January is upon us, and the honours’ list for Republic Day is obviously being readied in some dark corners of New Delhi. But one of the baffling aspects of the last few years is that the country hasn’t found a fitting candidate for the highest civilian honour, the Bharat Ratna. After Lata Mangeshkar and Ustad Bismillah Khan were picked for 2001, no Indian has been found fit enough for the honour. Seven years without a single jewel in the nation’s chest!
Obviously, no Bharat Ratna is better than a politically motivated Bharat Ratna, as has become the trend in recent years. But what are we to make of the drought? That there is nobody in this nation of a billion and more worthy enough? Nobody, nobody at all, in art, literature, science, public service who deserves to be so honoured and held up as a role model? Are the ruling coalitions at the Centre playing it extra-safe and parsimonious?
Questions: Who do you think deserves the Bharat Ratna this year? Does Atal Behari Vajpayee stand a chance? An industrialist like Ratna Tata? N.R. Narayana Murthy? Amitabh Bachchan? Medha Patkar? Should we confer it on a younger person like Sachin Tendulkar instead of an old fogey with one foot in the grave?
Also read: CAMPAIGN: A Bharat Ratna for Dr Raj Kumar?