And the Bharat Ratna doesn’t go to...
But it’s the additional criterion of “recognition of public service of the highest order” — a rather subjective matter that leaves the door open to practically anyone who leads or led a public life.Updated: Jan 14, 2008 20:32 IST
Ok, so the Samajwadi Party now wants Mulayam Singh Yadav to get the Bharat Ratna. Nothing wrong with that. After all, if the Rashtriya Lok Dal can want the late Prime Minister Chaudhury Charan Singh to get India’s highest civilian award, if the Bharatiya Bhojpuri Samaj wants the late PM Chandrashekhar to get it, if L.K. Advani wants A.B. Vajpayee to get it, and if our parents want us to get the peepul leaf award one day, perhaps Mr Yadav does deserve to take a shot at it.
The Bharat Ratna is conferred “for the highest degrees of national service”. This service includes artistic, literary and scientific achievements. But it’s the additional criterion of “recognition of public service of the highest order” — a rather subjective matter that leaves the door open to practically anyone who leads or led a public life — that has allowed politicians to throw their pagris into the ring. That’s something that the communists find unsavoury while arguing why CPI(M) patriarch Jyoti Basu shouldn’t be given the award. (Another Himalayan blunder, Mr Basu?) As for conferring the great award to those who have passed on, announcing posthumous winners hadn’t become the trend until much after the establishment of the Bharat Ratna in 1954. Since then, there have been nine posthumous awards, that is if you don’t count the one given to Subhas Chandra Bose in 1992 and then subsequently withdrawn as Netaji’s death has still not been established.
But along with the living and the not-too-long-ago-departed, there’s another aspirant who might have considered himself too old for the award. But the Delhi assembly Deputy Speaker Shoaib Iqbal has all the right to demand that the last Mughal emperor, Bahadur Shah Zafar, be conferred the honour posthumously, so what if he died in 1862. While Mahatma Gandhi may not need a Bharat Ratna as he is a bit overqualified, how about conferring one to Lord Ram? Did someone say that proof of birth is required?