MS Dhoni, Pankaj Advani conferred with Padma Bhushan at Rashtrapati Bhavan

Padma Awards 2018

New Delhi, April 3: President Ram Nath Kovind on Monday presented Padma Awards to 43 persons including cricket legend Mahendra Singh Dhoni and billiards champion Pankaj Advani in a ceremony at the Rashtrapati Bhavan.

Both Dhoni and Advani have accumulated a host of accolades in their respective careers.

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Weightlifter Saikhom Mirabai Chanu and former Asian Games gold medallist tennis player Somdev Devvarman were honoured with the Padma Shri award at the Rashtrapati Bhavan.

Dressed in an Army uniform, Dhoni marched to the dais to receive Padma Bhushan from the president amid a huge round of applause from the audience. Dhoni was conferred with the honorary rank of Lieutenant Colonel by the Indian territorial Army in 2011.

37-year-old Dhoni was conferred the honorary rank of Lieutenant Colonel by the Indian Territorial Army in November 2011, months after he led his team to bring home its second World Cup. When his name was announced, Mr Dhoni, dressed in the Army uniform, walked like a soldier to receive the award.

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Mr Dhoni has won several awards, including the ICC ODI Player of the Year award in 2008 and 2009 (the first player to win the award twice), the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award in 2007 and the Padma Shri, India’s fourth highest civilian honour in 2009.

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Advani is regarded as the best billiards/snooker player to have ever come out of India. He has won eight world titles in as many years and a total of 19.

He recently defended his Asian Billiards Championships title in style by beating his practice partner B Bhaskar 6-1 in the summit clash in Yangon, Myanmar. This means that he remains the Indian, Asian and world champion in billiards for 2017-18. Advani had voiced his discontent at being ignored for the Padma Bhushan in 2017.

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According to a release, the Padma Bhushan – the third highest civillian honour – was presented to five people– Dhoni, billiards champion Pankaj Advani, Russian Ambassador to India Alexander Kadakin (posthumously), Indian artist Laxman Pai and folk singer Sharda Sinha while Padma Shri was awarded to 38 people.

Actor Manoj Joshi was conferred with Padma Shri.

Among the dignitaries present on the occasion were the Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan and Union Ministers.

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