The buzz is all about Mr. Modi’s first Independence Day speech at the the iconic Red Fort in Delhi as the fourteenth Prime Minister of India. The modified nation is anticipating some announcements from the magician who scripted a historic win three months ago. Mr. Modi has chosen to keep quiet amidst all the controversies surrounding the new government. Among various announcements it is expected that the government might as well announce the Bharat Ratna awardees.
The prestigious Bharat Ratna, the highest civilian honour is conferred by Government of India to recognize the exceptional service of its acclaimed nationals. In the recent history, more often than not, the esteemed award has often be perceived as a medium to appease a particular group or society. In a democracy where the politicians and the voter have a quid pro quo relationship , certain issues or awards are seldom spared.
The Indian hockey wizard Dhyan Chand and freedom fighter Subhash Chandra Bose have been dragged into controversy over Bharat Ratna years after their death. The death of Netaji Bose is itself a huge controversy, as a faction ridiculously thinks that he is still alive and should not be awarded the national honour ‘posthumously‘ . Various questionable chauvinists and supposedly sports enthusiasts have clamoured that Dhyan Chand be awarded Bharat Ratna a quarter century after his death. No one even a bit can question his merit but why politicize it. It has been a question of who deserved it first- Dhyan Chand or the God himself, Sachin Tendulkar. It is ludicrous to argue that who deserved Bharat Ratna. But Dhyan Chand not getting the award enraged many part-time hockey admirers. One is discussing about a man here who has won India several Olympic gold medals. It is a disrespect to a champion who needs to be marketed to be recognized for the honour.
The controversy catapulted last year on the day Sachin Tendulkar retired from cricket. Within a few hours of his retirement the Indian government announced that he will be conferred with the highest civilian honour. More than the merit of the concerned individual, the timing of the act was questionable. As the country was still mourning the retirement of Sachin Tendulkar, the announcement was largely perceived as a mollifying act by the government.
It is a pity that in a country of over a billion people, such issues are politicized and has wasted the time and energy of many individuals (including mine) protesting on the streets and debating on news channels over a trivial issue. We Indians make the world wonder how are some of the people from our own community doing so well in the world. It is of least importance to debate whether a man should be honoured or not after his death. There have been many such worthy individuals who have sacrificed their lives for the nation’s service and yet have not been recognized with the honour. Veer Savarkar, Vinoba Bhave, Lokmanya Tilak, Sarojini Naidu, Homi Bhabha, Vikram Sarabhai are few noteworthy examples of acclaimed individuals who have not yet been and will not be in future be awarded the honour. It is equally bemusing how Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi received the honour when they served as the Prime Ministers of this nation. Ironically, Morarji Desai, former Indian Prime Minister was awarded Bharat Ratna posthumously, although he himself was the strongest critic of the honour .
Bharat Ratna, an honour conferred upon highly revered individuals of this nation, has lost its own reverence. The opportunists have always managed to politicize the issue and gain the support of the masses. Every new government has made the award, a medium of appeasement. No one can and should ever doubt the merit of the recipients, but the constant controversy surrounding the honour have really puzzled many Indians whether the award is Bharat Ratna or Bharat Sarkar Ratna.