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In Spotlight: Padma Shri 2021 Awardees from the Disabled Community

Even before we begin to talk about the Padma Shri awardees of 2021 from the disability sector for their extraordinary work in their respective fields. I’d like to dwell upon the whole idea of awards and why at a certain point in time it is important to be at the national stage for your work. 

The MuchNeed Limelight

So, moving ahead, the awards we were talking about. Why? Before presenting my point of view to you, I’d ask you why you think an award is necessary? Imagine you are relentlessly working day and night towards something, a school project, a play, a sport, a report, and getting recognised for it with an award, how amazing is that feeling? I think no matter whether small or big an award is, the feeling of being appreciated for your work is sheer happiness. 

People are moved by different forces, the force of passion, the force of power, the force of money, the force of fame. But in the crooks of all these forces, comes silent benevolent energy that drives the force of humanity, or social change, real work on the ground.

While a few, with the fate, opportunities, or resources, you may say, gain power, money, fame, power everything, but there are hundreds of them who can’t manage to twist the destiny in their favour to such length and breadths.

So, these awards, quarterly, yearly are to give recognition and celebrate their work and extend gratitude for their relentless passion for change in society. While I would also bring a point, that many of these people don’t care for any awards because their goals are so big and rewarding that an award could do justice.

Having said that I would also like to say that these awards perhaps wouldn’t matter so much to the individual but it brings a lot of national attention to their work, from their community and community at large. This works as a driving force for so many people to take up the task and work in that direction. 

Diversity and Inclusion

From the bandwagon of sports to medicine, the Padma awards for 2021 recognise the achievements of people with disabilities across diverse fields. I will take you through one by one, here we go: 

Dr Niru Kumar

Dr Niru Kumar receiving Padma Shri from the President of India

“I have a passion to bring diversity and inclusion to every corner of the country”, Dr. Niru Kumar

Dr. Kumar has lived with a physical disability from polio herself from the time she was three years old. Like the profound prejudice around disability, she has faced barriers due to her disability. Hence, she passionately works for the disabled community and spreads awareness about diversity and inclusion.

Dr. Kumar is a medical doctor, psychologist, and diversity and inclusion consultant. She has been changing the lives of people through a blend of modern medicine, psychology, coaching skills, and Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP). Dr. Kumar is a pioneer in raising awareness about the concept of diversity and inclusion among Indian companies.

Balan Pootheri

Balan Pootheri receiving Padma Shri from the President of India

Balan Pootheri, a visually impaired writer, who has authored over 200 books. The visually challenged writer dwells on spirituality and penned more than 200 books in praise of Lord Krishna and Surdas, the devotional poet. He did not give up his passion for writing even after losing his vision completely a few years ago. He narrates his thoughts, ideas, and understanding to his family members who write It down.

Dr Rattan Lal Mittal

Dr. Mitta is the former professor and head of the department, orthopedics at Government Medical College, Patiala. He is known for performing rare club foot surgeries free of cost. 

Further, he has also done state-of-the-art research on rare and neglected clubfoot-related disabilities in India. While talking to The Tribune, he said the Padma Shri award is the result of 60 years of hard work.

Dr Bhupendra Kumar Sanjay

Dr. Sanjay is the founder of the Sanjay Orthopaedic, Spine & Maternity Centre and an orthopedic and spine surgeon by profession. He has developed innovative procedures to save the limbs. He strives to decrease disabilities due to cerebral palsy among children. Recognising his extraordinary work over the years, he was bestowed with the Padma Shri. 

K. Y. Venkatesh

KY Venkatesh was born with achondroplasia-induced dwarfism.  Venkatesh, who is from Karnataka has a world record to his name. He set the record at the 4th World Dwarf Games in 2005 when he won six medals in various sports. He had earlier represented India at the first International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Athletics World Championships in 1994. Not just that, he has won medals in many games including athletics, basketball, hockey, volleyball, football, and badminton.

After retiring in 2012, Venkatesh has been dedicatedly working towards promoting various sports amongst people with disabilities. He was the secretary of the Karnataka Para-Badminton Association for the Disabled before moving on to attending an IPC accredited coaching, technical and classification course in wheelchair basketball.

We must recognise and cherish people from various communities for their extraordinary work. It gives hope to the coming generation and shouts to them that there are ample ways you can contribute too, you just need to make it your mission and follow it with passion. 

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