Writing is like T20 batting. If you block, you might as well retire to the pavilion! -- Pete Langman
Expat in Germany

Sunday, November 24, 2013

BharatRatna is a what?!!?

"Sachin Tendulkar is the first sportsperson to be awarded the Bharatratna(Gem of India)." What a lame statement? It is only recently that sports were included in the required fields for eligibility for the Bharatratna. How right is it to call him the first sportsperson to be given the Bharatratna?! Does that mean that if sports were included long ago,  there is no one eligible enough to bag the award? While this is one point, the other is that is he the correct sportsperson to be awarded the highest civilian award in the country.

It is a very common argument that happens when only one person in a respective field is awarded with a great honour. Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar in the field of Sports and Dr.Chintamani Nagesa Ramachandra Rao in the field of Science were nominated for the award. Sachin is the first sportsperson after a change in the eligibility conditions to be given this award and C.N.R.Rao is only the third scientist to win the award (they were eligible for a long time!!) Speculations occur in such awarding. There might be other people who might have done better in than the above two. But no one brought name to their field than them. That makes them eligible, doesn't it?

The eligibility criteria for awarding Bharatratna are "for the highest degree of national service." This service until recently included artistic, literary, scientific achievements and public service. Even in arts, only seven people were awarded the Bharatratna again neglecting many other eminent persons. But there is no 'Sangeetaratna' or something like that as the highest award for an artist. But for sports, there is "Khelratna." So why award the Bharatratna to a sportsperson?

Now, India is moving from the generation after Independence. Out of the 43 people given the award, around 20 people were independence activists. So, no one had an objection to that. From Jawaharlal Nehru to Rajiv Gandhi, all the Gandhi-Nehru family members who became the Prime Ministers got the award. No one objects for that. Tomorrow their successor might be awarded. No on will object!! Weird reasons were quoted for not conferring the award to Subhas Chandra Bose posthumously. No one cared! Give it to one sportsperson who has excelled, we complain. He might not have participated in the freedom movement (C.N.R.Rao did, by the way!!) But where do independence activists come from now? It has to be given to people who bring a lot of name and fame to the country as that is the present need of the hour.

Whether the chosen people are real eligible ones or not, I say that they are merely representing their community. The sporting community. The scientific community. The arts community. So on. Of course, to maintain the dignity of the award, it cannot be given to everybody. But then, it can be awarded to the "face" of the respective fields. The person is just a mask. It is to the community that the award is being given thus reminding ourselves of our vast potential in various boundaries thus encouraging more people to go and get the name for the country!!!