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President gives Padma awards

NEW DELHI, JUNE 30. The President, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, today conferred Padma awards on 86 eminent personalities from various walks of life.

The second-highest civilian honour, the Padma Vibhushan, was given to the former Chief Justice of India, M.N. Venkatachaliah, while the other two awardees — poet and novelist Amrita Pritam and astronomer and astrophysicist Jayant Vinshu Narlikar — did not turn up.

Gulzar, lyricist and writer; Gopichand Naran, Urdu scholar; M.V. Kamath, journalist; T.N. Seshagopalan, music composer; and N. Rajam, violinist, were among the 17 who received the Padma Bhushan. Yoshiro Mori, who was chosen for the award for promoting India-Japan friendship, was absent.

The Indian cricket captain, Sourav Ganguly, and the vice-captain, Rahul Dravid, singer A. Hariharan, actor Anupam Kher, Tamil filmmaker Bharati Rajaa, Mohiniattam exponent Bharati Shivaji, cartoonist Sudhir Tailang and athlete K.M. Beenamol were among the 74 Padma Shri awardees.

The President presented a medal and a certificate to each awardee. Dr Kalam came down the podium at least 14 times whenever the recipients were elderly or had difficulty in walking.

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