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Prof K S Manilal among the Padma awardees of 2020 under Science and Engineering

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Prof K S Manilal among the Padma awardees of 2020 under Science and Engineering

Among the illustrious list of Padma awardees for 2020 declared on the eve of Republic Day, the Government of India has announced Padma Shri to Prof Kattungal Subramaniam Manilal under Science and Engineering discipline. He is among the eight of 118 Padma Shri awardees under this discipline.

Padma Awards are one of the highest civilian Awards in India. The Awards are given in various disciplines spanning the fields of art, social work, public affairs, science and engineering, trade and industry, medicine, literature and education, sports and civil service. ‘Padma Vibhushan’ is awarded for exceptional and distinguished service; ‘Padma Bhushan’ for distinguished service of a high order and ‘Padma Shri’ for distinguished service in any field. Among the 7 Padma Vibhushan, 16 Padma Bhushan and 118 Padma Shri Awards that the President of Indian approved this year, only 33 have been awarded to women.

Prof K. S. Manilal is a botanist and taxonomist, best known for his research, translation, and annotation of Hendrik van Rheede’s 17th century Latin botanical treatise, Hortus Malabaricus. The document extensively details the biodiversity and medicinal properties of over 700 indigenous plants in the Malabar region of Kerala.

Before Manilal’s translation of this enormous 12 volume document into English and Malayalam, most of the information in this Latin treatise had largely remained inaccessible to the world. Manilal also authored 198 published research papers and 15 books on taxonomy and botany, of which a significant proportion was devoted to discussing the medico-botanical aspects, or the historical, socio-political and linguistic significance of Hortus Malabaricus.

Along with his students, Manilal has discovered around 14 species of flowering plants and recorded the existence of nearly 1,000 flowering plant species, including some like the Malabar Daffodil, which was previously thought to be extinct. Currently, he is an Emeritus Professor of botany at Calicut University, Kerala. He is also credited for establishing the Indian Association for Angiosperm Taxonomy.

Earlier, Prof K S Manilal was featured under Ek Pradarshini - The Best of Indian Science exhibits during the Nobel Prize Series - India 2018 held at Goa. The National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS) at Bengaluru had also held an exhibition of Hortus Malabaricus in 2008.