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Padma Awards 2023 announced: History of the awards, how the winners are chosen

Prelim: Current events of national and international importance


The Padma Awards are one of the highest civilian honours of India announced annually on the eve of Republic Day

On January 25th, the Indian government announced the recipients of one Padma Vibhushan award and 25 Padma Shri awards. 

The Padma Vibhushan award will be given posthumously to Dilip Mahalanabis in the field of Medicine (Pediatrics) for his development of Oral Rehydration Solution (ORS).



  • In 1954, the Government of India instituted two civilian awards Bharat Ratna & Padma Vibhushan
  • The latter had three classes namely Pahela Varg, Dusra Varg and Tisra Varg. 
  • These were subsequently renamed as Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan and Padma Shri vide Presidential Notification issued on January 8, 1955.

Bharat Ratna

  • Bharat Ratna is the highest civilian award of the country. 
  • It is awarded in recognition of exceptional service/ performance of the highest order in any field of human endeavour. 
  • It is treated on a different footing from Padma Award. 
  • The recommendations for Bharat Ratna are made by the Prime Minister to the President of India. 
  • No formal recommendations for Bharat Ratna are necessary.
  • The number of Bharat Ratna Awards is restricted to a maximum of three in a particular year. 
  • Government has conferred Bharat Ratna Award on 45 persons till date.

Padma Awards


  • The names of the awardees are published in the Gazette of India on the day of the presentation ceremony.
  • The total number of awards to be given in a year (excluding posthumous awards and to NRI/foreigners/OCIs) should not be more than 120.
  • It is announced every year except for brief interruption(s) during the years 1978 and 1979 and 1993 to 1997.
  • Categories:
  • The award is given in three categories, namely,
  • Padma Vibhushan for exceptional and distinguished service;
  • Padma Bhushan for distinguished service of a high order; and
  • Padma Shri for distinguished service.
  • Eligibility: All persons without distinction of race, occupation, position or sex are eligible for these awards.
  • The award seeks to recognize achievements in all fields of activities or disciplines where an element of public service is involved.
  • These awards are presented by the President of India to recognize exceptional achievements in various fields, including the arts, education, industry, literature, science, sports, medicine, social service, and public affairs.
  • Ineligibility: Government servants including those working with PSUs, except doctors and scientists, are not eligible for these Awards.
  • The award is normally not conferred posthumously
  • However, in highly deserving cases, the Government could consider giving an award posthumously.
  • The process of selection for Padma Awards
  • The Padma Awards are conferred on the recommendations made by the Padma Awards Committee, which is constituted by the Prime Minister every year
  • The Padma Awards Committee is headed by the Cabinet Secretary and includes Home Secretary, Secretary to the President and four to six eminent persons as members. 
  • The recommendations of the committee are submitted to the Prime Minister and the President of India for approval.
  • The nomination process is open to the public. Even self-nomination can be made.
  • A higher category of Padma award can be conferred on a person only where a period of at least five years has elapsed since conferment of the earlier Padma award. 
  • However, in highly deserving cases, a relaxation can be made by the Awards Committee.
  • Rewards
  • The awards are presented by the President of India usually in the month of March/April every year where the awardees are presented a Sanad (certificate) signed by the President and a medallion.
  • The recipients are also given a small replica of the medallion, which they can wear during any ceremonial/State functions etc., if the awardees so desire. 
  • However, the award does not amount to a title and cannot be used as a suffix or prefix to the awardees’ name.

First Awardees

  • The first ever Padma Vibhushan awardees in 1954 were scientist Satyendra Nath Bose, artist Nandalal Bose, educationist and politician Zakir Hussain, social worker and politician Balasaheb Gangadhar Kher, and diplomat and academic V.K. Krishna Menon
  • The first ever non-Indian Padma Vibhushan awardee was Bhutanese king Jigme Dorji Wangchuk, who also received the award in 1954.

Refusal of the Padma Awards

  • The Padma Awards are typically given to individuals without seeking their explicit consent beforehand. However, before the final list is made public, the awardees receive a phone call from the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and are given the opportunity to decline the award if they so choose. 
  • This process usually happens quietly, but there have been instances where individuals have publicly refused the award. 
  • For example, historian Romila Thapar has refused the Padma Bhushan award twice, citing that she only accepts awards from academic institutions or those associated with her professional work. 
  • Similarly, former Kerala Chief Minister E.M.S. Namboodripad and Swami Ranganathananda have also declined the award in the past. 
  • In addition, there have been instances where individuals have "returned" the award, such as former Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal in 2020, in protest of the farmers' protests in the state.

Annulment of Padma Awards

  • It is very uncommon, but it is possible for the President of India to revoke or cancel a Padma award if the recipient is found to have engaged in serious misconduct. 
  • This has been brought to attention recently when a wrestler who had won medals and received the Padma Shri award, Sushil Kumar, was implicated in a murder case.


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Fact File

DU researchers find over 250 fossilised eggs belonging to dinosaurs in central India: What are their observations

  • Researchers from Delhi University have made a significant discovery in central India, where they found 92 nests and 256 fossilized eggs belonging to titanosaurs, the largest dinosaurs to have ever existed. 
  • These eggs, which were found in the Narmada Valleywere unique in that they were "egg within an egg" cases, a reproductive trait that is similar to that of modern-day birds
  • This discovery provides insight into the reproductive biology, nesting behavior, and parental care of these extinct giants. The eggs belonged to six different species, indicating a higher diversity of titanosaurs in India. 
  • A behavior similar to that of modern-day crocodiles was observed in Titanosaurs, where they buried their eggs in shallow pits.
  • The location of the discovery, between the easternmost Lameta exposures at Jabalpur in the upper Narmada Valley and Balasinor in the west in the lower Narmada Valley, is significant as it is a sedimentary rock formation known for its dinosaur fossils and is largely concealed by Deccan volcanic flows, which protects the fossils from erosion. 
  • The Narmada Valley is also an important area for the study of animal migration and has a long history of human occupation.

INS Vagir commissioned into the Indian Navy: What are the features of the Kalvari-class submarine?

GS-3: Security challenges and their management in border areas - linkages of organized crime with terrorism

INS Vagir, the fifth of the Kalvari-class submarines under Project-75, has been commissioned into the Indian Navy, amid China's increasing presence in the Indian Ocean region. 

The submarine was built indigenously by Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited (MDL) and designed by French naval defense company Naval Group (formerly DCNS) as part of the Indian Navy's Project-75. 

Scorpene-class submarines

  • In 2005, India signed a $3.75 billion agreement with the French company Naval Group for the joint development and construction of six diesel-electric submarines, as part of Project-75
  • The deal also included the transfer of technology for the Scorpene-class submarines.


  • Scorpene-class submarines are advanced conventional submarines, known for being among the "most silent underwater killer machines" in the world.
  • They are equipped with potent weapons and sensors for neutralizing threats above and below the sea
  • The third-generation air-independent propulsion (AIP) system and stealth and autonomous features of the Scorpene class give the submarine 18 days of autonomy at sea. 
  • They are capable of performing a variety of missions, including combat against surface ships and submarines, intelligence gathering, and special operations, and can operate in both open seas and shallow waters
  • They have been designed to operate in all theatres and undertake missions involving anti-surface warfare, anti-submarine warfare, intelligence gathering, mine-laying, and area surveillance. 
  • They have a SONAR suite and sensor suite. 
  • They use modern technology for superior stealth features such as advanced acoustic absorption techniques, low radiated noise levels, a hydro-dynamically optimized shape, and the ability to launch precision-guided weapons for attacks, both underwater or on the surface.

Kalvari-class submarines

  • Kalvari-class submarines are a class of six diesel-electric attack submarines developed and built in collaboration between India and France
  • They were intended to be delivered between 2010 and 2015, but faced delays due to procurement and data leak issues. 
  • The first submarine, INS Kalvari, was commissioned in 2017, followed by INS Khanderi in 2019, INS Karanj and INS Vela in 2021, INS Vagir in 2022 and INS Vagsheer in 2024.

INS Vagir Features

  • INS Vagir is named after the sand shark, a deep-sea predator of the Indian Ocean and will form part of the Western Naval Command's submarine fleet.
  • It is a diesel-electric attack submarine launched in 2020, as a part of the Kalvari-class of submarines, it is designed to be stealthy and capable of neutralizing a large enemy fleet. 
  • It is equipped with advanced sensors and weaponry such as wire-guided torpedoes and sub-surface-to-surface missiles, it also has a state-of-the-art torpedo decoy system for self-defence and can launch marine commandos for special operations. 
  • Additionally, INS Vagir has diesel engines that can quickly charge batteries for stealth missions
  • The Indian Navy plans to install an AIP system on all Scorpene submarines to enhance endurance under water, with the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) in the advanced stages of developing an indigenous AIP module.
  • An AIP module enables conventional submarines to remain submerged for a longer duration, thereby increasing their endurance and reducing chances of detection.



  • INS Vagir is the latest addition to the Indian Navy's submarine fleet. Its induction will enhance the capabilities of the armed forces to protect maritime interests, conduct intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) and provide decisive blows in times of crisis.
  • With its commissioning, the Indian Navy now has 16 conventional and one nuclear submarine in service. 
  • This is a significant achievement for the Indian shipbuilding industry and the country's defense ecosystem, as it showcases their ability to construct complex and complicated platforms. 
  • Additionally, India has plans to build six new-generation stealth submarines with foreign collaboration through the Project-75 India program. 
  • This program aims to progressively build indigenous capabilities in the private sector to design, develop and manufacture complex weapon systems for the future needs of the armed forces. 
  • India's Navy is in need of more submarines to meet its strategic deterrence needs as some of the submarines currently in service are aging and not enough to meet the requirement
  • The Ministry of Defense has also put in place a roadmap for indigenous design and construction of submarines which will further add numbers to the Navy's arsenal.


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Fact Files

FIH Hockey World Cup 2023

  • Odisha hosts the 15th edition of the FIH Hockey World Cup, scheduled to take place from January 13 to January 29. 
  • The tournament is held in the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneshwar and the brand new Birsa Munda International Hockey Stadium in Rourkela. 
  • This is Odisha's second time hosting the World Cup, and the state's state-of-the-art infrastructure has been credited with starting a "hockey revolution." 
  • It features 16 teams competing on the distinctive blue turf, which was first introduced in the 2012 London Olympics. 
  • The blue turf is now the standard playing surface at the highest levels of hockey and is designed to provide outstanding contrast against the yellow ball, making it easier for players to spot and control the ball, as well as for broadcasters to capture the action. 
  • The blue turf also has a soaking-wet nature due to the artificial turf used. 

Performance of India in Hockey

  • Historically, Indian hockey has been a dominant force, winning seven Olympic gold medals and one silver medal between 1928 and 1964. 
  • However, since then, the team's performance has declined, and some attribute this to the introduction of artificial turf which mitigates traditional strengths of Indian hockey and requires different skills set
  • Additionally, the lack of infrastructure and equipment has also been a challenge for developing Indian players for modern game.

Republic Day 2023 to feature 23 tableaux from Assam, Jammu & Kashmir, more: How are they selected?

  • On January 22, the Minister of Defense announced that 17 states and union territories, such as West Bengal, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Tripura, and Jammu & Kashmir, will showcase their tableaux at the Republic Day parade's Kartavya Path. 
  • The process of deciding the tableaux begins in September, where the Defense Ministry invites proposals from states, Union Territories, Central Government departments, and constitutional authorities. 
  • The tableaux must align with a given theme and showcase elements relevant to the state or department, while also highlighting the diversity of the country. 
  • The themes given to participants this year were around 75 years of India’s Independence, the International Year of Millets and ‘Nari Shakti’.
  • For the selection process, the Defense Ministry constitutes a committee of experts in fields like art, culture, painting, sculpture, music, architecture, choreography, etc. 
  • The Defense Ministry provides participants with one tractor and one trailer for the tableau and prohibits the use of any additional vehicles. 
  • However, the participant can replace their ministry-provided tractor or trailer with other vehicles but the total number should not be more than two.


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