Saturday, 12 January 2008

Bharat Ratna: Do Vajpayee, Kashi Ram, Jyoti Basu deserve it?

Recall the name of CV Raman, one of the first Indians to get the Bharat Ratna. Or the great engineer Mokshagundam Visvesvarayya. And then think of Kashi Ram, Vajpayee and Jyoti Basu, the three personalities for whom demands for the highest civilian award in India has been raised.

No. I am not belittling the contribution of politicians. But I am sure this nation is not so devoid of great personalities that we ought to think of politicians alone when it comes to the Bharat Ratna. It was during the era of Indira Gandhi that the devaluation of the award began when K Kamraj was conferred the Bharat Ratna.

For garnering votes, regional satraps were awarded. And the situation came to such a passe that Bharat Ratna seemed to have lost its real value. Mercifully no award was given for the last seven years and the prestige of this award has been restored to an extent.

Atal Bihari Vajpayee: The most acceptable face of Sangh Parivar and BJP but notorious for his flip-flops. His role in Indepence movement was controversial especially the confessional statement before the magistrate that 'he didn't participate in the struggle' during the Quit India movement. He had allegedly become approver against freedom fighters and as a result, Kakua alias Liladhar was convicted and jailed. In later years of his career and during his tenure as Prime Minister, his stature increased considerably but he failed to take a proper stand on Gujarat riots and Narendra Modi.

Kashi Ram: The founder of BAMCEF created a social change in the most populous state of India, Uttar Pradesh. The daughte of a Dalit, Mayawati, became the chief minister of the State thrice. His contribution from the Dalit point of view is astonishing. But he did little to awaken the Dalit consciousness or create any change in their educational sitatution. He remained focused on attaining political power. Falls way short of Dr BR Ambedkar or Periyar.

Jyoti Basu: The Communist patriarch ruled West Bengal for a quarter century. It was during his reign that West Bengal became a rare state to be ruled by a non-Congress government for successive decades. His role in the empowerment of peasants and holding land reforms is unique. Still, he remained restricted in WB though he had come close to becoming the Prime Minister of India.

Now about Tata

In a nation starved of heroes, Ratan Naval Tata stands out as the odd-'bania' loved and admired for his commitment to the nation and social concern. He promised us a car for Rs 1 lakh. And he delivered. He could have gone back on his words or simply pushed the price up to Rs 1.5 lakh. Even then it would have been a success. But he took the risk, defied the existing rules of business and ignored the lure of huge profits, to come out with the car.

For all these years, hundreds of Tata workers and engineers were working on this car, nobody could get an exact idea abouts its make until it came out in the market. That's the sort of respect he gets from his workers and also, the rest. For his commitment to business without dirty tricks. The Rs 1 lakh car has stunned the world. Can the Ambanis ever get this level of respect?

In 60 years, Indian Republic has given Bharat Ratna to 40 personalities. This list included names of great personalities like:

Subhas Chandra Bose, BR Ambedkar, Pandit Nehru, Maulana Azad, Vallabh Bhai Patel, DK Karve
Zakir Husain, Nelson Mandela, Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, Vinoba Bhave, APJ Abdul Kalam,

Amartya Sen and in peforming arts Ravi Shankar, Bismillah Khan, Subbalakshami and Lata Mangeshkar.

Also, JRD Tata was given Bharat Ratna in his life time. India may not give Ratan Tata the award. Think of Baba Amte, the face of poor India's resistance Medha Patkar or someone who inspires the millions. Surely the politicians of this era don't deserve it. No way.

Popular Posts