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Thursday, March 22, 2001

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Lata Mangeshkar given Bharat Ratna


By Our Staff Reporter

NEW DELHI, MARCH 21. Lata Mangeshkar, whose rendition of ``Ae mere watan ke logon'' brought tears to the eyes of the country's first Prime Minister, was honoured with the country's highest civilian award - Bharat Ratna - here this evening.

The award was presented to the melody queen by the President, Mr. K. R. Narayanan, in the Durbar Hall of the Rashtrapati Bhavan ahead of the 54 Padma awardees honoured in the first of the two- part Civil Investiture ceremony. In all, one Bharat Ratna, five Padma Vibhushans, 16 Padma Bhushans and 33 Padma Shris were given away at the 35-minute ceremony, attended among others by the Vice-President, Mr. Krishan Kant, and the Prime Minister, Mr. Atal Behari Vajpayee.

Given the large number of awardees this time round, the Civil Investiture ceremony was split into two parts. The second round of awards - including the other Bharat Ratna, to the shehnai maestro Ustad Bismillah Khan - will be given away tomorrow.

A good number of the awards today went to doctors who accounted for 10 of the 54 Padma honours. Prominent among them was Dr. Chitranjan Singh Ranawat, who recently flew down to Mumbai from the U. S. to operate upon the Prime Minister's knee, and the eminent Delhi-based cardiologist, Dr. Naresh Trehan.

Culture was another section that had a considerable presence. As many as 10 awards went to cultural luminaries, including some from the world of celluloid. Prominent among them were the sarod maestro, Ustad Amjad Ali Khan (Padma Vibhushan), film-maker Bhupen Hazarika (Padma Bhushan), violinist Lalgudi Gopalaiyer Jayaraman (Padma Bhushan) and the seasoned villain- turned- character actor Pran (Padma Bhushan). Also among the awards was Padmaja Phenany Joglekar who has sung the poems of the Prime Minister, his predecessor, Mr. V. P. Singh, and poet Harivanshrai Bachchan.

While the literary figures walked away with over half- a-dozen awards, the remaining were shared by industrialists, technocrats and scientists. The lone person to keep aloft the sports banner in today's list of awardees was the World Chess Champion Viswanathan Anand, who got a Padma Bhushan.

Of the two foreigners awarded Padma Vibhushan this time, only one - Mr. Hosei Norota, who has held several influential posts in the Diet (Japanese Parliament) and has been a champion of Indo- Japanese cooperation - was present to accept the honour. The other foreigner given a Padma Vibhushan was the ``great friend of India'' and former U.S. Ambassador to India, Prof. John Kenneth Galbraith.

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