The decision of the government to change the rule for eligibility to get Bharata Ratna has stirred a debate and opened the floodgates with demands for Bharata Ratna for various persons. Formerly it was for art, literature, public service and science. Now it is for any field in human endeavour. The change came about because sport was not a category for which Bharata Ratna was given and many people wanted Sachin Tendulkar should get Bharata Ratna.
There are people who feel all national awards should be abolished because they are political. They are few. There are those who say giving Bharata Ratna for sport will devalue Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna which was equivalent to Bharata Ratna and if someone is given Bharata Ratna for sport all sportspersons who got Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna will feel humiliated. Sachin Tendulkar has got Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna. Since sport is included for Bharata Ratna, Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna should be abolished.
Some question the timing of announcement and say it is a diversion from the problems faced by UPA government. There is movement for Lokpal Bill. It had to hold back FDI in retail. There is demand for P. Chidambaram’s resignation. Rupee has weakened. Economy has declined. Sachin Tendulkar is expected to hit his 100th international 100. Conferring Bharata Ratna on Sachin Tendulkar will make people happy and they will forget about the problems.
There are people who say Dhyan Chand should be the first one to get Bharata Ratna. He got three gold medals in Olympics. He played in Amsterdam (1928), Los Angeles (1932) and Berlin (1936). He scored 1,000 goals in hockey. Dhyan Chand died on 3 December 1979. Some say both Dhyan Chand and Sachin Tendulkar should get. Some say one should get, giving to two will devalue Bharata Ratna. In the past two or more persons were given Bharata Ratna in the same year. That time nobody spoke of devaluation. Some say SachinTendulkar is too young while others oppose it saying he started young.
Apart from the above two there are many other names doing rounds.
Some have proposed Balbir Singh who got three gold medals in hockey in Olympics, another player who got three gold medals and one silver medal in hockey in Olympics, Prakash Padukone, Vijay Amritraj, Ramanathan Krishnan, Milkha Singh, Vishwanathan Anand, Abhinav Bindra, Leander Paes and Karnam Malleshwari. Someone said Mahendra Singh Dhoni should get Bharata Ratna because he led India to victory in T20 World Cup and ODI World Cup and No. 1 Test ranking.
Some have proposed Katrina Kaif, Shah Rukh Khan, Amitabh Bachchan, Raj Kapoor, Dev Anand, Rajnikant, Gulzar, Mohammed Rafi and Mamooty. Someone proposed Lata Mangeshkar without knowing she got Bharata Ratna some years back.
Some have proposed Anna Hazare.
Abolishing awards will mean end to controversies and demands about awards and saving money. Bharata Ratna should be restricted to living persons. It was meant and given for living persons except in case of Lal Bahadur Shastri who died unexpectedly and was awarded Bharata Ranta within a few days of his death. That changed in 1990 and for some years people who had died many years back got Bharata Ratna. Some years back there were demands on behalf of many persons who had died long back so the award has not been given to dead persons since then.