The government has selected 118 people from the field of social work who will be given the Padma Shri Award. The list included the names of Jagdish Lal Ahuja, Javed Ahmad Tak, Satyanarayana Mundayoor, S. Ramakrishna, Yogi Aeron, Tulasi Gowda, Abdul Jabbar, Usha Chaumar and others.
The government said Ahuja, who is also known as 'Langar Baba,' is being awarded for "selflessly organising langars for 500-plus poor patients daily for over two decades in Chandigarh".
Ahuja also provides patients with financial assistance and clothes.
The government said that Ahuja is a self-made billionaire who came to India empty-handed during the Partition.
He sold off properties worth crores to fuel his mission and continues to serve undeterred even by stomach cancer.
Tak, who belongs to Anantnag in Jammu and Kashmir, has been working with specially-abled children for two decades to enable them to integrate into the mainstream life.
Tak is wheelchair-bound since 1997 due to a spinal injury that he received from a bullet fired in a militant attack.
Another Padma Shri awardee, Sharif aka 'Chacha Sharif,' is a resident of Faizabad in Uttar Pradesh.
The government said that Sharif, a bicycle mechanic, has been performing the last rites of thousands of unclaimed dead bodies for the last 25 years.
Among the other "unsung heroes" who will be awarded the Padma Shri is Tulasi Gowda, also known as the 'Encyclopaedia of Forest' due to her vast knowledge of diverse species of plants and herbs despite not having any formal education.
The government said that Gowda, despite growing up in poverty in a backward community, planted and nurtured thousands of trees over the past 60 years.
"Even at the age of 72, she continues to nurture plants and share her knowledge with the people, carrying forward the message of environment protection," the government said.
Another recipient is Mundayoor, also known as 'uncle Moosa' of Arunachal, who has been promoting education and reading culture in remote areas of Arunachal Pradesh for the last four decades.
Mundayoor, who was born in Kerala had left his government job as a revenue officer in Mumbai and moved to Lohit in Arunachal in 1979, has established 13 libraries in remote areas such as Wakro, Chongkham, Lathaw and Ajnaw.
He also started a home library movement entrusting books to volunteers who in turn distribute the books to children.
( With inputs from IANS )