It may sound offending to the more patriotic ones, or strange the least, that ‘Bharat’ has gone devoid of its ‘Ratnas’. India has not awarded its highest civilian award ‘Bharat Ratna’ for seven years out of ten in the previous decade. Does that imply we have too many or too little of nationals doing the ‘highest degree of national service’ in this nation that constitutes 17% of world’s population, or does that talk of the politics and bureaucracy that has even found its way in eroding the process of this award of highest esteem?
Let me come to the point I consider more important —your opinion about the criteria of awarding ‘Bharat Ratna’. What is meant by ‘highest degree of national service’ — a service to the nation that has affected the lives of millions of citizens of this country or has improved our nation’s standing significantly in international perspective or something else? 15 out of 41 awardees till date have been independence activists or freedom fighters – does that give a clue? OK, let me pick some of the awardees. To begin with – our previous President Dr. A P J Abdul Kalam- what has he done that has satisfied any of the criteria mentioned above? It is he who has made this country come in the league of nuclear nations and a future superpower. So what? It is he who has developed space rocket technology for India and has provided Indian defense with the ballistic missiles. How does that help the common man? It is a country’s security that is a prerequisite for its integrity and progress- social, economic, scientific, industrial etc. So, are you convinced he deserves to be ‘Bharat Ratna’? Hopefully, yes. What has Dr. Amartya Sen done? Do you remember the name of Nobel Laureate 2000 in Economics? M S Subbulaxmi, Mother Teresa, Pt. Nehru, J R D Tata, Dr. Ambedkar — I’m sure we have enough reason to believe they being awarded ‘Bharat Ratna’.
Now kindly list me some names you consider worthy of being awarded ‘Bharat Ratna’- anyone except Sachin Tendulkar please. Amitabh Bacchan? Dr. Manmohan Singh? Jagjit Singh? Mayawati? Can you name one scientist- any one name, or you believe this category doesn’t fit at all? Have you heard of something by the name of ‘Green Revolution’? Had that not happened, half of us would have starved to death- our country would never have been self sufficient in grain production, and Indian economy must have not gained its base — agriculture. I’m talking of Dr. M S Swaminathan — Father of Green Revolution — a name we studied and threw in oblivion in our middle school. How many of you know India is the largest producer of milk and milk products in the world? It happened because of White Revolution in our country that alleviated poverty and famine from its dangerous proportions in that time. Should we consider the Milkman of India, 1989 World Food Prize Laureate Dr. Verghese Kurein, for the award? I can say that with conviction that if Sachin Tendulkar deserves it, these two deserve it before him, and hence some other aware citizen of the country shall add more names to the list, and I’m sure there are many more names- another one which just strikes me is Mr. Narayan Murthy, the Father of Indian IT Revolution.
What I am trying to point out here is the abysmally low level of awareness of such matters of national esteem and the pride we take in them. It is our duty to acknowledge the services made by individuals that have transformed India and made its head held high in a global perspective. Do we need to probe into why no ‘Bharat Ratna’ has been awarded for a long time despite of such individuals lined up that have given each Indian the power to dream high? I agree that still 51% of children in our country are malnourished, 42% of our population lives below international poverty line, we rank below 125 out of 190 countries considered for Human Developed Index by the United Nations, but unless we take pride in our achievements- be that science and technology, arts, industry, commerce etc., we can’t unleash the fire within the youth of this nation to contribute to its growth with its full potential, and each youth of this youngest country (average age of citizens) should no longer be contended with his/her mediocrity, but strive for excellence, and help ‘The Golden Eagle’ soar the heights it once kissed. Be proud of being an Indian and make India proud for you!
The writer is a correspondent of Youth Ki Awaaz. A student of IIT-Kanpur, Mohit specialises in science and technology analysis.