Chandrayaan's team deprived of Padma Shri

Friday, 29 January 2010, 11:09 Hrs
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Chandrayaan's team deprived of Padma Shri
New Delhi: Despite Chandrayaan-1 being the first lunar mission of India, the scientists and engineers engaged in the mission remained unrecognised with no mention in the list of Padma Shri awardees, reports Srinivas Laxman of Times Of India.

The reason for their work being overlooked is a rule framed by the government a few years ago stipulating that those attached to government organisations like ISRO and Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) will not be entitled to any "government-backed" awards, like the prestigious Padma awards.

However, the efforts are on to change this discriminatory rule. The Government now wants to revise this decision keeping in view the fact that it will be counter productive in terms of morale of those who labour in official agencies at salaries that are much less than in the private sector and where national pride is a big motivator.

The controversial decision comes at a time when government wants to stem brain drain of scientists and engineers to foreign organisations like NASA and woo them back to India with better terms than before and by rewarding good performance. Yet, if official recognition is itself banned while Padma awards are awarded to achievers of Indian origin in foreign countries, Indian establishments are bound to feel rather left out.

On Monday evening, when the names of Padma award winners were announced, ISRO officials started to look if anyone from the Chandrayaan team had been honoured as an exception as was done with Nair last year. They were shocked to find that none had figured in the list.

A space agency official on condition of anonymity said, "This was really disappointing. After the honour the moon mission brought to India, we thought that at least Chandrayaan project director, Mylswamy Annadurai, would have been honoured. But even he has been ignored. The Chandrayaan mission has been considered a brand ambassador of India." Annadurai could not be contacted for a response.

Secretary of the India chapter of Moon Society, Pradeep Mohandas said, "It is quite disappointing to know that no Padma honour was accorded to the Chandrayaan-1 team which has got kudos from several national and international fora for being an engineering and management success. It was also a project that showcased India's scientific and technological prowess to the world."

This year, there was also controversy as many popular celebrities were awarded the Padma Shri, while many other deserving candidates were left out. One of them is Beijing Olympics bronze medal winning wrestler Sushil Kumar, his coach and former grappler Satpal recently said, ""Kumar was the one who got medal in wrestling after 50-60 years. He is an idol for young wrestlers. He should have got the Padma award." The trend shows that the Padma awards are only given to people who are popular among the masses. "I feel undeserving on being awarded Padma Shri," said Bollywood actor Saif Ali Khan, who was awarded the Padma Shri this time.

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