Rationalise Padma awards policy

T. N. PANDEY | Updated on November 15, 2017

The Government needs to seriously consider why the bureaucracy is not getting due representation amid Padma awardees.

Each year on Republic Day, awards like Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan and Padma Shri are announced indicating the Government's recognition for achievements in various fields such as art, music, cinema, public affairs, science, literature, trade, medicine and civil services.

Occasionally, promotions are also announced from Padma Shri to Padma Bhushan ad Padma Bhushan to Padma Vibhushan for previous awardees. Awards are announced posthumously also so much so that demands are now being made for Bharat Ratna awards for Bahadur Shah Zafar, Sarat Chandra Chattopadhya, Subramanian Bharati etc.

However, such awards for civil services are meagrely given and those who get awards in such disciplines are mostly retired people cosily settled in Raj Bhawans or are in other well-placed positions.

Practically, no attention is given to serving civil servants, toiling day after day outstandingly in service of the country in not very satisfactory environment relating to work and living conditions. Their share in Padma list is extremely low.


The Government has not only been apathetic to them, there is no demand from the public also for such persons.

While there is tremendous pressure for persons like Sachin Tendulkar for Bharat Ratna because of his contribution to cricket, for which he gets handsome amounts, no one talks about the Indian Revenue Officer, who raised a tax demand of Rs 11,000 plus crore in the case of Vodafone and made the IT Department to consider similar action in various other big cases, which when completed, could have lead to similar high demands, working relentlessly for late hours for months together, wading through meticulously drafted agreements by top legal persons (without much expert legal assistance of the nature available to the multinational companies on huge payments) to make the Revenue raise a demand of Rs 11,000 plus crore.

The order was confirmed by the Bombay High Court by a 192-page judgement. Unfortunately, it has not been approved by the Apex Court, not because there was anything fundamentally wrong in the approach of the Assessing Officer, but because of lacunae in the IT Act.

There are umpteen cases, where officers of the Revenue Service, hailing from income tax, customs, central excise, sales tax, services enforcement department, etc., work arduously, living in small houses, getting emoluments just sufficient for every day's living, with most of theirs and family requirements remaining unfulfilled.

Yet, they perform their functions brilliantly and raise tremendous revenues for the Govt. (for the year 2011-12, the income-tax collections are expected to be Rs. 5.35 lakh crore). Why should such officers not be considered for such awards while in service along with those who earn crores of rupees for themselves and live in luxurious housesfrom the business and professional activities that they pursue and for which they are honoured with Padma Awards and the motivation in their achievements are mostly personal benefits and name and fame to the country is incidental?

IT Department

Good thinkers need to consider why the representation of civil services should remain less in the recognitions by the Government in the form of Padma awards.

Since these awards were instituted, only one person in the IT Department has been honoured with Padma Shri despite very good work done year-after-year, leading to constant increase in revenues of the Government and napping of tax evaders, through their efforts.

An important reason for India's growth and achievements in various fields, despite the fissiparous tendencies, is its strong bureaucracy which works relentlessly for days without any other monetary inducements besides salaries, which do not match in any way with the private sector.

The Government needs to seriously consider why such workforce is not getting due representation amid Padma awardees. Recognition during service period would greatly boost the morale and enthusiasm of such officers to put in their best for the good of the country. Hence, more rationality needs to be brought in the policy of Padma awards.

(The author is a former chairman of CBDT.)

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Published on February 12, 2012
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