Who are year 2020 Padma Awardees in Biotechnology


by Dr Seema Pavgi Upadhye

Padma Awards – one of the highest civilian Awards of India, are conferred in three categories, namely,
Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan and Padma Shri. The Awards are given in various disciplines/ fields
of activities, viz.- art, social work, public affairs, science and engineering, trade and industry, medicine,
literature and education, sports, civil service, etc. ‘Padma Vibhushan’ is awarded for exceptional and distinguished service; ‘Padma Bhushan’ for distinguished service of high order and ‘Padma Shri’ for distinguished service in any field. The awards are announced on the occasion of Republic Day every year.

This year no Padma Vibhushan was awarded to bioscience field whereas one Padma Bhushan has been
awarded and 18 Padma Shri have been received by people who did exceptional work in Biotechnology.

Padma Bhushan
Tsering Landol is an Indian gynecologist and one of the pioneers of women’s health in Ladakh region in the North Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. She serves the Sonam Norboo Memorial Government Hospital, Leh and is also associated with other educational institutions. The Government of India awarded her the fourth highest civilian honour of the Padma Shri, in 2006, and Padma Bhusan in 2020 for her contributions to Indian medicine, making her one of the few woman recipients of the award from Jammu and Kashmir and the first Ladkahi woman doctor to receive the honour. She is also featured on the ‘Wall of Fame’ which features those who have exhibited excellence throughout their career or whose existence has exemplified glory and greatness.

Padma Shri
Dr Padmavathy Bandopadhyay became the first woman Air Marshal in the Indian Air Force, taking over as Director General Medical Services (Air) at the Air Headquarters in New Delhi in 2004. Prior to this, she was lauded as the first woman Air Vice-Marshal (2002) and the first woman Air Commodore (2000) in the IAF. She is member of the Indian Society of Aerospace Medicines, International Medical Society and New York Academy of Sciences. She has also been a member of a research expedition to the Arctic. She is the first Indian woman to have conducted scientific research at the North Pole. In the late eighties, she went to the Arctic to join an Indo-Russian physiology experiment to determine whether people from tropical Indian climates could acclimatise themselves to extreme cold conditions. She spent four months at the North Pole between November 1989 and February 1990. On her return, she was awarded Indira Priyadarshini Award for being an Outstanding Lady with so many achievements. This was the first time any Lady in uniform was honoured with this Award.

Dr Sushovan Banerjee is better known to the residents of West Bengal’s Bolpur as ‘Ek Takar Daktar’ (one rupee doctor) for treating poor patients for just a rupee. Dr. Sushovan Banerjee is a veteran General Practitioner from Bolpur in West Bengal. He has been practicing Cardio Diabetes since 1980 from his own set up at Bolpur. During his career, Dr. Banerjee received Gold Medal in DCP and a prestigious ‘Best Citizen of India’ award conferred by East West Friendship Society of India. Dr Sushovan is an alumnus of Calcutta National Medical College and completed Diploma in Clinical Pathology (Haematology) in 1976 and DEP in 1989.

Prof. B N Gangadhar is a Senior Professor of Psychiatry and the current Director of NIMHANS as well as Program Director of the NICY. He was also the Medical Superintendent of NIMHANS hospital till Jan 2010. He has published over 240 scientific articles in peer-reviewed national and International journals. His research areas include ECT, RTMS & Yoga, Schizophrenia and Community Psychiatry. He heads an advanced center for Yoga therapy at NIMHANS. He has coordinated the development and design of a patented indigenous ECT machine. He has received the prestigious Sir CV Raman award in 1999 and the BC Roy award in 2010 by the Karnataka Government. He is also the Fellow of National Academy of Medical Sciences. He has guided four PHDs and nearly 20 MD dissertations. Dr Gangadhar is the associate editor of Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica and a co-editor for the Asian Journal of Psychiatry. He has travelled widely on scientific agenda and has served on organizations like WHO.

Professor Kattungal Subramaniam Manilal is an Emeritus of the University of Calicut, a botany scholar and taxonomist, who devoted over 35 years of his life to research, translation and annotation work of the Latin botanical treatise Hortus Malabaricus. This epic effort brought to light the main contents of the book, a wealth of botanical information on Malabar that had largely remained inaccessible to English-speaking scholars, because the entire text was in the Latin language. Manilal has over 198 published research papers and 15 books to his credit as author and co-author. He and his associates have credits to discovering over 14 species of flowering plants, varieties and combinations new to science. Manilal is the Founder President of the Indian Association for Angiosperm Taxonomy (IAAT).

Dr Sujoy Kumar Guha is an Indian biomedical engineer. He did his undergraduate degree (B.Tech.) in electrical engineering from IIT Kharagpur, followed by a master’s degree in electrical engineering at IIT, and another Master’s degree from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. He later received his Ph.D. in medical physiology from St. Louis University. He then founded the Centre for Biomedical Engineering, IIT Delhi and AIIMS and also obtained his MBBS degree from the University College of Medical Sciences, Delhi University. One of the founders of biomedical engineering in India, Prof. Guha is internationally known in the areas of rehabilitation engineering, bioengineering in reproductive medicine and technology for rural health care. He has received several awards and has more than 100 research papers in cited journals. In 2003 he became a chair professor at IIT Kharagpur. His major contributions have been in the invention and development of non-hormonal polymer-based injectable male contraceptive (RISUG), Problem-solving at a national level regarding contraceptives in mass usage, especially Copper T and individualized spot air-conditioning system for hospital patients and rehabilitation of the blind.

Dr Digambar Behera is Senior Professor and Head, Department of Pulmonary Medicine Post Graduate Institute, Chandigarh and Ex. Director LRS Institute of Tuberculosis and Respiratory Diseases. Dr Behera is an internationally acclaimed Respiratory Physician, teacher and researcher. He has distinguished himself with contributions of innovative nature and exceptional achievements in the field of Respiratory Medicine. In tuberculosis, Prof. Behera’s contributions in the Revised National TB Program have been exemplary. He has been the Chairman of the National Task Force for involvement of Medical Colleges in tuberculosis control. Under his able leadership and persuasive abilities the program has been popularized and practiced in over 400 medical colleges and institutions in India. As the Chairman of the National Operational Research Committee for tuberculosis, he has been instrumental in taking decisions on many path breaking operational issues.

Dr Kushal Konwar Sarma has been conferred Padma Shri for his outstanding contribution in the field of wildlife treatment and Asian Elephant conservation. Dr Sarma is the professor and head of the Department of Surgery and Radiology of the College of Veterinary Science at Khanapara in Guwahati. Popularly, he is known as “Hati (Elephant) Doctor” in Assam because of his outstanding service in tranquilising and taming rogue wild elephants. Without a weekend off for last 10 years, Dr Sarma treated more than 7,000 elephants, both captive and wild. He also played the important role in taming about 200 rogue bull elephants during the last three decades. Dr Sarma is a member of the Steering Committee, Project Elephant of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change and also a member of the IUCN Species Survival Commission on Asian Elephant Specialist Group.

Dr Leela joshi is the woman physician, who is also known as Mother Teresa of the Malwa region for her selfless service to humanity. She had completed services with railways as the Chief Medical Director in the year 1997 and since then has been fighting anaemia among tribal women and teenage girls in Ratlam district. Despite her frail body and growing age, she regularly visits tribal dominated areas and renders free of cost medical services on anaemia, pregnancy related issues and other illnesses of women. She was listed among top 100 influential women of the country in a survey carried out by Dept of Women and Child Development.

Dr. R. Ravi Kannan is Director at Cachar Cancer Hospital and Research Center Silchar, Assam, India. He was a renowned oncologist from the Adyar Cancer Institute in Chennai. Later he shifted to the Cachar Cancer Hospital and Research Centre, Silchar, Assam, where he is a surgical oncologist who is specialized in head and neck oncology and bone and soft tissue sarcoma. His vision has turned a small cancer center into a full-fledged hospital in Assam’s Barak valley, a remote area on the Indo-Bangladesh border in Assam with limited access to medical care. He was running this hospital with few resources to provide better patient care to the cancer patients. The Hospital Society is also raising funds to support cancer patients including free of cost treatment including patient/family accommodation, food, and an employment center where able patients and attendants can work.

Dr. (Prof.) Narendra Nath Khanna, is Advisor to Apollo Group of Hospitals in India and is presently working as Senior Consultant in Cardiology & Coordinator of Vascular Services at Indraprastha Apollo Hospital, New Delhi. He is also appointed as Honorary Professor of Cardiology at LPS Institute of Cardiology, GSVM Medical College, Kanpur. Before joining Apollo Group of Hospitals, he worked as Sr. Consultant in Cardiology at Escorts Heart Institute & Research Centre and as Director of Escorts Heart Centre, Kanpur. He has performed more than 10,000 invasive and interventional procedures and has established interventional Cardiology services in many cities of India. He has special interest for endovascular and peripheral vascular interventions and has pioneered newer techniques for percutaneous mechanical pulmonary thrombectomy and techniques for Endovascular treatment of Aortic Aneurysms, ischemia & gangrene of the limbs, Endovenous Laser therapy and Below Knee Interventions. He has authored 26 book chapters and has about 120 publications in various national and international journals to his credit. He has been invited as a faculty and has given more than 400 guest lectures in international and national scientific meetings.

Dr. Navin Khanna is presently an Arturo Falaschi Emeritus Scientist and Group Leader at Recombinant Gene Products Laboratory at ICGEB. He is also an adjunct professor at the Translational Health Sciences and Technology Institute (THSTI), Faridabad and School of Medicine at Emory University, Atlanta, USA. He is a fellow of all three Science Academies of India and his translational work has been recognized by several awards and honors. The diagnostic kits developed by Dr. Khanna are used in India and are exported to several other countries. The Dengue Day 1 kit launched in 2012 has captured more than 70% of the market share. The kit can detect Dengue infection from day 1 of the fever. Dr. Khanna has been working on genetically engineered bio-molecules of medical use at ICGEB. The “know-how” from his team has resulted in successful commercialization of 23 diagnostic kits for viral infections.

Dr. Shanti Roy is one of the best Obstetrician and gynecologists of India. She remains the last hope for women in Bihar and Jharkhand for variety of pregnancy and reproduction related problems. Her clinic has become a landmark in Patna which is flooded with hundreds of patients daily. Dr. Shanti Roy had opened her private nursing home at Kankarbagh while working in PMCH. Initially, she had to face lots of problems, and had to resort to offer for patients. However, over time, she made a mark of herself. It was her expertise in handling cases of those women who had difficulty in getting pregnant that made her famous in the Northern India.

Dr Arunoday Mondal is serving in the remote forest areas of Sunderbans, Dr Arunoday Mondal set up a free medical service centre, in 2000, and since then has been providing free treatment to the locals in the remote area. His centre “SUJAN” has steering ahead with expansion in multidirectional ushering ventures like education, social service etc. Arunoday Mondal, known as ‘Sunderban ke Sujan’ travels six hours every weekend to treat patients in remote Sundarban villages.

Dr Yogi Aeron is surgeon who treats burn patients for free in Dehardun. His clinic, situated close to Malsi – on the way to the popular hill station of Mussorie, is dedicated to providing medical help to the people of the hills, which also include those suffering from burns or injuries inflicted by animals. For more than a decade, he has been conducting an annual two-week camp with the assistance and participation of doctors from foreign nations. His team comprises 15-16 doctors who perform nearly 12 surgeries daily and they have executed over 5000 surgeries in the past decade.

Batakrushna Sahoo is a farmer from Sarkana village of Balasore Sahoo started pisciculture in 1986. He trained many farmers in spawn production through traditional breeding methods. He did not get any financial help from the government. He also trained students of several colleges in Odisha. Mentioning about the efforts, he explained, “The award is the result of nearly 35 years of dedication to farming. I have extended help to many farmers who have shown interest in this and have not charged any fee.”

Radha Mohan, a retired economics professor and his conservationist daughter, Sabarmatee, have been conferred with the Padma Shri – a recognition for their decades-long efforts to transform a barren land into a lush food forest in Odisha’s Nayagarh district. Founded by the duo in 1990, Sambhav, the resource centre, has become a torch-bearer in the field of conservation, agriculture and organic farming. When they landed near Odagaon, 110 km from Bhubaneswar, the land was completely barren. They started using ecological waste to create the top soil and subsequently began planting trees. As a result, 36 hectares of degraded land now boasts of rare varieties of clove bean, jack bean, black rice and sword bean apart from a number of other food trees. The forest has over 1,000 species of plants and 500 varieties of rice, and supports a seed bank with 700 indigenous varieties of seeds.

Trinity Saioo name has become synonymous with turmeric in India. Saioo, was awarded the Padmashree in 2020 for her work in developing rural women-owned sustainable organic farming. She has successfully trained around 800 women in her village of Mulieh, Meghalaya, to grow the purest and most potent form of turmeric through organic farming methods. Saioo belongs to the Jaintia hill tribe, one of the matrilineal hill tribes of Meghalaya. Saioo’s Self Help Groups collective owns two cooperatives: the Leng Skhem Spice Producer Industrial Cooperative Society, and the Life Spice Federation of Self-Help Groups, both based in the Jaintia Hills.

Dr Sandra Desa Souza is an ENT Head, Neck and Cochlea Implant Surgeon and has an experience of 54 years in this field. She is the first Indian Fellow of the American Otological Society. She is the first woman surgeon in the world to pioneer the Cochlear implant surgery in India and Asia in 1987. Dr. Souza was one of the first ENT surgeons in the country to perform artificial ear operations, is credited to have given the gift of hearing to thousands of patients. Dr. Sandra Dsouza has received various reputed awards for her remarkable performance. Some of them are mentioned below: Recipient of Vijayshree Award in the field of ENT. Bharat Excellence Award. The Best Citizens of India Award. Millennium Achiever Award. UWA Lifetime Achievement Award. Women of the year 2002 by the American Biographical Institute. International Scientist of the year 2003. Women of the year representing in India 2011.

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