Four personalities from Kerala have been conferred with the Padma awards this year. Kalaripayattu veteran Sankaranarayanan Menon Chundayil (popularly known as Unni Gurukkal), retired professor Dr Sosamma Iype, poet P Narayana Kurup and social worker KV Rabiya are the Padma Shri recipients from the state.
Sankaranarayana Menon is a living legend in Kalariayattu. The award was conferred upon him for his contributions in the field of martial arts. Popularly known as Unni Gurukkal, the 93-year-old still runs a Kalari training centre in Thrissur. His three sons and daughter help him with training sessions. Unni Gurukkal and his family Mudanabgattil had played a major role in popularising Kalari.
Dr Sosamma Iype, a retired professor of animal breeding and genetics from Kerala Agricultural University (KAU), was among the pioneers in starting a movement to conserve the Vechur breed of cows since 1988. She, along with a few other like-minded individuals, formed an organisation called the Vechur Conservation Trust the same year. The team had just eight Vechur cows, which they found from different parts of Kerala. Later, the movement became so popular that many groups joined the mission to conserve the breed.
KV Rabiya, 55, who also has physical disabilities, is an acknowledged social worker from Malappuram. She played a major role in literacy campaigns in Malappuram. She also started an organisation called Chalanam and got involved in various areas of social work. Her autobiography Swapnangalkku Chirakukalundu was released in 2009.
The 84-year-old Malayalam poet P Narayana Kurup, who had been into poetry since the 1970s, was also conferred with the Padma Shri award for his contribution to literature. He has also bagged the Kerala Sahitya Akademi Award, Odakkuzhal Award, Ulloor Award, Vallathol Award and many other recognitions.