Before 2021, the shadow of politics remained on the Padma Award, till then the Padma Award had no importance.
-Ali Peter John
The day the Padma awards go away without controversy and are accepted unanimously, the awards will receive the kind of honor they have never received since they were instituted in 1954. And instead of changing things for the better, they are only getting worse. Take a look at what’s been happening with the Padma awards recently and you’ll know what I’m trying to say. And to think of it, stories like this have been happening since Padmé began. But let me tell you about a particular incident which I was witness to and you will not be surprised what happens at this time when dirty politics in every field can lead to anything.
Dev Anand was declared the winner of the Padma Bhushan award at a time when many of his juniors were honored with a higher award like the Padma Vibhushan and even the very calm and peaceful Dev Anand, who didn’t care much at all . The awards took this award of Padma Bhushan as an insult to his seniority and his contribution to Indian cinema. And he made an immediate and impulsive decision to return the prize without assigning any reason because he felt it would create controversy if he gave reasons and he hated controversies.
He tried his best to keep the news about the return of the award a secret, but the news somehow got leaked and before the awards were announced, he got a call from Mr. Sharad, a senior politician who was one of the senior most cabinet ministers. Pawar requested Dev Saheb not to refuse the award as he had recommended it. Dev told him that he or anyone should have realized that he deserved the higher award and Pawar asked him to understand his position and promised him that he would be awarded Padma Vibhushan next year. But nothing like this happened and when Dev came to know of this, he smiled one of his best smiles and said, “As long as politics is allowed to play its dirty hands in any field in life, then Things like this are bound to happen.”
The same thing happened with Dev again during the Dadasaheb Phalke Award. As per rules, the award was decided by a majority of six of the previous Dadasaheb Phalke Awardees. Dev was declared the winner as four members voted in his favor and when an attempt was made to find out who the other two might be who felt he did not deserve the highest award for a filmmaker or actor, it was found. To many’s surprise, the two members who voted against him were Yash Chopra and Asha Bhosle and when Dev came to know, he said, “What do these people have against me? I have only tried to be nice to them and I have tried my best to contribute towards the growth of the industry.” I realized that these awards made an otherwise very pleasant and positive Dev to the industry and the people in the industry as a whole. Made a little bitter and sometimes downright negative in his attitude towards him.