The government told the Lok Sabha on Tuesday that lobbying and connections played a role in getting Padma awards earlier but the process has been changed and those excelling in different areas are given the award.
Minister of State for Home Affairs Nityanand Rai said in reply to supplementaries in the Lok Sabha that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has brought unprecedented change in the process of giving awards and there was no prejudice as was the case earlier.
"There has been a lot of difference in the selection process. Earlier, there used to be the impact of lobbying, people close to the (leaders) used to get awards. Now those who devote their lives to the service of society and country and do exceptional work get the awards," he said.
In his written reply, the minister had said that 272 foreigners, Non-Resident Indians, Overseas Citizens of India (OCIs) and Persons of Indian Origin (PIOs) have been conferred the Padma Awards since inception in 1954.
He said any person without distinction of race, occupation, position or sex is eligible for the Padma Awards.
However, serving government servants, including those working with Public Sector Undertakings, except doctors and scientists, are not eligible for the awards, he said.
He said all nominations and recommendations, including self-nominations, are placed before the Padma Awards Committee for its consideration. The committee scrutinizes all nominations and submits its recommendations for approval of the President.
He said no rigid criteria or formula for selection is applied by the Padma Awards Committee and it looks for life time achievement of an individual as well as an element of public service in the achievements.
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