Three Indian Americans received Padma awards in 2021: Srikant Datar, Narinder Singh Kapany (posthumous), and Rattan Lal.
Harvard Business School (HBS) Dean Srikant Datar, who became the 11th dean of HBS on January 1, 2021, received the Padma Shri award in Literature and Education. During his tenure at the school, he has served as Senior Associate Dean for University Affairs (including Chair of the Harvard Innovation Lab), for Research, for Executive Education, for Faculty Development, and for Faculty Recruiting. He holds two master’s degrees and a Ph.D. from Stanford University and has authored or co-authored multiple books and many case studies. Datar has taught executive education and MBA courses in big data, design thinking, innovation, and strategy implementation. He won teaching awards at both Carnegie Mellon University and Stanford University.
Narinder Singh Kapany, known as the “father of fiber optics,” who died in December 2020 at the age of 94, received the Padma Vibhushan award in Science and Engineering. He was a Regents Professor at UC Santa Cruz from 1977 through 1983, and later established two endowed chairs at the school: the Narinder Singh Kapany Chair in Optoelectronics in the Basking School of Engineering in 1999 and the Narinder Singh Kapany Professor in Entrepreneurship in 2021. He started several companies in Silicon Valley, held more than 120 patents, and was a member of the National Inventors Council. Kapany founded UC Santa Cruz’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurial Development (CIED)and was a noted philanthropist, championing Sikh culture and language.
Rattan Lal, a professor of soil science at the Ohio State University, received the Padma Shri award in Science and Engineering. He received the 2019 Japan Prize for sustainable soil management for global food security and mitigation of climate change and was awarded the 2020 World Food Prize for developing and mainstreaming a soil-centric approach to increasing food production that restores and conserves natural resources and mitigates climate change. He teaches courses about soil and soil physics and has published many articles.
Padma Awards are among the highest civilian awards in India and are conferred in three categories: Padma Vibhushan is for exceptional and distinguished service; Padma Bhushan is for distinguished service of a high order; and Padma Shri is for distinguished service in any field. For 2021, 119 awards were conferred: seven Padma Vibhushan, 10 Padma Bhushan, and 102 Padma Shri.
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