"You are crucial for providing medical care. Nursing is not only a profession and a career, it is also a service to humanity," the president said on International Nurses' Day.

She said that though India had achieved success in increasing life expectancy and eradicating several endemic diseases, more needed to be done.

She also exhorted more men to take up nursing.

In the awardees were 22 nurses, 11 auxiliary nurse midwives and three lady health visitors. They received Rs.50,000 in cash, a certificate and a medal.

"This award is a rare honour in recognition of their (nurses') selfless hard work, commitment and extraordinary perseverance in the performance of their duties," Health Minister Gulam Nabi Azad said.