Those who said no to top awards

Abul Kalam Azad | Freedom Movement Leader

As India's first education minister, he refused the Bharat Ratna arguing that those who selected awardees should not themselves be recipients. Was posthumously awarded in 1992

Romila Thapar | Historian

Turned down Padma Bhushan in 1992 and 2005 because she wanted to "only accept awards from academic institutions or those associated with my professional work"

Dattopant Thengdi | Rss Leader

Refused to accept Padma Bhushan in 2003 "until revered Dr Hegdewar (RSS founder) and Shri Guruji (RSS ideologue Golwalkar) are not offered the Bharat Ratna"

Ustad Vilayat Khan | Sitar Maestro

Turned down Padma Shri (1964) and Padma Vibhushan (1968), saying the awards committee wasn't competent enough to judge his music

Ratan Thiyam | Theatre Personality

Returned his Padma Shri in 2001 to protest the Centre's decision to extend the Naga ceasefire, saying he had taken the step as "a compulsion of my bleeding heart". In a letter to the President, Thiyam said the government's decision had "caused deaths, injuries, turmoil and restlessness in the North-East"

Nikhil Chakravartty | Journalist

Turned down Padma Bhushan in 1990 because he believed journalists should not be identified with the establishment

Sukumar Azhikode | Malayalam Writer

Did not accept Padma Shri in 2007, terming it "unconstitutional"

Khushwant Singh | Journalist

Returned his Padma Bhushan in protest against Operation Blue Star (1984); awarded Padma Vibhushan in 2007

K Subrahmanyam | Defence Analyst

Turned down Padma Bhushan in 1999; believes bureaucrats and journalists should not accept any award from the government because they are more liable to be favoured

Kanak Sen Deka | Assamese Writer

Refused Padma Shri in 2005, saying the love and affection shown by the people of Assam would be lowered by his acceptance

Sitara Devi | Kathak Diva

Refused Padma Bhushan (2002), calling it an "insult". Pointing out that younger and lesser known people had got Padma Vibhushan, she said "nothing short of Bharat Ratna will do"

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