New Delhi: Eighty-four-year-old Jagdish Lal Ahuja, who serves free food daily to hundreds of poor patients and attendants outside PGIMER Chandigarh, and Arunoday Mondal, a doctor who travels six hours every weekend to treat patients in remote Sundarban villages, are among the 21 unsung heroes who have been honoured with the Padma Shri Awards 2020.
The awardees were announced on the eve of the Republic Day by the Ministry of Home Affairs. As many as 118 people have been selected for Padma Shri awards this year.
The list also includes Mohammed Sharif who has performed the last rites of over 25,000 unclaimed bodies in and around Faizabad over the past 25 years. A bicycle mechanic by profession, Sharif struggles to make ends meet. However, he has never let his personal struggles come in the way of pursuing his cause.
Some of the other awardees who are being honoured for their unique contributions are:
72-year-old Tulasi Gowda from Karnataka, a social worker known as the 'Encyclopedia of Forest' due to her vast knowledge of diverse species of plants and herbs - despite not having any formal education. Despite growing up in poverty amongst the backward community, she has planted and nurtured thousands of trees over the past 60 years.
Abdul Jabbar, known as 'Voice of Bhopal', will be awarded for having "fought for fair treatment and rehabilitation of Bhopal Gas Tragedy survivors for over 3 decades".
61-year-old Munna Master is a Bhajan singer from a traditional Muslim family of Bagaru in Jaipur district, carrying forward the family tradition of singing Ram-Krishna bhajans.
Usha Chaumar from Rajasthan, a 53-year-old social worker is a Dalit woman whose life is an embodiment of strong will and empowerment - one who was helpless herself has now become the voice of countless.
Radha Mohan and his daughter Sabarmatee, both Gandhians, have converted a piece of degraded land into a vast food forest in Odisha by using only organic techniques are among the Padma Shri awardees.
'Uncle Moosa of Arunachal', 69-year-old Sathyanarayan Mundayoor, working in the field of Affordable Education has been promoting education and reading culture in remote areas of remote Arunachal Pradesh for four decades.
Popatrao Pawar from Maharashtra will be awarded for transforming "a drought-prone village into a green model village".
Kushal Konwar Sarma from Assam, who earned the sobriquet "Haathi ka Saathi" will be awarded for "extraordinary elephant doctor helping of Asia's Endangered".
52-year-old Trinity Saioo from Meghalaya is a school teacher and tribal farmer who led 800 women in the Jaintia Hills regions to cultivate and boost the popularity of the indigenous, high curcumin content Lakadong variety of Turmeric.
Also among the Padma Shri awardees is S Ramakrishnan from Tamil Nadu, a neck-down fully paralyzed social worker who has emerged as one of India's biggest names in the rehabilitation of divyang people.