The Padma Vibhushan is the second-highest civilian award of the Republic of India, preceded by Bharat Ratna and followed by Padma Bhushan. Instituted on 2 January 1954, the award is given for “exceptional and distinguished service”, without distinction of race, occupation, position, or sex. The award criteria include “service in any field including service rendered by Government servants” including doctors and scientists, but excludes those working with the public sector undertakings. As of 2016, the award has been bestowed on 294 individuals, including 6 posthumous and 19 non-citizen recipients.
During 1 May and 15 September of every year, the recommendations for the award are submitted to the Padma Awards Committee, constituted by the Prime Minister of India.
The first recipients of the award were Satyendra Nath Bose, Nandalal Bose, Zakir Hussain, Balasaheb Gangadhar Kher,Jigme Dorji Wangchuk, and V. K. Krishna Menon, who were honoured in 1954. The 1954 statutes did not allow posthumous awards but this was subsequently modified in the January 1955 statute.
The “Padma Vibhushan”, along with other personal civil honours, was briefly suspended twice, from July 1977 to January 1980 and from August 1992 to December 1995. Some of the recipients have refused or returned their conferments. Vilayat Khan, Swami Ranganathananda, and Manikonda Chalapathi Rau refused the award, Lakshmi Chand Jain’s family declined the 2011 posthumous conferment, and Baba Amte returned his 1986 conferment in 1991. On 25 January 2016, the award was conferred upon ten recipients, including one non-citizen recipient: V. K. Aatre, Girija Devi, Avinash Dixit, Jagmohan, Yamini Krishnamurthy, Rajinikanth, Ramoji Rao, V. Shanta,Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, and posthumously to Dhirubhai Ambani.
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