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Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Sachin becomes MP and- talk about conferring 'Bharat Rathna'

To multitudes of Indians, no doubt Sachin represent the face of India – the icon of Cricket with loads of records behind him.   Recently, India’s latest batting sensation Virat Kohli said Sachin Tendulkar deserves country’s highest civilian award — the Bharat Ratna.  His voice is not alone; earlier Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan told the state Assembly that his government would recommend Tendulkar’s name for the highest civilian award. One need not take Kohli too seriously; he may be a good batsman, getting so many endorsements despite his failure in IPL version 5 – he can concentrate more on cricket rather than speak on any national issues. 
Bharat Rathna – meaning ‘Gem of India’  has greater significance than Sports performance.  It is an award of highest National service including art, literature and scientific achievements as also in recognition of public service of the highest order.

On a different plane,  Press Council of India Chairman Justice Markandey Katju  remarked that  Cricketers like Sachin Tendulkar should not be honoured with the Bharat Ratna as the demand to give the award to filmstars and cricket players spoke of ‘the low cultural level’.  He favoured giving award posthumously to some more greatly regarded persons like Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay, Munshi Premchand and Tamil poet Subramania Bharathi. 
In India we have the bad practice of elevating people to Godly status instantaneously and then criticizing them in a short span.  Stars of tinseldom get much more recognition than Scientists and those doing grat work to humanity.  With its fan following, cricketers achieve fame rather too early and mint money through endorsements more than by playing the game.  For a matured cricket fan, the 100th ton coming as it did by combining two different forms of Cricket meant little – still the Nation celebrated and almost immediately, he has been nominated as a Member of the Rajya Sabha.  Some have even mocked it as a political ploy by the ruling party to enhance its stature.   Sachin Tendulkar is not alone, nor was the first person to become a nominated MP.    With its original intent,  Article 80 (3) of the Constitution was best reflected by Jawaharlal Nehru when he said in 1953, “The nominated MPs do not represent any political party or anything but they represent the high watermark of literature, art or culture, or whatever it may be.” The only sportsman to be earlier nominated was wrestler Dara Singh is a measure of just how historically sports was treated as a ‘lesser’ activity. Dara Singh too, after all, was more an entertainer than a sportsman.  Sachin is young – yes young for the Parliament and can attend regularly and speak more on National issues.  But has to clearly decide his role – whether to continue playing or represent the Nation at a great representative body.  If he opts out of a session for playing a game of IPL, then it would not be appropriate in the interests of the Nation though he is still capable of scoring runs in any form of cricket including T20 of IPL.    In some circles, it is now spoken that  becoming a nominated Rajya Sabha member the best post-retirement plan for someone with the iconic status of a Tendulkar. 
Speaking of Bharat Ratna being conferred after death,  there was no provision when this Award was institutionalized.  Mahatma Gandhi was never awarded Bharat Ratna.  Legendary freedom fighter Nethaji Subash Chandra Bose was awarded in 1992 but was later withdrawn to a legal technicality in accepting his death. Tamilnadu’s MG Ramachandran was conferred Bharat Ratna posthumously and curiously two foreigners  Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan (1987) and Nelson Mandela (1990) were conferred Bharat Ratna.   11 persons have been awarded this after their death – recognition after their passing away. Apart from Vinobha Bhave, Jayaprakash Narain and Dr BR Ambedkar, rest were all connected with political field. Abul Kalam Azad was given this award posthumously in 1992, though he passed away in 1958.  
With regards – S. Sampathkumar.
13th May 2012

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