External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, cricket star Sachin Tendulkar and melody queen Asha Bhosle were among the celebrity recipients of the Padma Vibhushan from President Pratibha Patil on Monday for their outstanding contribution in their respective fields.
Infosys chief mentor N R Narayan Murthy and renowned hotelier P R S Oberoi were also conferred with the award.
The first man to step on the world's highest peak, Mount Everest, Sir Edmund Hillary was conferred the Padma Vibhushan posthumously.
Noted author Dominique Lapierre, teacher Shyama Chona and classical musician Ustad Rahim Fahimuddin Khan Dagar received the Padma Bhushan, while FICCI Secretary General Amit Mitra, sportsperson Bula Chowdhury and journalists Vinod Dua and Rajdeep Sardesai were presented with the Padma Shri.
Mukherjee is the first ever serving Cabinet minister to get a Padma award.
The best round of applause was reserved for Tendulkar as he went up to collect his award from the President.
Ignoring the clamour for Bharat Ratna triggered by Bharatiya Janata Party leader Lal Kishenchand Advani's letter to the Prime Minister proposing Atal Bihari Vajpayee's name, the government decided against naming anyone for the award for the seventh consecutive year this time.
The Bharat Ratna was last given in 2001 to Lata Mangeshkar and Ustad Bismillah Khan.
Vice President Hamid Ansari, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, United Progressive Alliance chairperson Sonia Gandhi and other Cabinet ministers were present on the occasion.