What should be the criterion for national civilian awards, the Padma Shri, Padma Bhushan and Padma Vibhushan?
If this question were to be answered on the basis of this year’s awards, then some of the possible answers could be: performing an operation on the prime minister (successfully, of course) or being close to a former US president and his wife.
No one can argue with choices such as Y.V. Reddy, Zohra Sehgal, A.R. Rahman, Ilaiyaraaja or even those such as Aamir Khan and Saif Ali Khan, or Virender Sehwag (giving enjoyment to millions of people is definitely worthy of a national award).
To recognize business executives for simply doing their jobs, and in the process enriching themselves, however, is not on. And to recognize a lobbyist with a shady past is definitely not on.
The growing tendency to recognize friends and well-wishers in the national honours list can only serve to dilute the awards, and may even force all right-thinking awardees to refuse or return the awards.