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Thursday, August 11, 2011

Indira Gandhi posthumously honoured with Bangladesh highest civilian Award

Can you bracket them together – Neville Cardus, Donald Bradman, Conrad Hunte, Len Hutton, Garfield Sobers, Richard Hadlee, Isaav Vivian Alexander Richards, Ian Terrance Botham,  Vijayananda Gajapathi Raju & …………
The highest civilian award of the Nation is ‘Bharat Ratna’ (literally Gem of India) – awarded for the highest National service including art, literature and scientific achievements as also in recognition of public service of the highest order. The recipients inlcude Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan and Nelson Mandela !  Our neighbouring state of Pakistan has a similar civil award known as -  Nishan-e-Pakistan,  given by the Government of Pakistan for the highest degree of service to the country and nation of Pakistan. The award was established on March 19, 1957.  Morarji Desai, the fourth PM of India (first non Congress PM) was a recipient of this, so also was Mohammed Yusuf Khan, better known as Dilip Kumar.
There is  bound to be lot of commonality amongst neighbouring countries and people.  In history, there are referenes to the  kingdom of Gangaridai  (Sanskrit – Nation on the river Ganges), which existed around 7th century BCE  which later united with Bihar under the Magadha, Nanda, Mauryan and Sunga Empires. Bengal was later part of the Gupta Empire and Harsha Empire from the 3rd to the 6th centuries CE. By the 16th century, the Mughal Empire controlled Bengal, and Dhaka became an important provincial centre of Mughal administration.  British East India Company gained control of Bengal following the Battle of Plassey in 1757. Between 1905 and 1911, an abortive attempt was made to divide the province of Bengal into two zones.  When India was vivisected in 1947,  Bengal was partitioned along religious lines, with the western part going to India and the eastern part joining Pakistan as a province called East Bengal (later renamed East Pakistan), with its capital at Dhaka.   Later Awami League agitated for autonomy in the 1960s and its leader Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, was blocked from taking office even after winning a  majority.
In 1971, the bloody  Bangladesh Liberation War lasted for nine months. The Mitro Bahini achieved a decisive victory over Pakistan on 16 December 1971 and became independent.  Bangladesh, officially the People's Republic of Bangladesh  is a sovereign state, bordered by India on all sides except for a small border withBurma (Myanmar) to the far southeast and by the Bay of Bengal to the south. Bangladesh is a parliamentary democracy, with an elected parliament called the Jatiyo Sangshad.
The highest Bangladesh award — the Bangladesh Swadhinata Sammanona (Bangladesh Freedom Honour ) —  and it was conferred on the late Indira Gandhi for her outstanding contributions to Bangladesh's Liberation War.  Bangladesh is celebrating 40 years of independence from Pakistan and late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s name figures on top of the list of foreign dignitaries who contributed to the liberation.

Bangladesh President Zillur Rahman presented the award, the highest honour for any foreign national after 40 years of Bangladesh's independence from Pakistan and it was received Indira Gandhi’s daughter-in-law Sonia Gandhi at Dhaka. An official said Bangladesh has so far listed 500 “1971 foreign friends”, including 226 Indians and 40 Pakistanis.  Ms. Sonia Gandhi recalled the fond memories of her mother-in law during the tumultuous days of 1971, when the great Indian leader took a firm, principled stand to side with the oppressed people of then East Pakistan. She concluded her speech saying: “Joy Bangla, Joy Bangladesh-India Friendship.”
Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina was present with her Cabinet colleagues at the ceremony at the President's House, Bangabhaban.  The award included a 200 tola gold medal and a citation which read: “Ms. Indira Gandhi stood by the side of the people of Bangladesh from the beginning of the Liberation War despite various adversities. She provided shelter to about one crore Bangladeshi refugees. She provided courage in the Liberation War by facing different diplomatic hurdles. She played a great role in freeing Bangabandhu from Pakistani jail. Her contribution to Bangladesh's Liberation War will be remembered forever.”  The citation was read out by Cabinet Secretary Abdul Aziz.
The award though was never conferred during the lifetime of Indira Gandhi who was assassinated in 1984 but given posthumously now.   Posthumus is from Latin posthumus, of posterus ("coming after"), the "h" added by association with humus ("ground, earth") referring to burial.  It refers to children born after the death of one’s father and also refers to events taking place after one’s death and in reference to a work, something published after the author’s death.
The list at the first para comprises some of the cricketers who were knighted and were entitled to the prefix of Sir.  Lieutenant Colonel Sir Vijayananda Gajapathi Raju  was more popularly known as   Maharajkumar of Vizianagram.  Knighthood is  the award of the  Most Excellent Order of the British Empire is an order of chivalry established on 4 June 1917 by George V of the United Kingdom.  The  highest two ranks automatically cause an individual to become a knight, an honour allowing the recipient to use the title "Sir".
With regards – S. Sampathkumar.

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