Padma Awards, namely, Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan and Padma Shri are given for exceptional and distinguished service in any field including service rendered by Government servants. Padma Awards were instituted in the year 1954. The Padma Awards are announced on the eve of the Republic Day every year except for brief interruption(s) during the years 1978 and 1979 and 1993 to 1997. Government servants including those working with PSUs, except doctors and scientists, are not eligible for these Awards. 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 Padma Awards are conferred on the recommendations made by the Padma Awards Committee, which is constituted by the Prime Minister every year. The nomination process is open to the public. Even self-nomination can be made.
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.
The award seeks to recognize works of distinction and is given for distinguished and exceptional achievements/service in all fields of activities/disciplines. An illustrative list of the fields is as under:
- Art (includes Music, Painting, Sculpture, Photography, Cinema, Theatre etc.)
- Social work (includes social service, charitable service, contribution in community projects etc.)
- Public Affairs (includes Law, Public Life, Politics etc.)
- Science & Engineering (includes Space Engineering, Nuclear Science, Information Technology, Research & Development in Science & its allied subjects etc.)
- Trade & Industry (includes Banking, Economic Activities, Management, Promotion of Tourism, Business etc.)
- Medicine (includes medical research, distinction/specialization in Ayurveda, Homeopathy, Sidhha, Allopathy, Naturopathy etc.)
- Literature & Education (includes Journalism, Teaching, Book composing, Literature, Poetry, Promotion of education, Promotion of literacy, Education Reforms etc.)
- Civil Service (includes distinction/excellence in administration etc. by Government Servants)
- Sports (includes popular Sports, Athletics, Adventure, Mountaineering, promotion of sports, Yoga etc.)
- Others (fields not covered above and may include propagation of Indian Culture, protection of Human Rights, Wild Life protection/conservation etc.)
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.