On 11th March 2019, Grandmaster Harika Dronavalli was conferred with Padma Shri by President Ram Nath Kovind at a special function held at Rashtrapati Bhavan which was attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, and others.
Harika, who has three World Chess Championships bronze medals to her name, became the second Indian woman to become a grandmaster, after Koneru Humpy. She was honored with the Arjuna Award for the year 2007–08 by the government of India. In 2016, Harika won the FIDE Women’s Grand Prix event at Chengdu, China and rose up from world no. 11 to world no. 5 in FIDE women’s ranking.
Five-time World Champion Viswanathan Anand was the first chess player to be honored by the Padma Shri in 1988. Later on, GM Koneru Humpy was bestowed with the award in 2007.
The government conferred Padma awards to 112 people this year — 4 Padma Vibushan, 14 Padma Bhushan and 94 Padma Shri.