Former Sheriff of Mumbai Dr. Jagannathrao Hegde has been running from pillar to post for getting his name nominated for the Padma Shri Awards since last one year. Hedge is known to be close to Congress but now since BJP-led NDA government is in power, he is not sure whether his recommendation for Padma Shri Awards will be considered. Is the government not serious about honouring Hegde or are there more deserving candidates for the Award? Hegde has been trying hard for the prestigious Award and has forwarded letters of recommendations to the government but till now he has not received any favourable response. A Dental Surgeon by profession, Hedge was the Sheriff of Mumbai from 2004 to 2006. Hegde finds himself eligible for Padma Shri as he has been working for the welfare of the downtrodden people since the last 50 years. He was chosen by the government as the Best Sheriff of Mumbai in the past 100 years.
Padma Shri is the fourth highest civilian award in India after the Bharat Ratna, Padma Vibhushan, and Padma Bhushan. Afternoon Voice had an interaction with Dr. Jagannathrao Hedge as he spoke about the corruption prevailing in the system while conferring Padma Awards and he expressed how much he deserves the prestigious Award.
Since we have heard that you have been recommending your name for Padma Shri awards why the government is not paying heed towards it?
He pauses and said the government has decided to honour the BJP leaders and RSS activists for Padma Shri Awards. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Amit Shah want Padma Shri Awards to be given to people associated with their party and sharing its ideology.
If Congress government was at the centre then it would have been easier for you to get Padma Shri Award?
I agree that my work would have been easier if the Congress-led UPA government was in the power. I had organised several training camps, hence I was honoured with Lion’s Millenium Award.
Often it has been observed that Padma Shri Awards have generated a lot of controversies?
As I have already mentioned that the government is giving awards to those who are associated with BJP and RSS. And this award has become commercialised.
There was a talk about Padma Shri being given to Sridevi and when she was alive it was not possible?
Sridevi was a very popular actress and had won several awards. However, she was honoured with Padma Shri posthumously after people had almost forgotten Sridevi. How can the government all of a sudden honour her with Padma Shri after her demise? A person should be honoured with Padma Shri within six months after his/her demise and not after one or two years.
Is ideology the main factor for getting the nomination for the Padma Shri Award?
Awards can be given after the recommendation made by the Ministers, Governors, and former Padma Shri Awardees. When Virat Kohli had recommended his name for the prestigious Award, his request was immediately considered by the government as the Cricketer has already made his mark in the International Cricket.
Is the government discrediting the work of those who have been doing good work?
I don’t think.
Those who were close to the UPA government received Padma Shri and now those who are close to BJP are honoured with this prestigious award. So don’t you think that both the governments are playing the same game?
Absolutely, I agree!
What parameters does the government follow while honouring a person whose ideology differs from the government? For instance, Kumar Ketkar was honoured with Padma Shri during Vajpayee’s reign as PM.
That must be an exceptional case but you know about the current situation. The government has a tendency to put ‘desh drohi’ or anti-national label on a person whoever criticises them.
The prominent people are not being targeted like the common people?
Yes. I agree.
You also attended a marriage event of acid victims and gave them blessings? Is there a need for the welfare of such deprived classes now?
He smiles and says, yes it is a must. It’s a criminal act to spend the whole life with a disfigured face.
Any recent social work you are involved in the coming months?
Every year Ganesh Darshan Competition is being held and hundreds of mandals participate in this competition and awards are also given. We undertake a check-up school children and advise them on dental health.
Medical treatment is very expensive and poor people are unable to afford them. Is there any initiative taken by you to create awareness among citizens about affordable healthcare facilities?
We conduct a camp and examine people’s teeth and offer them a card. We direct them to St. George or Nair Hospital.
Do you have any political ambitions?
I have played my role and want youngsters to take over. I had a big innings but still a long way to go in the social field.