The list went too long for the Bharat Ratna this year after Sri Advani initiated a letter to clear his debt by not being benevolent but by being a seasoned politician.
The queue had Ilaiyaraja, Anna Hazare, Bhagat Singh, Dhirubhai Ambani, Dalai lama, Jyoti Basu,M.F Hussain, Mayawati, Mulam Singh Yadav, Sachin Tendulkar, Ratan Tata, Karunanidhi, Charan Cingh, Laxmi Mittal, Narayan Murty, Kanshi ram, Amritya sen, Simranjeet Singh Maan, Jyoti Basu (later the CPM rejected the proposal), Biju Patnaik, Mulayam Singh Yadav, Chawdhury Charan Singh, Mahatma Phule, Babu Jagjivan Ram, M Karunanidhi, former Prime Minister Chander Shekhar, Kapoori Thakur, social reformer Jyotibha Phule, playback singer Mohammad Rafi, Ratan Tata, Mata Amritanandamayi etc etc perhaps the most bizarre of all, the deputy speaker of the Delhi assembly, Shoaib Iqbal proposed the name of Bahadur Shah Zafar.
It’s the seventh year but the only year, which had violent flow for the highest award, politicised. Deferment was the ideal solution. The shrewd BJP politician gave birth to the idea and the controversy. Every one in the country knows Atal ji as a stalwart and no one defy his sincerity, dedication and matchless service to the nation. The highest civilian award was knocked down mercilessly by ugly politics testifying the sheer narrow-mindedness and prejudice on the part of the powers that be.
On January 2, 1954, the government of India instituted four civilian awards, viz, Padma Shri, Padma Bhushan, Padma Vibhushan and the highest of them all, the Bharat Ratna. in its inaugural year, Bharat Ratna was conferred on three individuals, viz, Sarvepalli Radha Krishan, CV Raman and C Rajagopalachari. In 1977, during Morarji Desai’s regime, it was discontinued because the government felt the award had become irrelevant owing to politicisation of the honour. After three years, when Indira Gandhi became the Prime Minister again, the Bharat Ratna was restored. It was conferred on Mother Teresa (Mary Taresa Bojaxhiu) for her unmatched service to lepers.
Till date, forty individuals (see chart) have been honoured with the prestigious award; it includes five Prime Ministers, viz, Pandit JL Nehru, Lal Bahadur Shashtri, Indira Gandhi, Morarji Desai and Rajeev Gandhi. Among them, four belonged to Congress and one, viz, Morarji Desai, hailed from a non-Congress party. Indira Gandhi was the first woman recipient of the award. In 2001, it was jointly conferred on Lata Mangeshkar and Ustad Bismillah Khan. The Vajpayee government was in power then.
Today the top honour has given rise to bitter political controversies. Gauzing the UPA government’s mood the shrewd Shri Advani played his deal first and showed the present faction in politics. Political sycophancy became the criterion for this prestigious award. Clamour for such awards is a not a new phenomenon but surprisingly this year, it became louder than ever before and sticky.
India, being a country of a billion people, has not produced even a single Bharat Ratna in the past six years. This is the seventh year in a row that no one has been named for the award. Politicians for securing the Bharat Ratna for their heroes - alive or dead - has revealed how segmented the Indian polity has become. Virtually the entire political class is seeing the award of caste or community or party, demonstrating that partisan considerations alone matter to it even when recommending a supposed stalwart of national stature.
There is little doubt that a sad spectacle such as the present one over this most prestigious of national awards would have been unimaginable in the early decades of the post-Independence period. Narrow codes dominate the scene primarily because of divisive politics based on casteist and communal campaigns. Arrogant to the hilt they don't see anything beyond counting notes and votes and keep preparing for the next fraud in elections.
So in today's cynical world the nation is evidently divided into the groups to which each of them belongs as demonstrated by the nations National political parties. The narrowness of outlook is evident. The politicians are crushing the very essence of democracy we imagine. They made a mock of the national interest. Every party was pushing their own partisan agendas, whether it is the anti-Americanism of the Left, or the caste- or region-based preoccupations of the parties confined mainly to single provinces, like the RJD or the DMK or the Akali Dal. What is worrisome is their restricted vision; this was witnessed as few openly adopted an anti-national stance involving other countries as well.
This boisterous show underlines the dearth of leaders but not the dearth of businessman. The dearth is explained by the antics of politicians over the award this year.
What if the Bharat Ratan solely be given to our jawans who safeguard our country who lives and dies for the nation, for all of us. It is the “jawan” who defends and obeys the Constitution in the most impressive and exemplary manner. He stands out as an undiluted wholesome Indian spirit and an invincible symbol of patriotism.