The Padma awards have now become "people's awards", Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Sunday, adding earlier the decision was taken by a select few but now it is completely people driven.
In his monthly 'Mann ki Baat' address, the prime minister said this year over 46,000 nominations were received for the Padma awards, which is more than 20 times the number of nominations received in 2014 when the Modi government first came to power.
The President has approved conferment of 141 Padma awards this year.
"This statistics reveals the faith of every one of us and tells us that the Padma awards have now become the Peoples' awards. The entire process of the Padma awards is now completed online. Earlier, the decision was taken by a select few. Now, it's completely people driven," he said.
He said there is now a "new found faith and respect" for these awards in the country.
Many among the awardees are those who have risen from the bottom of the pyramid through dint of their hard work. They have overcome limitations of resources and a terrible atmosphere of despair around them and forged ahead, he said.
He asked people to read about the awardees. "The extraordinary stories of their lives, will inspire the society in the true spirit," he said.
Modi also referred to the Gaganyaan Mission that aims to take an Indian to space by 2022. He said the country has taken another step towards the goal.
"In 2022, we will be celebrating 75 years of Independence. And on that occasion, we have to fulfill the pledge to take an Indian into space through the Gaganyaan Mission. It will be a historic achievement in the field of science and technology for India in the 21st century. It will prove to be a milestone for new India," he said.
He said four candidates, all pilots of the Indian Air Force, have been already selected as astronauts.
"These promising youngsters symbolise India's skill, talent, ability, courage and dreams. Our four friends are about to go to Russia in a few days for their training. I am confident that this would script another golden chapter in India-Russia friendship and cooperation," he said.
He also urged people to share stories, photos and videos of endeavours of water conservation and water harvesting undertaken by them or those around them using #Jalshakti4India.