Tag: Bharat Ratna

Rajya Sabha nominations

Rajya Sabha nomination is not an award or a prize or a title. Article 80 of the constitution prescribes that a person to be nominated to Rajya Sabha should have special knowledge or practical experience in respect of literature, science, art and social service.

Over the years many people have been nominated to Rajya Sabha in violation of the constitution. Mani Shankar Aiyar lost Lok Sabha election, he was nominated. Kuldip Nayyar was a journalist. Fali Nariman was a lawyer. Chandan Mitra, Shobhana Bhartia and Cho Ramaswamy were journalists.

Some qualified for nomination but did not know the importance or responsibility of Rajya Sabha membership. Lata Mangeshkar treated it as an award. Maqbool Fida Husain did not know nominated members did not have the right to vote in presidential election.

Now there is news that Sachin Tendulkar, Rekha and Anu Aga are nominated to Rajya Sabha. Rekha qualifies for her special knowledge or practical experience in art. Sachin Tendulkar and Anu Aga do not qualify. There is no provision for nomination in sport, law, journalism or business. Sport is not art. Journalism is not literature.

Sachin Tendulkar was the surprise choice. On 26/4/2012 Rajiv Shukla took him to meet Sonia Gandhi, ostensibly because Sonia Gandhi wanted to congratulate him on 100th 100. Soon came the news of nomination. The file of nomination moved from prime minister to home minister to president who signed it. Congress was having bad time. On 24/4/2012 it had to suspend its eight Telangana MPs from Lok Sabha for four days. On 25/4/2012 S&P cut its outlook on India from stable to negative. Bofors was back. On 26/4/2012 BJP attacked Congress in Parliament over Bofors. Once the news of Sachin Tendulkar came out that was the main topic on TV channels. Bofors, RISAT, Jhina Hikaka’s release and other matters lost their importance.

There was talk of Sachin Tendulkar getting Bharat Ratna. Sport was not a category for which Bharat Ratna was given. Criterion was changed so that Sachin Tendulkar may get Bharat Ratna. However there were demands for Bharat Ratna for many people. Some people said Dhyan Chand should be the first sportsperson to get Bharat Ratna. When Republic Day came there was no announcement of Bharat Ratna. Sports Ministry is said to have mentioned the names of Dhyan Chand, Tenzing Norgay and Abhinav Bindra but not of Sachin Tendulkar. Sports Ministry said BCCI did not recommend his name. BCCI said we thought government gives Bharat Ratna. Later Maharashtra government recommended Sachin Tendulkar’s name but the government of India did not announce Bharat Ratna for Sachin Tendulkar.

Sanjay Manjrekar said he was shocked Sachin Tendulkar accepted the nomination. Some wondered what he will do in Rajya Sabha. He has not retired from cricket. Will he find time to attend Rajya Sabha? It may happen that on a TV channel half screen will show live telecast of Rajya Sabha debate and other half will show live telecast of Sachin Tendulkar playing in a cricket match. Some fans did not want Sachin Tendulkar in Rajya Sabha. Some fans wanted him to join Rajya Sabha later.

Rekha’s nomination is curious. Jaya Bachchan had returned to Rajya Sabha after two years. Sonia Gandhi does not like her. Some years back Congress had got her disqualified on office of profit issue. That had boomeranged and Sonia Gandhi had to resign as MP and chairperson of NAC. Later a bill was passed to make many offices not offices of profit. Amitabh Bachchan was happy that Lindstrom had said there was an attempt to frame him in Bofors case. He had held a press conference and had appeared on TV channels.

Many businessmen have made it to Rajya Sabha by paying money to party presidents or MLAs. Recently a Rajya Sabha election was countermanded because around two crore rupees were found in a car and that money was meant to be payment to MLAs. Now we have nomination of a businesswoman to Rajya Sabha.

Article 80 does not say eminent citizens are to be nominated to Rajya Sabha. If challenged in courts many nominations will be struck down as unconstitutional.

Rajya Sabha should be abolished. That will save time and avoid duplication. Lok Sabha should have at least one representative per million people. India’s population being 121 crores as per 2011 census the strength of Lok Sabha should be 1210. If Parliament House cannot hold that many members Lok Sabha sessions should be held elsewhere.

Bharata Ratna candidates

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.

Bharat Ratna

Since L. K. Advani wrote to Manmohan Singh asking Bharat Ratna to Atal Behari Vajpayee many have joined demanding Bharat Ratna to various people. Names of Jyoti Basu, Kanshiram, Mohammed Rafi, Jyotiba Phule, S. B. Chavan, Biju Patnaik and others have come up.

Bharat Ratna and Padma awards were abolished by Janata Government in 1977 and re-instituted by Congress Government in 1980. The UPA Government can abolish them.

This year the award may not be conferred on anybody. While conferring the award the following should be observed:

1) The recipient must be a living Indian citizen.

2) The recipient must be a national figure.

3) The recipient must have done outstanding good to the country.

4) The recipient must have good moral character. This means, besides other things:

a) A person who has not committed murder, rape, kidnapping, hijacking, extortion or some grave crime.

b) A person who has not committed adultery.

c) A person having fathered a child refuses to acknowledge paternity and sends the child to an orphanage is not fit to receive Bharat Ratna.

d) A person who had sex with prostitute/ gigolo and/or call girl is not fit to receive Bharat Ratna.

5) The recipient must not be a defaulter of loan.

6) The recipient should not have more than one spouse.

7) The recipient should not have married a married person knowingly.

8) The recipient must not be an alcoholic, drunkard, gambler, smoker, betel chewer or gum chewer.

9) The recipient should not be a drug addict.

10) The recipient should not have been a minister in the cabinet that accepted the demands of kidnappers, hijackers and other such criminals. This means, besides other things:

a) Ministers in V. P. Singh Government that surrendered to the kidnappers of Rubiya Sayeed should not receive Bharat Ratna.

b) Ministers in P. V. Narasimha Rao Government that surrendered to the kidnappers of Doraisamy should not receive Bharat Ratna.

c) Ministers in Atal Behari Vajpayee Government that surrendered to the hijackers of Indian Airlines aeroplane that was taken to Kandahar should not receive Bharat Ratna.

d) Ministers in S. M. Krishna and M. Karunanidhi Governments that surrendered to the kidnappers of Rajkumar and paid ransom should not receive Bharat Ratna.

11) The recipient should not be a homosexual / lesbian.

12) The number of songs sung is not a qualification for receiving Bharat Ratna.

13) Proficiency in playing a musical instrument is not a qualification for receiving Bharat Ratna.

14) The number of cartoons drawn is not a qualification for receiving Bharat Ratna.

So far 40 persons have received Bharat Ratna, 11 of them posthumously, some of them many years after their death. Two were not Indian citizens. Many of them were not national figures and are forgotten.

The propriety of conferring Bharat Ratna on serving President, Vice President, Prime Minister or any other person in authority has to be decided.