The Padma Awards are one of the highest civilian honours of India announced annually on the eve of Republic Day.
- The Awards are given in three categories: Padma Vibhushan (for exceptional and distinguished service), Padma Bhushan (distinguished service of higher order) and Padma Shri (distinguished service). The award seeks to recognize achievements in all fields of activities or disciplines where an element of public service is involved.
- Padma Awards, which were instituted in the year 1954, is announced every year on the occasion of Republic Day except for brief interruption(s) during the years 1978 and 1979 and 1993 to 1997.
- The award is given in three categories, namely,
- Padma Vibhushan for exceptional and distinguished service
- Padma Bhushan for distinguished service of a high order; and
- Padma Shri for distinguished service.
- All persons without distinction of race, occupation, position or sex are eligible for these awards. However, Government servants including those working with PSUs, except doctors and scientists, are not eligible for these Awards.
- The award is normally not conferred posthumously. However, in highly deserving cases, the Government could consider giving an award posthumously.
- A higher category of Padma award can be conferred on a person only where a period of at least five years has elapsed since conferment of the earlier Padma award. However, in highly deserving cases, a relaxation can be made by the Awards Committee.
- The awards are presented by the President of India usually in the month of March/April every year where the awardees are presented a Sanad (certificate) signed by the President and a medallion.
- The recipients are also given a small replica of the medallion, which they can wear during any ceremonial/State functions etc., if the awardees so desire. The names of the awardees are published in the Gazette of India on the day of the presentation ceremony.
- The total number of awards to be given in a year (excluding posthumous awards and to NRI/foreigners/OCIs) should not be more than 120.
- The award does not amount to a title and cannot be used as a suffix or prefix to the awardees’ name
- All nominations received for Padma Awards are placed before the Padma Awards Committee, which is constituted by the Prime Minister every year.
- The Padma Awards Committee is headed by the Cabinet Secretary and includes Home Secretary, Secretary to the President and four to six eminent persons as members.
- The recommendations of the committee are submitted to the Prime Minister and the President of India for approval.
- Bharat Ratna is the highest civilian award of the country. It is awarded in recognition of exceptional service/performance of the highest order in any field of human endeavour. It is treated on a different footing from Padma Award.
- The recommendations for Bharat Ratna are made by the Prime Minister to the President of India.
- No formal recommendations for Bharat Ratna are necessary.
The number of Bharat Ratna Awards is restricted to a maximum of three in a particular year. Government has conferred Bharat Ratna Award on 45 persons till date.