NEW DELHI , Jan. 25 (UPI) -- Tennis star Sania Mirza, badminton's Saina Nehwal and actor Aunpam Kher are among recipients of the Padma Bhushan, India's distinguished service award.
The distinction conferred by the Indian Ministry of Home Affairs, the country's third-highest civilian honor, is announced annually on the nation's Republic Day, with ceremonies typically held in March or April at Rashtrapati Bhavan, the president's residence.
Mirza, ranked second on the Women's Tennis Association list of top doubles players, is currently competing at the Australian Open with playing partner Martina Hingis. Nehwal, second in the women's singles rankings by the Badminton World Federation, will represent India in the Summer Olympics.
Veteran actor Kher, 60, told India Express.com he was humbled by the honor.
"I am thankful to our country and people. ... This is the best news of my life. In my 31 years of career in cinema, spanning more than 500 films and 150 plays, I think this award reaffirms your faith that hard work and honesty always pays. I also feel also a sense of responsibility towards my country because when you are honored like this it is your duty to deal with responsibility in a different manner," he said.