Government of India, India, Padma Awards, Padma Shri, Sports, Stories

Cricketers still dominate the Padma Awardees list but others catching up


Of all the Padma awards conferred on Sportspersons till date, 24% went to Cricketers. In the last 22 years, Cricketers accounted for 20% of the awardees. However, sportspersons from 29 different disciplines received an award during this period. Here is a detailed analysis.

One of the highest civilian awards in the country, the Padma Awards, are awarded every year in three categories- Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan and Padma Shri, to recognise and honour the services rendered by Indians in various disciplines ranging from art, sports and literature, to medicine, science and engineering irrespective of gender, religion or race. This year, on the eve of India’s 71st  Republic Day, 141 Padma Awards were announced including 7 Padma Vibhushan, 16 Padma Bhushan and 118 Padma Shri awards.

This year, 33 out of 141 Padma Awardees were Women

Factly had earlier done an explainer on what the awards are, who they are given to and award trends so far. This year, 33 awardees were women, 18 persons from NRI/POI/OCI/Foreigners category and 12 were posthumously awarded. Women awardees include Olympic Medallists, M C Mary Kom and P V Sindhu among many others. There were reports that the nine athletes nominated by the Sports Ministry for the 2020 Padma Awards were all women. This story analyses the trend of Padma awards to sportspersons.

242 Sportspersons have been recipients of the Padma Awards since inception

Since the inception of the awards in 1954 till 2020, a total of 242 awardees were sportspersons. Of these, 241 were Padma Awards and one Bharat Ratna. Of the 241 Padma Awards, 206 were Padma Shri, 31 were Padma Bhushan and 4 Padma Vibhushan. The only Bharat Ratna in the field of sports was conferred to Sachin Tendulkar in 2014. The 4 Padma Vibhushan awardees are

  • Sachin Tendulkar for Cricket (2008)
  • Vishwanathan Anand for Chess (2008)
  • Edmund Hillary for mountaineering (2008)
  • M C Mary Kom for Boxing (2020)

Around 24% of the awards conferred to sportspersons went to Cricketers.

Of the 242 awards to sportspersons, 57 went to cricketers. Mountaineers were conferred 35 of them while Hockey players received 27 of them. Majority of the mountaineers were from the North East. The top ten sports in terms of awards received account for 194 of the awards or 80% of the awards conferred to sportspersons till date.  In addition to those mentioned in the following chart, six awards each have been conferred to Billiards players, Shooters and Swimmers. Four awards have been given to Archers and three to Weightlifters. 

Cricket is the only sport with award recipients in all four categories

Cricket not only dominates in the total number of awards conferred to sportspersons, but also dominates in each of the category of awards. More than 21% of the Padma Shri awards were given to cricketers. Further, 11 out of 31 (35.5%) Padma Bhushan awards were conferred to cricketers. One of the four Padma Vibhushan awardees is a cricketer. The only Bharat Ratna conferred to a sportsperson was also to a cricketer.  

Mountaineering accounted for the second highest number of awards with more than 5% of Padma Shri awards, five Padma Bhushan awards and a Padma Vibhushan.

27 awards received by Hockey players constituted of 26 Padma Shri and one Padma Vibhushan award.  Dhyan Chand was one of the first sportspersons to receive a Padma Award. He received Padma Bhushan for Hockey in 1956.

All the 23 awards given to athletes were  Padma Shri.

20 sportspersons received Padma Awards at least two times

While a total of 242 awards were conferred to sportspersons, it is observed that 43 of these awards went to 20 persons or in other words, 20 persons were the recipients of the awards at least twice. Sachin Tendulkar, Vishwanathan Anand and Mary Kom were recipients of these awards thrice. In the following table, Bharat Ratna, Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan and Padma Shri have been abbreviated as BR, PV, PB and PS respectively.  

Six cricketers have received Padma Awards multiple times. Three persons each from Badminton, Mountaineering and Tennis received the award at least twice. Pullela Gopichand, Saina Nehwal and P V Sindhu, the three recipients of multiple awards in Badminton are from Telangana.

padma awardees_padma awardees for sportspersons multiple times

Nine states account for almost 75% of the awards conferred to sportspersons

Three states have more than 20 awardees each while nine states have more than ten awardees each. Maharashtra tops the list with 35 awardees followed by Delhi with 28 and West Bengal with 20 awardees. Haryana and Karnataka have 17 awardees each followed by Punjab and Tamil Nadu with 16 each. Telangana has 15 awardees and Uttar Pradesh has 14. These nine states alone account for almost three-quarters of the awardees in sports. Of the 35 awardees in Maharashtra, 16 were cricketers.

Cricketers still dominate the Padma Awardees list but others catching up

In the 66 odd years, from when Padma Awards were introduced in the country, the trend of padma awardees from various sports has fluctuated. Between 1954 and 1976, a total of 60 awards were given to sportspersons. In the subsequent period, 1977 to 1998, only 54 awards were given in total to sportspersons. However, in  the 1999-2020 period, sportspersons received a total of 128 awards, a lot more than the total number of awards in the previous years- 52% of the awards in sports were given out in this period. This increase is also to do with the general increase in the number of padma awards given during this period.

It is evident from the data that cricket dominated in each of these periods with the maximum number of awards conferred. In the 1954-1976 period, one out three sportspersons who received the award was a cricketer. However, in 1977-1998 and 1999-2020, cricketers accounted for one-fifth of the awardees in sports.

padma awardees_period wise trends for awardees for sports

Similarly, the percentage of awardees in Mountaineering has dropped from 30% up to 1976 to 11% in 1977-98 and further down to 8.6% in 1999-2020. Same is the case with Hockey, from 15% in 1954-76 to 8.6% in 1999-2020. However, the percentage of awardees in other sports such as Badminton, Tennis, Athletics and Shooting have increased recently.

Between 1954 & 1976, sportspersons belonging to 10 different sports disciplines were recipients of padma awards compared to 13 between 1977 & 1998. This number has more than doubled to 29 in the 1999-2020 period which is an encouraging sign.


About Author

A bachelor’s degree in mathematics and master’s in social science, she is driven by ardent desire to work with this unique combination to create her own path instead of following the herd. Having served a stint as the college union chairperson, she is a strategist who is also passionate about nature conservation, art and loves solving Sudoku.

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