Visualizing India’s Padma Awards

The impact of a country on global corruption and instability Introduction As the world becomes increasingly connected and intertwined, so do the fortunes oIndia’s most prestigious set of civilian awards comprise of The Padma Awards and Bharat Ratna Award. These have been awarded to Individuals – Indians, and foreigners, since 1954, as a mark of distinguished and exceptional contribution in their respective fields – such as art, literature, education, science, technology, trade, etc. The Padma Awards include 3 different awards – the Padma Bhushan, the Padma Shri, and the Padma Vibhushan. The Padma Awards are conferred by the official Padma Awards Committee which is constituted by the Indian Prime Minister every year; however, the nomination process is open to the public. Unlike the Padma Awards, the Bharat Ratna awards do not require any formal committee. Instead, the nominations for Bharat Ratna are suggested by the Prime Minister to the President. Furthermore, the Bharat Ratna Awards are restricted to a maximum of three per year. The Padma Awards have been announced annually on India’s Republic Day, except for 1978, 1979 and from 1993 to 1997.

The Padma Awards Data Asset

The Padma & Bharat Ratna awards are given out based on decisions made by using well-defined processes, guidelines and high standards of assessments, by the Government of India. Having said that, there have been concerns raised about the awards being influenced by political or other factors, ever since its inception. In a vibrant and often messy democracy such as India’s, with rapidly changing economic, demographic and social factors, it would be logical to assume that these awards are influenced by issues, beyond just contribution & merit. In a country of 1.3 billion people with usually no more than 100 awards given out each year, the outcomes are often questioned.

With this understanding in mind, the team at ZIGRAM wanted to carry out analytics on the awards and the awardees. The first issue which we encountered was the lack of reliable data on the individuals who had won these awards, especially prior to the internet & media age in India.

To solve this, we set up a Data Asset team at ZIGRAM, consisting of data engineers, researchers, engineering resources and visualization specialists to aggregate, create, validate and transform patchy and often difficult to obtain information, into a Data Asset for the purposes of telling an objective story, about the most important civilian awards of India.

Building the Data Asset

The team went through months of research, built over 4700 awardee profiles, scoured through thousands of sources & curated extensive data points – just so that we could create a cohesive picture – by analyzing the who, when, where and why of the Padma Awards.

Many things which we found were interesting, certain were expected, but a few were truly surprising.

While we have put these down under the Insights section, our aim was also to offer the general public (you) a dashboard so that one could explore this Data Asset by using an easy, intuitive and visual platform.


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Using The Dashboard

The dashboard has been made using Power BI and has been designed to allow the user to interact and engage with it, in an easy to use and intuitive manner. Below are guidelines to use.

Overview – Allows the user to understand the data distribution of Padma Awards. It has the option to change the year and the award type to further understand and explore the awards granted.

Timeline – Provides user the ability to compare different years in the awards data distribution. An option to explore the data in regards to age-group, gender and profession are also available, highlighting the government in power and the notable events during the selected year.

IA select list of insights derived from our analysis of the Padma Awards Data Asset.

  • The ratio of awards for Men and Women since 1954 is 5:1 and still remains true for the last decade.
  • Trade and Industry in the Pre Liberalization Era (before 1991) has attained an annual average of 1.86 awards. Post Liberalization, this number has seen a jump to 4.53.
  • Only 0.04% of all awards have been given for Agriculture and Forestry, which accounted for approximately 50% of employment in 2018.
  • All the awards for â€˜Religion’ as the area of contribution, have been granted in the regime of BJP (Bhartiya Janata Party).
  • Overall, the highest number of awards have been given to individuals in Age-Group 56-75 which seems to align with the criteria of having consistently accumulated body of work.
    Sports, however, is an exception to the trend mentioned above, wherein the majority of awardees lie in Age-Group 15-35.
  • Art, Literature and Education, constitutes 44% of total awards granted till date.
  • Awardees for Art have seen a proportionate increase whereas awardees for Civil Service have seen a proportionate decrease, over the years.
  • Foreigner and Non-Resident awardees constitute of only 5.50% of all awardees.
  • Only 1 award has been granted to a transgender, in the year 2019.
  • In the years surrounding an election, an interesting pattern emerges. More awards are usually distributed during or immediately after the election year.
  • 1978-1980: No awards were given in the years 1978 and 1979. And only 4 awards were given in the year 1980. An interesting fact about this time period is that it came right after the “The Emergency” ended along with Indira Gandhi’s regime in India.
  • 1993-1996: During these years, no awards were given due to a written petition filed in the high court of Kerala with an intent of questioning the nature of these awards.
  • 50% of all Awards have been awarded to individuals from Delhi, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, and Uttar Pradesh.
  • Lakshadweep is the only region of India from where nobody has been awarded till date.


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