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  Asia-Pacific
'Bharat Ratna' in the Political Whirl
By Tanveer Jafri
Contributing Writer
"Bharat Ratna" award

The highest civilian award in India, "Bharat Ratna," (Jewel of India) usually given on the Republic Day was not awarded to any person, this year. The so said argument for not announcing "Bharat Ratna" award this year, is being said that the selection committee that decides it found nobody who deserved this award so the award couldn't be given to any person. But some people are of the view that the queue of the claimants became so large that the selection among them became difficult. Perhaps it was the first time when many channels of TV asked the suggestions of the views about the person who should get the `Bharat Ratna` Award. Because of the controversial claim by some political parties, for the Bharat Ratna Award, this time too it became a game of politics as it had been.

The start of giving this award was done on January 2, 1953 by the first President of India, Dr. Rajendra Prasad. At the same time, three other national awards,' Padam Vibhushan, Padam Bhushan & Padam Shri were announced. There was no limit of being Indian or non-Indian or any geographical boundary for these awards. By now, Bharat Ratna Award has been given to 40 famous persons from India & abroad. Among them two citizens are of foreign origin. The foreigners who got this award are President of South Africa, Nelson Mandela & Mother Teresa of Albania origin. Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan was given this award who was well wisher of India & an old freedom fighter while he lived in newly established country Pakistan & not in India.

Some of the fortunate persons who have got this award are given respect by the entire nation. Some of the personalities have won respect even at international level. Among these Bharat Ratna's the names are Sarvapalli Radhakrishanan, Chakravarti Rjgopalachari, C.V. Raman, Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru, Gobind Vallabh Pant, P.D. Tandon, Dr. Rajendra Prasad, Dr. Zakir Husain, Lal Bahadur Shastri, Indira Gandhi, K kamraj, Aacharya Vishnu Bhave, B.R. Ambedkar, Rajiv Gandhi, Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel, Maulana Abdul Kalam Azad, JRD Tata, Satyajit Ray, Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, Gulzari Lal Nanda, Aruna Asif Ali, Jai Prakash Narayan, Pt. Ravi Shankar, Amartya Sen, Lata Mangeshkar & Bismillah Khan. Besides these, Bharat Ratn has been awarded to Bhagwan Das, Sir Mokshagundam Vishvesvaraiya, Dhondo Keshav Karve, Dr. VE Rai, Pandurang Vamanke, VV Giri, MG Ramachandran, Morarji Desai, MS Subbalakshmi, & Gopinath Bardolei.

Some of the above persons were awarded Bharat Ratn award posthumously. It is also clear from it that there is no limit of life or death for the persons who get this award. Now the question arises why Mahatma Gandhi hasn't been given Bharat Ratn Award. Did Bhagat Singh, Chandrasekhar Azad, Sukhdev, Rajguru, Ashfaqullah like persons who fought for the freedom of the country, not deserve for Bharat Ratn award in the eyes of selection committee. Does it not behoove to award Bharat Ratn to the great freedom fighter Subhash Chandra Bose? Now instead of these great sons of India, if we have an eye on those leaders or claimants of Bharat Ratna award, people can be seen claiming the name of Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Somewhere there is politics of votes telling Kanshiram as the proper claimant for the Bharat Ratna award. Somewhere the leader of the Indian farmers Chaudhary Charan Singh is being said as the proper person. And the leaders of socialist thought are demanding Bharat Ratna award for the socialist leader & great freedom fighter Aacharya Narendra Dev. I fail to understand why not the socialists ask this award of respect for Dr. Ram Manohar Lohiya as being done for Aacharya Narendra Dev.

Undoubtedly, the politics is covering the embellishment of Bharat Ratna award jewel. Under such controversial circumstances, the worthy Supreme Court postponed the award of Bharat Ratna from July 13, 1977 to January 26, 1980 in its order on public interest litigation. Again game of politics started this year on the award of Bharat Ratna when the opposition party in the country, Bhartiya Janta Party demanded the award of Bharat Ratna to the former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. It is for the first time in Indian history that a political party announced the name of claimant of Bharat Ratna award before the media. After this step of BJP, there came a long queue as the claimants of Bharat Ratna. Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh Mayawati said that Kanshiram is the most proper claimant of Bharat Ratna award. Former union Minister Chaudhary Ajit Singh didn't miss the opportunity to claim Bharat Ratna for the former Prime Minister & his father Chaudhary Charan Singh. Similarly the Samajvadi leader Mulayam Singh proposed the name of Aacharya Narendra Dev.

Anyhow the proposers & claimant leaders of Bharat Ratna award may say whatever they like in their favour but it is not necessary that their arguments are confirmed by the selection committee. For example, undoubtedly Atal Bihari Vajpayee has got a name in the Indian politics for five decades & he has shown himself a man of caliber in politics. No gift can be better than this award at the time of the respectable retirement from the political life. But the critics of Vajpayee count Kargil event, the terrorist attack on the parliament, Kandhar airplane hijack event & to send some hardcore terrorists from Delhi to Kandhar & Gujarat riots under his rule go to his discredit. At such a time how the Bharat Ratna award can be put in a balance for him. Such different circumstances may arise with the name of Kanshiram & Chaudhary Charan Singh also. It means that the award like Bharat Ratna should be given to the person who has no blot on him. There should be no critic of him. He must be shining as an attractive 'Jewel of India' because of his unmatched personality. But it is a matter of sorrow that perhaps such a person can't be found in political field of this country that is free from any blot. The main reason is fast changing thoughts at the different levels of the society & because of this change, there is also a blot making the award of Bharat Ratna unclean.

Obviously when the political parties & political persons will go on round & round the Bharat Ratna award, then this award will become the property of politics. So it is also compulsory for the media to become active. Now there is a question if there is difference of opinion on the name of Vajpayee & other leaders, there is no such difference on the name of Sachin Tendulkar. There can be a controversy on the name of Kanshiram but not on the name of Ratan Tata. Similarly there can be objections on the name of Chaudhary Charan Singh but not on the name of Noble Award winner RK Pachauri. So, this year same names came out by media for the award of Bharat Ratna that in fact undoubtedly touch the heart without any controversy.

During these circumstances the Bharat Ratna selection committee must not waste its time upon the last decisions. It should come forward to give this award to the first class persons as Subhash Chandra Bose, Mahatma Gandhi etc. there should be a try to setup the high status of this award once again. If it is not so the shining of Bharat Ratna will go on decreasing day by day & at the same time, it will find itself trapped in the political whirl. Therefore the need arises that there must be high measuring rods to setup this high citizen award.



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Mr.Tanveer Jafri, who serves as contributing writer for The Seoul Times, is a noted columnist in India. He writes on a variety of issues including world peace, anti-terrorism, and national & international politics for numerous news dailies and portals in India. As a devoted social activist he is a member of Haryana Sahitya Academy & Haryana Urdu Academy.

 

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