The Government of India announced the list of Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan and Padma Shri awards for the year 2022. Seven veterans from various fields — music, literature, medicine, etc — received awards from Tamil Nadu. One Padma Shri award went to renowned Thavil artist Kongamapattu AV Murugaiya from Puducherry. Below is the full list of Padma awardees from TN and Puducherry.
Sirpi Balasubramaniam: A poet, critic, and scholar from Tamil Nadu, Sirpi Balasubramanian has won many literary awards for his works. He has won the Sahitya Akademi award more than once. In 2003, he was given the Sahitya Akademi award for his poetry collection called A River in a Hamlet (Oru Giraamattu Nadhi). In 2001, he won the Sahitya Akademi award for his translation of Lathikambika Antharjanam’s Agnisakshi into Tamil. In his career, he has published over 12 books of poems and literary criticism books. He has won the Padma Shri under the Literature and Education category.
S Ballesh Bajantri: A well known Indian Shehnai player and Hindustani vocalist, S Bhallesh and his son Krishna Ballesh perform together. The duo were awarded Tamil Nadu state’s highest civilian award - Kalaimamani. S Bhallesh trained under the shehnai virtuoso Ustad Bismillah Khan. He has been awarded the Padma Shri for his contribution to the field of Classical Music under the Art category.
Sowcar Janaki: A veteran South Indian actress who has appeared in over 450 films predominantly in Tamil, Telugu and Kannada. Some of her best known films are Iru Kodugal (1969), Thiruneelakantar (1972) and Batasari (1961). She has won several prestigious awards in the course of her career including National Award for Best Supporting Actress for Samsaram Oka Chadarangam, 1987, and Amoolyam, 2007, Tamil Nadu State Film Award for Best Actress in 1970 for Iru Kodugal and Kalaimamani among others.
Dr Veerswamy Seshiah: Diabetologist and founder of the Dr Balaji Diabetes Care Centre and Research Institute in Chennai, Dr Seshiah was given the Lifetime Achievement Award and the Doctor of Science (Honoris Causa) award from the Dr MGR Medical University. According to a congratulatory yweet by Tamil Nadu BJP head, K Annamalai, Seshiah was the first diabetologist in India and was responsible for the establishing the first Department of Diabetology in India at the Madras Medical College.
R Muthukamnamal: She is a practitioner of the sathir dance, which is performed traditionally by devadasi women. She is the last surviving dancer of the 32 devadasis who once performed for the deity at Viralimai’s Murugan temple in Trichy district. In 2018, she received the Dakshina Chitra Virudhu, an annual award given by The Madras Craft Foundation and The Friends of Dakshina Chitra in recognition of folk artists.
Aenjala Kuppusami Chinnikrishna Natarajan, or AKC Natarajan is a well-known clarinet player in the Carnatic music tradition. He is also known by the honorific—Clarinet Everest, with reference to the heights he has reached in his profession. The honorific was given to him by his mentor, TN Rajarathinam Pillai, after a performance of his in 1952, he had earlier told the Times of India. Notably, AKC Natarajan modified the ebony clarinet he plays with to reduce the conventional 14 holes to 7. He was conferred the title of Sangita Kalanidhi in 2009 by the executive committee of the Music Academy.
S Damodaran: A social worker from Tamil Nadu, S Damodaran has won the Padma Shri under the category of social work. S Damodaran is a social worker who founded Gramalaya - an organisation that works towards development of women and children in rural areas and better sanitation. After he realised the problems with open defecation in rural areas, Gramalaya planned interventions to cover safe drinking water supply through hand pumps, piped water supply through individual tap connection and sanitary household toilets in the villages coupled with hygiene education.
Kongamapattu AV Murugaiya: A renowned Thavil (percussion instrument) player, from Puducherry. He has been awarded the Padma Shri in 2022 under the Art category. He is the only awardee from Puducherry.