This is in continuation of my earlier post
The post has been favourably received and I am thankful to Ram, Kannan, V. Ramabrahman and Avinash for their supportive comments. Further to that post I have carried out deeper analysis of the BR awards over the last six decades. They confirm what has already been said. There are also a few startling facts. I wish to consolidate them here.
Sachin Tendulkar has many firsts in his illustrious cricketing career. The latest “first” is with respect to the award. He is the first person born after 1954 (the year in which the award was instituted) to be decorated with Bharat Ratna. At an age of forty he is also the youngest person to get the award. The next older person is Rajiv Gandhi (posthumous) at forty-seven and the next, perhaps not surprisingly, Indira Gandhi at fifty-four. This age record is not likely to be broken ever unless Leander Paes (younger than Sachin by three months) is recognized for the award within a month and more so because Rahul Gandhi is already forty-three.
Sachin getting the award at an early age is even more glaring if we consider the fact that the average age of non-posthumous awardees prior to the latest award is as high as 78.6 years – almost twice Sachin’s age.
Out of the forty-three persons to get the award, as many as eleven have been posthumous. That is about one in four. Prior to 1990, such award were given immediately after death. People like Lal Bahadur Shastri, Kamraj and Vinoba Bhave fall in this category. But after 1990 the governments started the habit of exhuming long forgotten politicians for giving the Bharat Ratna award. Dr. B R Ambedkar, Vallababhai Patel, Maulana Azad and Jaya Prakash Narayan are such recipients. The governments concerned have perhaps affronted them more than honouring them. Ramabrahman, in his comments on my earlier post, made the observation that the award lost its aura after 1990 because of these posthumous recognitions.
Of the forty three awards till now, people in public life have dominated with as many as twenty-eight politicians and freedom fighters getting the honour. In fact, this category of people got all but two of the awards till 1991.The exceptions were Sir CV Raman (1954) and Sir M Visweswarayya (1955). These two are among the six people to get under science and technology. Six eminent persons have got under “Arts” category. The first among these was Satyajit Ray in 1992 when he was terminally ill. Mother Teresa and Vinoba Bhave (posthumous) have also got the award and can be grouped under Social Service. With Sachin as the lone sportsman, the list is complete. When it comes tp sports category, it is interesting that only two have got Padma Vibhushan award. They are Sachin himself and Vishwanathan Anand.
We also need to take cognizance of the fact that some of the awards are given on political and party considerations. In my opinion the posthumous award given to M G Ramachandran is one such and was given to appease AIADMK Party. If there is a provision for withdrawing these awards, the present government may happily do so. In this context it is also worth noting that BJP recently made a statement that A B Vajpayee will be conferred Bharat Ratna if they come to power.
What does all this above sum up to? Perhaps nothing at all! It is rather sad that the highest civilian award of this land has not been treated with respect and reverence it deserves. Nothing more need be told.
As far as Sachin is concerned I don’t think anyone in this country grudges his getting the award. Still one can’t avoid thinking that the government acted a bit hastily. It could have come in the normal manner along with other Jan26 announcements. There was no urgency to announce this on the day of his retirement. The lobbying which preceded the award is also perhaps not in good taste.
In conclusion I wish to quote the views expressed by our veteran athlete Milkha Singh “I am happy that Tendulkar has been conferred the Bharat Ratna. But personally, I feel that Dhyan Chand should have been the first recipient as he was the one who put India on the international sporting map”. (Source: http://www.thehindu.com/sport/cricket/role-model-tendulkar-deserves-bharat-ratna-milkha-singh/article5383360.ece?homepage=true). Further he said “After the Bharat Ratna to Tendulkar, now the door has been opened for other sportspersons. They can now aspire to win the country’s highest civilian award”