More than 250 Padma Awards were conferred on Sportspersons since 1954. While Cricketers dominate the list, the awards have been conferred on persons from a greater diversity of sports disciplines in the last two decades.
The well-known civilian awards of the country, the Padma Awards, are announced 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. ‘Padma Vibhushan’ is awarded for exceptional and distinguished service; ‘Padma Bhushan’ for distinguished service of high order and ‘Padma Shri’ for distinguished service in any field. A detailed explainer on what the awards are and who they are given to was published by Factly earlier. In addition to the Padma Awards, the government also confers ‘Bharat Ratna’, the highest civilian Award in the country. But Bharat Ratna is not announced/awarded every year, unlike the Padma Awards.
In this story, the trends in award across fields have been analysed. The data for this story has been taken from Dataful.
106 Padma Awards were approved by President of India for 2023
In 2023, on the eve of India’s 74th Republic Day, the President approved the conferment of 106 Padma Awards including 6 Padma Vibhushan, 9 Padma Bhushan and 91 Padma Shri Awards. 19 of the awardees are women, 2 persons from NRI/POI/OCI/Foreigners category and 7 are posthumously awarded. No one was conferred with Bharat Ratna, the highest civilian award. The awards are conferred by the President of India in ceremonial functions held at Rashtrapati Bhavan around March/April.
Since the inception of the awards in 1954, and until 2023, a total of 5,107 civilian awards have been conferred by the Indian Government over the 7 decades. Of these, 3,423 are Padma Shri, 1,305 are Padma Bhushan, 331 are Padma Vibhushan, and 48 are Bharat Ratna awards. In terms of share, about two-thirds of the Padma awards were Padma Shri (67%), 26% were Padma Bhushan, 6% were Padma Vibhushan and 1% was Bharat Ratna. No Bharat Ratna has been conferred since 2019.
Average number of Padma Shri awards conferred has increased in the recent decades
The trend in awards conferred over the years reveals that there has been an overall increase in the average number of Padma Shri awards conferred in recent years. Between 1954 and 1963, the annual average number of Padma Shri awards conferred was 19 which increased to 52 in the following decade. Between 2014 and 2023, an average of 91 Padma Shri awards were conferred each year.
While persons in ‘Arts’ received most number of civilian awards, more than half the Bharat Ratna awards were conferred on persons in ‘Public Affairs’
More than 1000 awards each were conferred on persons belonging to the field of Arts, and Literature & Education. Persons belonging to the field of Arts received the highest number of awards (1140, accounting for 22%) followed by those belonging to the field of Literature and Education (1000) and Medicine (608) in that order. Altogether, these three fields alone constituted nearly 54% of the total awards conferred as of 2023. Including Science & Engineering (536) and Social Work (514), these five fields together accounted for more than 74% of the awards conferred as of 2023. The trend across different categories of awards is as follows:
- 27 out of the total 48 Bharat Ratna awards or 56% of the Bharat Ratna awards were to persons in the field of public affairs.
- The majority of the Padma Vibhushan awards were conferred on persons in the field of public affairs (77) followed by arts (64) and civil service (53). The three fields together accounted for 59% of the total 331 awards conferred in this category.
- In the category of Padma Bhushan, 298 awards were conferred on those in the field of Literature and Education followed by 248 awards for those in Arts and 157 in Science and Engineering.
- 821 Padma Shri awards were conferred on those in Arts followed by 658 in Literature and Education, accounting for more than 43%.
Five states accounted for more than half the civilian awards received
The highest number of awardees were from Delhi (828) and closely followed by Maharashtra (827). These were the only two states with more than 800 awardees and each of them accounted for more than 16% of the total awardees. Tamil Nadu had the third-highest number of awardees with 442 followed by Uttar Pradesh with 353. West Bengal had 296 awardees. These top 5 states together accounted for about 54% of the total awardees and including Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Gujarat, and Punjab, the top 10 states accounted for 73% of the awardees.
261 awards were conferred on sportspersons and cricket received the highest
Persons in the field of Sports received 261 awards. This includes 224 Padma Shri, 32 Padma Bhushan and 4 Padma Vibhushan awards. Only one sportsperson (Sachin Tendulkar) has been conferred with the Bharat Ratna.
Nearly 58% of the total Padma awards in sports went to those from the four disciplines of cricket (58), mountaineering (36), athletics (29), and hockey (28). Badminton players received 12 while Tennis players received 11 awards. Players in 10 sports- cricket, mountaineering, hockey, athletics, badminton, tennis, wrestling, boxing, chess, and football alone received 79% of all the civilian awards to sportspersons.
Cricketers received 45 Padma Shri, 11 Padma Bhushan, and 1 Padma Vibhushan. Cricket is the only sport that has recipients in all four categories including the Bharat Ratna. Cricket also dominates in each of the Padma award categories in terms of the number of awards.
The share of awards conferred on cricketers has dropped in recent years while the number of sportspersons among the awardees has increased in the last two decades. Cricket constituted 38% of the Padma Awards in sports between 1954 & 1963 and 32% in the subsequent decade. In the last two decades, the share of cricket in Padma awardees in sports dropped to 20% between 2004 & 2013 and 16% between 2014 & 2023. No cricketers were in the list in 2021 and 2022 while Gurcharan Singh, a cricket coach was given the Padma Shri in 2023. Persons from multiple other sports are being recognized in Padma Awards since the 2000s which is also why the share of cricketers receiving the award has dropped.
Three sportspersons received 3 civilian awards each
Apart from Sachin Tendulkar who was conferred with the Bharat Ratna in 2014, Padma Vibhushan in 2008, and Padma Shri in 1999, Viswanathan Anand and Mary Kom are the only two other sportspersons who were conferred with three awards each. They both were conferred with all three Padma Awards. A total of 21 sportspersons received the civilian awards more than once.