besides Ahluwalia and Iyengar - have been awarded Padma Vibhushan, the second highest civilian award.

Legal scholar Upendra Baxi and Anant Darshan Shankar have been selected for Padma Shri awards for their contribution in public affairs.

There is no one from the public affairs section among the 31 Padma Bhushan awardees. In all, there were 128 Padma awardees - 13 Padma Vibhushan, 31 Bhushan and 84 Padma Shri.

Jain, who died Nov 14 last year at 85 years, has been honoured posthumously.

A freedom fighter, Jain had participated in the Quit India movement. He continued his public life with an orientation towards Gandhian economics.

Jain was a member of the Planning Commission and Indian high commissioner to South Africa. He was given the Ramon Magsaysay award for public service in 1989.

Ninetyone-year-old Kidwai is an eminent educationist, a former deputy minister in the union cabinet, former governor and a former Rajya Sabha member.

A doctorate from Cornell University in the US, Kidwai taught for several decades in the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU). He was a deputy minister in the Indira Gandhi cabinet (1974-77), a Rajya Sabha member (2000-2004) and chancellor of the AMU from 1983 to 1992.

He was the governor of three states - Bihar, Haryana and West Bengal - and also held temporary charge as the governor of Rajasthan.

Ahluwalia, 68, has been the deputy chairman of the Planning Commission since the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) came to power in 2004. He is considered a key policy-maker of the Manmohan Singh government.

An alumnus of New Delhi’s St Stephen’s College and Oxford University, Ahluwalia is a former president of the Oxford Union. He had also worked as a director of the independent evaluation office of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Iyengar, a noted nuclear scientist, is a former head of the Bhaba Atomic Research Corporation (BARC) and a former chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC). Iyengar, 88, played a major role in fission tests. He was a critic of the India-US civilian nuclear agreement.

Vijay Kelkar, 69, a former chairman of the Finance Commission, is among the key officials involved in the economic reforms in the country. He is a former union finance secretary and an ex-member of the board of IMF.

Upendra Baxi is a legal scholar and former vice-chancellor of the Delhi University. Baxi, 73, taught in several foreign universities too. He has specialised in comparative constitutionalism and social theory of human rights.

Anant Darshan Shankar, 60, who hails from Karnataka’s Shimoga district, is a traditional health activist. Founder president of the Forum for Revitalisation of Local Health Traditions, Kumar has contributed to the preservation of medicinal flora and fauna of the Western Ghats.

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