Every year the highest civilian awards of the country “The Padma Awards” in their three forms: Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan and Padma Shri are being given/conferred/bestowed by government of India on individuals for their unique/distinguished contributions in various categories/fields/disciplines literature and education, arts, science and engineering, trade and industry, civil services, public affairs, sports, and medicine.for the benefit of society.
The awards are announced on Republic Day every year and are conferred by the President at a ceremonial function around March or April. This year, the President has approved conferment of 128 Padma Awards 4 Padma Vibhushan,17 Padma Bhushan and 107 Padma Shri Awards. Of them, 34 are women, 13 awards are posthumous, and 10 awards are for persons from the category of Foreigners/NRI/PIO/OCI.
In science and engineering, it is not always the innovations or new inventions which improve the lives and living standards of common people but the role of science and engineering becomes more important when the knowledge is used for the development of society as a whole. Thus, in the era of science and engineering, it becomes imperative to learn not only about the individuals but also their contribution towards the well being of society in terms of science and engineering for which they have been recognized to be conferred the highest civilian awards “The Padma Awards”. This year (2022), one (1) Padma Bhushan and seven (7) Padma Shri awards are bestowed on people who have excelled in making science and engineering inventions more people friendly and here the distinguished works done by these individuals are thus highlighted.
Shri Sanjaya Rajaram (Posthumous) has been conferred Padma Bhushan. Back in 2001, the Government of India had awarded him the Padma Shri. Dr Sanjaya Rajaram, an Indian-Mexican agricultural scientist, developed high-yielding and disease-resistant wheat varieties that small and large farmers grow across 51 countries. This Scientist’s Wheat Has Saved Millions of Lives Globally. Dr Sanjaya Rajaram, who passed away on 17 February 2021 at his home in Ciudad Obregón, a city in the Sonora province of Mexico, ranks among the most outstanding agricultural scientists of present time. Building on the success of the Green Revolution, his research is
responsible for the development of 480 varieties of wheat that small and large farmers grow across 51 countries over 6 continents, leading to an increase in global production by more than 200 million tonnes. What stands out about the 480 varieties of wheat he developed is their “increased yield potential and stability, along with wide adaptation and resistance to important diseases and stresses”. “These varieties include the spring and winter wheat cross Veery, which was released in 36 countries; new approaches to disease resistance, for instance, ‘slow-rusting’ wheat varieties; and largely reduced foliar blight susceptibility in semi-dwarf wheat…One of his wheats, PBW 343, is India’s most popular wheat variety. His varieties have increased the yield potential of wheat by 20 to 25 per cent”.
Born in 1943, Rajaram grew up in a modest household near a small farming village of Raipur in Varanasi district, Uttar Pradesh. His family made a living off their 5-hectare farm growing wheat, maize and rice. Rajaram, meanwhile, went to a village school about 5 km from his home, where he completed his primary and secondary school education. A bright student, he won a scholarship to attend high school, following which he went to the University of Gorakhpur where he obtained a BSc in agriculture. Following graduation, he obtained his master’s degree from the Indian Agricultural Research Institute in New Delhi, where he studied genetics and plant breeding under Dr MS Swaminathan, renowned for his leading role in India’s Green Revolution. Following his master’s degree, he went to Australia to complete his PhD in plant breeding at the University of Sydney on a scholarship. There he met with Dr IA Watson, who had studied alongside Dr Norman Barlaug as a graduate student at the University of Minnesota. It was Dr Watson, who would recommend Rajaram to Barlau at the CIMMYT in Mexico.
Dr. Subbanna Ayyappan from Karnataka has been conferred the Padma Shri in science and engineering. He is an aquaculture scientist who is playing a key role in powering India’s Blue revolution. Dr Subbanna Ayyappan (67) has a PhD from Bangalore University and a master’s degree in fish production and management from the College of Fisheries in Mangalore. He has published research papers on fisheries, limnology, and aquatic microbiology. He is a former director of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research and the chancellor of the Central Agricultural University in Imphal. The scientist is currently serving as chairman of the Karnataka Science and Technology Academy (KSTA). Prof Ayyappan was the first non-crop scientist to head the council. He has published research papers on fisheries, limnology and aquatic microbiology. In the past, he has served in many important positions in government and academic positions including that of National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) and has also been a member of the Planning Commission.
Dr. Sanghamitra Bandyopadhyay has won Padma Shri for her contributions to the field of Science and Engineering. Bandyopadhyay is the Director of Indian Statistical Institute (ISI), Kolkata. Prior to being the director at ISI, she worked as a professor in the Machine Intelligence Unit. She also did her PhD from ISI. She was the first female director of the institute and is also a member of the Science, Technology and Innovation Advisory Council (PM-STIAC) of the Prime Minister of India. Her research focuses on evolutionary computation, machine learning, pattern recognition, data mining and bioinformatics. Earlier, Dr Bandyopadhyay has received Bhatnagar Prize, the TWAS Prize, the JC Bose Fellowship, the Infosys award, and the DBT National Women Bioscientist Award. She has also authored and co-authored over 300 research papers and published six books.
Dr. Aditya Prasad Dash, Padma Shri recipient has led India's war against Mmalaria. Dr. Aditya Prasad Dash is the current Vice Chancellor of Asian Institute of Public Health in Bhubaneswar is also the former Vice Chancellor of Central University of Tamil Nadu. Also the ex-regional adviser to World Health Organization (SEARO), Prasad Dash hails from the eastern state of Odisha. Prof. Aditya Prasad Dash completed his PhD (Zoology), DSc and MSc degrees from Utkal University in Bhubaneswar, Odisha. Aditya Prasad Dash has made significant contributions in the field of malaria and vector-borne diseases (VBD). His contributes include developing numerous tools and technologies in tackling vector-borne diseases. Professor Aditya Prasad Dash has authored 320 publications and has co-authored 699 publications. For his work in the field of zoology and diseases, he has received numerous awards. These include the Lifetime Achievement Award by International Association of Educators for World Peace, INBUSH Award for outstanding scientific contribution by Amity University, and the Dr. A.P. Ray Award for outstanding contributions in Malaria research by the government of India. For more than 35 years, Dash worked at the Institute of Life Science and Indian Council of Medical Research.
Dr. Motilal Madan, a well-known animal doctor and regenerative biotechnologist of the country who freed animals from infertility and has succeeded in increasing the fertility in other animals like cow and buffalo with the help of more than 12 hormones. Not only this, he also successfully started embryo cloning in buffaloes in India as well as in many countries of the world. For many successful research done for animals, Dr. Moti Lal has got a different and unique identity not only in India but around the world. Dr. Motilal’s works can be understood from the fact that he is now being called the clone maker of animals. During his services at the National Dairy Research Institute located in Karnal, Haryana, he successfully tested the IVF technique on animals and gave birth to 10 calves within a year from a single buffalo. He served as the director of National Dairy Research Institute in Karnal and pioneered research in reproductive endocrinology, embryo biotechnology, IVF, and cloning.
Dr. Anil Rajvanshi Selected for Padma Shri is an academician and is the current Director of the Nimbkar Agricultural Research Institute (NARI). Dr. Rajvanshi was born and raised in Lucknow, UP. He did his B.Tech and M.Tech from IIT Kanpur in (1972) & (1974) and Ph.D. from University of Florida (USA) in 1979. He has been the director of NARI at Maharashtra, India since 1981. Prior to taking this position he served on the faculty at the University of Florida. Dr. Rajvanshi has more than 35 years of experience in renewable energy research, rural and sustainable development. He has more than 150 publications and 7 patents to his credit. For his solar energy and rural development work Dr. Rajvanshi has been inducted into the Solar Hall of Fame (1998). He has received the Jamnalal Bajaj Award in 2001, the Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) award in 2002 and an Energy Globe Award in the AIR category in 2004. In 2009 he received the Globe Award for Sustainability Research and in 2014 he became the first Indian to receive the Distinguished Alumnus Award from University of Florida. Recently he has been listed as one of the notable alumni of Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur. As a grassroot scientists he is working on sustainability and rural development with a work experience in renewable energy research and some of his work includes renewable energy-based cooking and lighting; power generation from agriculture residues; renewable fuel production from agriculture; electric cycle rickshaws; water purification and effluent treatment through the use of renewable energy.
Dr. Ajai Kumar Sonkar is being awarded the Padma Shri this year for his discovery of black pearls, which has gained him international recognition. Dr Sonkar is the chairman of the Pearl Aquaculture Research Foundation and principal investigator of the research mission in this field. His work in developing pearl making techniques using state-of-the-art tissue culture has gained worldwide recognition. As a teenager, Dr Sonkar wanted to become an engineer and studied physics, chemistry and mathematics at Allahabad University. But it was an episode of a Doordarshan afternoon TV show that piqued his interest in pearl culture. Dr Sonkar wanted to make pearls from oysters in freshwater, the way the Japanese did. While he realized soon that this would prove to be a strenuous task, he didn’t give up. In 1993, he successfully developed a method to develop black pearls in freshwater and received an invitation to attend the first International Conference on Pearl Culture. Today, the scientist has dozens of research papers published in international journals to his credit and has given lectures about pearl culture in at least 68 countries. Japan has the technology but it does not have a natural climate. It gets so cold that a round of pearl culture takes at least two and a half to three years. But here it happens between six months to a year. India has this advantage. Our pearls are also of better quality,” Dr Sonkar explained. According to a report by The Print, former president Dr APJ Abdul Kalam described Dr Sonkar’s discovery of black pearls as a great achievement for the country.
Dr. Jyantkumar Mangaldas Vyas is an Indian academic and forensic scientist who serves as a Vice Chancellor of National Forensic Sciences University, Gandhinagar. Vyas served as the Director for the Directorate of Forensic Science, Gujarat State from 1993 to until his retirement in 2009. He held the additional charge of the office until 2020. He was the Director General of the Gujarat Forensic Sciences University from February 2009 to 2020. The university was renamed the National Forensic Sciences University in 2020 and he continued as the Vice Chancellor. Vyas was awarded the President's Medal for his services in 1997. In 2004, he was awarded the Commendation Certificate as the Best Forensic Science Laboratory Director at the 15th All India Forensic Science Conference. He was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award in Forensic Chemistry by Amity University and AIIMS, New Delhi in 2008.