NEW DELHI: Among 85 Padma awardees this year, 16 are foreigners given the prestigious award for their work in public affairs, art and dance, yoga, spiritualism, medicine, social work, trade, literature and education.

Among the prominent names are the late Russian ambassador to India Alexander Kadakin who has been given the Padma Bhushan posthumously. He was the envoy from 2009 until his death in 2017 and played a key role in boosting Indo-Russia ties. In fact, a road was named after him in Chanakyapuri last year.

V P Nanda, an OCI (overseas citizen of India), USA, has also been awarded the Padma Bhushan. Sanduk Ruit, an eye surgeon from Nepal, got the Padma Shri. Ruit is an AIIMS-educated opthalmologist whose 1980s’ innovation led to a 90% reduction in the cost of cataract surgery. He reportedly treats 2,500 patients aweek, free for those who can’t afford, and himself trekking to those who cannot make it to Kathmandu. AVietnamese, Nguyen Tien Thien, secretary general of National Vietnam Buddhist Sangha, was given the Padma Shri.

Other Padma Shri recipients include Ramli Bin Ibrahim, a Malaysian classical Odissi dancer; Bounlap Keokangna, a conservationist from Laos who played an important role in the restoration of a Shiva Temple in Laos; Saudi Arabia’s Nouf Marwaai, the first certified yoga instructor who played a critical role in legalising yoga in Saudi Arabia; and Habibullo Rajabov from Tajikistan, an Indologist known for his work in disseminating Hindi language in Tajikistan.