The Padma Awards are given in all disciplines or fields of activities, such as art, social work, public affairs, science and engineering, trade and industry, medicine, literature and education, sports, civil service, etc. The awards are announced on the occasion of Republic Day every year. These awards are conferred by the President of India at a function held at Rashtrapati Bhavan sometime around March or April. Padma means Lotus and Lotus flower is the national flower of India.
- Padma Vibhushan is awarded for exceptional and distinguished service. As of Jan 2016, the award has been bestowed on 294 individuals, including 6 posthumous and 19 non-citizen recipients.
- Padma Bhushan is awarded to recognize distinguished service of a high order to the nation. As of Jan 2016, 1230 people have thus far received the award.
- Padma Shri or Padam Shree is awarded for distinguished service in any field. As of Jan 2016, 2680 people have been awarded Padma Shri.
Padma Awards seeks to recognize work of any distinction and is given for distinguished and exceptional achievements/service in all fields of activities/disciplines, such as Art, Literature and Education, Sports, Medicine, Social Work, Science and Engineering, Public Affairs, Civil Service, Trade and Industry etc. It has also been awarded to some distinguished individuals who were not citizens of India but did contribute in various ways to India. As per the Ministry of Home Affairs, There ought to be an element of public service in the achievements of the person to be selected. It should not be merely excellence in a particular field but it should be excellence plus.
All persons without distinction of race, occupation, position or sex are eligible for these awards. However, Government servants including those working with PSUs, except doctors and scientists, are not eligible for these Awards. The award is normally not conferred posthumously. However, in highly deserving cases, the Government could consider giving an award posthumously if the demise of the person proposed to be honoured has been recent, say within a period of one year preceding the Republic Day on which it is proposed to announce the award.
A higher category of Padma award can be conferred on a person only where a period of atleast five years has elapsed since conferment of the earlier Padma award. However, in highly deserving cases, a relaxation can be made by the Awards Committee.