WHO DESERVES THE AWARD
Bharat Ratna, which means, the Jewel / Gem of India - is India's highest civilian award, for the highest degree of national service. This service includes artistic, literary, and scientific achievements, as well as "recognition of public service of the highest order." In 2011, the Government of India has also agreed to change the eligibility criteria to allow sportspersons to receive the award.
This latest change seems to be – taking into consideration the achievements of Sachin Tendulkar in Cricket. Tendulkar is undoubtedly, India’s and the world’s Best cricketer. A good and lovable Individual who is free from the usual controversies that sportsmen get into, Sachin is fit for receiving any award that a world class sports person must get. I particularly like his statement, I am an Indian first – because, even most politicians in public life in India do not say that today. Identification with their own state, community, religion or language - is making our Politicians – less than staunch nationalist Indians at heart. We see many of them actually emitting hatred towards people of other states/communities/ religions / languages. In that context, Sachin’s statement and his conduct are certainly exemplary.
Inclusiveness and strong nationalist spirit have to be searched for, with a beacon light in India today. In such a context, Sachin comes out as a refreshing Contrast.
Yet, in my strong opinion, a Bharat Ratna is a little premature for Sachin. He played well in cricket; surpassed most masters; endeared himself to all cricketers; and by and all large, all cricketing legends accept him as the greatest ever Cricketer. That said, it is also to be admitted that Cricket rewarded him very richly already in terms of money, name, fame and everything that a sportsman could wish for. But, his service to Nation, or even his lasting service to cricket is yet to come in future. It will; but, India can wait a little more to award him Bharat Ratna.
Bharat Ratna – as we have already seen, is for the highest degree of national service or public service of the highest order.
But, India is completely IGNORING to reward its Great People who are doing exemplary “"public service of the highest order."Sports, arts, music, dance etc should come next. Public service of the Highest order should come first.
The trouble in India seems to be that – Government and Politicians are coming in conflict with many of the people who are doing the highest degree of national service and public service of the Highest order. So, on this ground, many of these illustrious sons of India are not even considered for this Highest award.
Annaji, Swami Ramdev etc – belong to this category. Annaji is a tireless crusader against Corruption. It would be wrong for the Government or the Parties in power to assume that he is against them. He is against Corruption. Had the Lok Pal Bill been passed with a little more enthusiasm by Government, his opposition to Government would have evaporated.
Swami Ram Dev’s greatest contribution is in promoting Health consciousness through Yog and Ayurved among the most common people of all castes and religions. The prayers at his Yog Sibirs are perfectly religion-neutral. Diseases which are declared as incurable in Allopathy are in fact made curable through Ayurved and Yog – by Swami Ramdev. His method of teaching both these sciences is highly effective. I have personally taken coaching at one of his Sibirs (at Hyderabad) and I am now a regular practitioner of his method of Yog and his method of Ayurved both. I am a personal beneficiary from his medicines and I am sure lakhs (or crores of people) will vouch for their effectiveness, from their personal experience – as I do here. If ensuring the health of so many crores of people is not public service, what else can be? Yes, of course, he does talk of Black money curbing in his own style, sometimes overshooting words. But, Government cannot overlook his extraordinary contribution to the Indian sciences of Yog and Ayurved and the achievement of health of crores of Indians of all religions, through his methods and medicines.
Some Industrialists like Infosys founder, N.R.Narayana Murthy, Wipro Chairman, Azim Premzi, have done extraordinary service to India by lifting the life standards of their employees to international levels and forcing other employers also to do likewise. But for NRN, the salary levels of Software Engineers would be at around Government salary levels in India. And, the charity work of these Industrialists is commendable. These people have benefitted lakhs of Indians through employment, through charity and so on. Is the Government at all watching their contribution to India? Or, is it stung by some advices that they need to give some times to the Government?
There are some Yoga Gurus – chiefly Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev and Sri Sri Ravishankar whose tireless service to India and the world at large is immensely benefitting Crores of people. Sadhguru Jaggi’s contribution to the spread of Yog and spirituality especially in Tamilnadu is extraordinary. It is absolutely wrong for Politicians to assume that spirituality connotes religion. It does not. Spirituality’s sole focus is on the Individual and knowing oneself. Only Indian religions like Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism have spread this science. It is true. But, knowing the self – is an absolute, fantastic science. It is not a religious contribution at all. You don’t go to a heaven or hell by knowing yourself. But, you become the most joyous Individual. Unfortunately, in India, where this science was born millennia ago, India’s own Politicians and even Media is almost totally ignorant about Yog and spirituality.
Jaggi Vasudev and Ravishankar also are totally RELIGION-NEUTRAL. Anybody can go to them FREELY. In fact, both these Giants are already at work in many foreign countries with great success. Sadhguru Jaggis’ contribution in the afforestation and planting of trees in Tamilnadu has been commendable and has invited applause from all quarters including Government of India. His organization is also with UNO in an advisory capacity.
Sri Sri Ravishankar emphasizes service to people – to all his disciples and followers. They have done yeoman service to suffering people at all times. Ravishankarji recently visited Pakistan – met various people and strove to bring the people on both sides into friendly embrace. Many in Pakistan showered praise on him for his extraordinary initiative, which none else is able to do, in current times, including the two Governments. He has also established schools in Naxalite infected areas, to wean away young Boys and Girls from this dangerous movement. Yes, it is true, that he also talks against Corruption in India. But, Government and other Politicians must see that this ANTI-CORRUPTION MOVEMENT is actually a service to India, not anything against Governments. I only wish that the Government had entrusted the task to these eminent people to bring about a commonly and mutually acceptable law on corruption, after discussions with various Political Parties. Government must be on their side – not against them.
We should not see religion as a bar for this honour to be conferred on such people. In any case, we have given Bharat Ratna to Mother Theresa, for her great service to the Indian poor, though some people, justifiably claim that she was indulging in religious conversions also all the time. Conversions may be there; but Extraordinary service was also there – and Bharat Ratna is well deserved for her.
I have mentioned only a few well known names from Industry and from service to society angles.
Let us look from the side of fine arts, which is one of the first mentioned – after Greatest service to nation.
In earlier years, we find names of illustrious persons like (i) Pandit Bhimsen Gururaj Joshi , Arts : 2008 : Karnataka (ii) Kumari Lata Dinanath Mangeshkar , Arts : 2001 : Maharashtra (iii) Late. Ustad Bismillah Khan, Arts : 2001 : Uttar Pradesh (iv) Pandit Ravi Shankar ; Arts : 1999 : United States and (v) Smt. M.S. Subbulakshmi, Arts : 1998 : Tamil Nadu. These are Great Artists of India and the award to them is richly deserved. They sang beautifully or played beautifully.
Is there someone today doing extraordinary service to Music, deserving a Dadasaheb phalke award or even a Bharat Ratna? In my view, SPB (S.P.Balasubramaniam) has been doing such excellent work in bringing up music in young minds in three southern states (AP, T’Nadu and Karnataka).He has sung in all these languages and several others, and He is the only playback singer in India to have won National Film Awards across four languages. He has won several awards – perhaps the most in south India. His name finds place in Guinness Records.
But, these are not the only reasons for considering him for the highest film / National civilian award. His REALTY PROGRAMME in Telugu,styled “Padutaa, theeyagaa” is an absolute treat for music lovers and musicians both. The way he moulds young minds into music lovers is extraordinary. He says, he is zero in classical music, but, he can find the slightest, absolutely slightest mistakes in the participants’ singing of classical music too and correct them so marvelously. His encouragement and his suggestions and goading have brought out the most innate skills in many young people. Most people who watch this program agree that this is perhaps the only REALITY PROGRAM in India, which is so close to REALITY. I add, this is the best reality program which tests, teaches and transforms. The service to people involved here is immeasurable and immense. His own songs in all south Indian Languages and Hindi are loved by people of all these languages. His Hindi Language songs, small in number, are yet some of the most popular numbers in North India. Well, if there is to be a Bharat Ratna for Arts, I feel SPB would be the most deserving one for that.
For literary achievements- we are not considering any one at all! It was Prof.Amartya sen who was awarded Bharat Ratna for Literature and Education in 1999. Much earlier to it, it was Dr. Bhagwan Das from UP, who was awarded the honour for Literature & Education in 1955. Prof.Sen’s contribution is basically to Economic literature. So, why are we not having life-changing literature in India which all sections can like. The ancient saying is – literature and arts flourish only if the king protects and promotes them. Government must give greater emphasis to literature than at present.
So, is the case with Scientific Achievements – (i) Dr. Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman , Science & Engineering. : 1954 : Tamil Nadu and (ii) Shri (Dr.) A.P.J. Abdul Kalam , Science & Engineering. : 1997 : Delhi are the only two awardees under this category. Unless we honour men of science for their Great achievements – where will great achievements come from? The point is – is the Government watching the Best scientific contributions happening in India? Say, like Agni Missiles. Like the Agrarian revolution. Or, anything life-changing happening in Indian science laboratories.
The awardees list at present is full of awardees for “public affairs” – people who talk in Parliaments and legislatures. I do not deny that the awardees in this categories are eminently deserving. If we are to think of a likely awardee in Public affairs today - I think, with all his problems in UPA II (first 3 years), Dr. Manmohan Singh is still the best in Public affairs - especially for his contribution in UPA I.The Economic Growth Rate of India, when the rest of world was in troubled waters, was just FANTASTIC. Even today, if only all allies and his own Party men listen to him and follow him - I think, India can solve many of its Policy problems and achieve well in economic front with excellent Growth.
But, I do think, India must now look beyond its Politicians – for Bharat Ratnas, for some time. Specifically, Politicians in Government must create unbiased, fail-safe methods for recognizing service in other areas.
The point of this Article is – all these, which are pointed out in this article, are life-changing achievements, positively affecting lakhs and crores of people. But, these stupendous Efforts may not be as glamourous as those on a Cricket field, which is at best temporary and a good entertainment. Without in anyway downgrading sports, I suggest that India must honour people who are changing the LIVES of lakhs and crores of people first. The names in this article are based on my perception. I have studied these Individuals to a considerable extent – and I think, that they deserve much better recognition by India.
Readers may be able to suggest more names of equally illustrious people serving India. I will be grateful for all readers comments, suggestions and support.
* * * E N D * * *