Noted writer-filmmaker Gita Mehta, who is also the sister of Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, on Saturday turned down the Padma Shri award which was announced on Friday.
Citing the timing of the awards, Mehta said she was is declining the award as “there is a general election looming and the timing of the award might be misconstrued.”
“I am deeply honoured that the Government of India should think me worthy of a Padma Shri but with great regret I feel I must decline as there is a general election looming and the timing of the award might be misconstrued, causing embarrassment both to the Government and myself, which I would much regret,” Mehta said in a statement from the US where she lives.
Mehta, 76, was selected for the coveted honour in the category Literature and Education.
Mehta has authored books like Raj (1989), Snakes and Ladders: Glimpses of Modern India (1997) and Eternal Ganesha: From Birth to Rebirth (2006). She has also produced and directed 14 documentaries.
She had also served as a TV war correspondent for US TV network NBC briefly. She is married to US-based publisher Sonny Mehta.
Her brother Naveen Patnaik refused to comment specifically on the award to the sister but congratulated all those who have been conferred with the honour.
“I congratulate all the Odias who got the Padma award,” he said after participating in a function to mark the Republic Day.
Union Ministry of Home Affairs on Friday announced the name of 112 recipients of the Padma awards, one of the highest civilian awards of the country on the eve of the country’s 70th Republic Day.
The Padma awards are conferred in three categories, namely, Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan and Padma Shri, the second, third and fourth highest civilian awards of the country respectively, only after Bharat Ratna.
This year’s awardees comprise four Padma Vibhushan, 14 Padma Bhushan and 94 Padma Shri recipients.