A news leaked out saying the Government asked RBI mint to make five Bharat Ratna Medals. Even though the legal mandate is a maximum of three per year, many names cropped up – Subhas Bose, Vajpayee, Madan Mohan Malaviya, Kanshi Ram and what not. The press caught up with this and we are seeing very colourful debates over this. BJP asks who finalized the list without BJP knowing it, while many prominent came up with their own wishlist, ranging from Bhagat Singh, Rajguru, Sukhdev, Lala Lajpat Rai, Bhupen Hazarika from Congress, Ram Manohar Lohia and Karpoori Thakur from the non BJP Janata Party Experiment, Birsa Munda and Savarkar by someone else and what not. This is one side of the argument. On the other side, is the question of Netaji. His daughter declined to accept the award granted to her father a decade ago since the government did not declare him officially dead. Trinamool, Forward Bloc and other parties of the Bengal belt saying he is way above Bharat Ratna.
For the press and political apparatus, everything is a matter of discussion. Below are the main questions posed today –
1. Is it right for Congress Prime Ministers to recommend Bharat Ratna for themselves, how great their service to the nation may be?
2. Does Gulzarilal Nanda deserve it more than Ambedkar? I don’t get into the merits of the case, but the basic question here is, is it worth comparing two persons of eminence?
3. Patel was awarded in 1991, which in itself proves it’s a political decision
And many opinions.
In light of this, there are a few points worth noting –
1. There are many persons who were missed out. How exalted he may be and how esteemed he is in popular view(like Subhas Bose or Vivekananda or Sardar Patel), does it make any difference if an award is declared in recognition of a person long deceased?
2. Can’t we institute two different awards, one for the deceased and one for those alive? Take the Nobel as analogy, how twisted it may be. How many deceased are awarded the prize?
3. Should there be a cut off as to the time limit an award can be given after the death of a person be given Bharat Ratna? It’s better to leave people like Bhagat Singh or Subhas Bose in happy memory than raking up their names for the sake of a public discussion.
4. Should the head of India or a Province should be awarded Bharat Ratna? There are two arguments I can present – the selection of these is political leaving many a heart burn and that there will always be omissions, especially if they are on the wrong side. Citing specific examples, Gopinath Bardoloi is granted for handling partition in an exceptional manner. Jyoti Basu or Gegong Apong or Pawan Chamling are not given even if they ruled their states for more than two decades(trust reposed by people is not considered in these cases). Indira won India a war. So did Vajpayee. And PV ensured that India didnot crumble economically. It’s better not to get into this sort of discussion once and for all.
5. Indian Union came into force de facto on 15 Aug 1947 and de jure on 26 Jan 1950. Should India award a person who deceased before this date? Not to belittle, if Birsa Munda is to be awarded, why not Velu Thampi Dalawai or Surendra Sai or even, Rana Pratap? All of them did the same thing…