Bengaluru: The winners from Karnataka this year of one Padma Vibhushan (posthumous) and seven Padma Shri awards include leading lights in the fields of spiritualism, sports, medicine, trade and industry, social work, and literature and education (journalism).
They are Sri Vishwesha Tirtha Swamiji Sri Pejawar Adhokkaja Matha Udupi, M.P. Ganesh, Bangalore Gangadhar, Bharat Goenka, Tulasi Gowda, Harekala Hajabba, K.V. Sampath Kumar and Vidushi Jayalakshmi K.S. and Vijay Sankeshwar.
Karnataka’s revered Hindu pontiff Vishwesha Tirtha Swami of Pejawar Mutt was the lone posthumous Padma Vibushan winner from the state.
The spiritual guru was born on April 27, 1931 to M. Narayanacharya and Kamalamma at Ramakujna in what is now Dakshina Kannada district. Vishwesha Tirtha was ordained as a monk at the age of 8 in 1938 in the lineage of guru parampara of the Pejawar Mutt.
Considered as a reformist by many, the seer visited Dalit colonies when it was taboo.
Though he was rooted in Hindu causes such as cow protection and played an active role in the Ram Janmabhoomi movement, he organised Iftars for Muslims during Ramadan in the ancient Sri Krishna temple complex at Udupi.
The pontiff passed away in coastal Udupi town on December 29 at the age of 88.
The government of India has honoured him posthumously for the spiritual services he rendered to the people of the state.
In the sports category, former hockey player M.P. Ganesh, 72, won a Padma Shri. He was part of the Indian team in the 1973 World Cup and several other tournaments. He later went on to serve as the captain and coach of the national team.
Ganesh also served as chief executive officer of Karnataka State Cricket Association (KSCA). He hails from Karnataka’s hockey belt of Kodagu.
Bangalore Gangadhar, director of the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS), has been honoured with a Padma Shri in the field of medicine.
With 30 years of experience in mental health, Gangadhar has published more than 300 research papers in national and international journals, and guided nearly 50 MD and PhD scholars.
In the field of trade and industry, software product company Tally co-founder and managing director Bharat Goenka gets the Padma Shri.
Tally grew from being a small and medium enterprise accounting package to a complete business software for different kinds of companies.
Tulasi Gowda, 72, won a Padma Shri in the social service category for her impressive knowledge of diverse species of herbs and plants.
Though not highly educated, Gowda is known as the ‘Encyclopaedia of Forest’, for championing the cause of environmental protection over the past 60 years.
Harekala Hajabba, 64, an orange seller from New Padpu village, won the Padma Shri for his efforts to educate poor children. “Hajabba was in a line at a ration shop when authorities informed him that he got a Padma Shri,” tweeted IFS officer Parveen Kaswan.
According to Kaswan, Hajabba has been educating the poor children from his own savings.
K.V. Sampath Kumar and his wife Vidushi Jayalakshmi K.S. won the Padma Shri in the field of literature and education-journalism for running a Sanskrit newspaper, Sudharma.
The couple multitask to edit, proof read and publish the Sanskrit daily.
Vijay Sankeshwar, 69, was the second Karnataka Padma Shri winner in the trade and industry category.
Sankeshwar is the chairman of logistics company VRL which runs a fleet of 4,835 vehicles.
The entrepreneur is a former parliamentarian from Dharwad (North) constituency.