DC Edit | Bharat Ratna for Karpoori well-deserving recognition

Karpoori Thakur, who served Bihar albeit twice but briefly each time as chief minister, is best known for his decision to impose total prohibition in his state

The decision of the Central government to confer the Bharat Ratna on Karpoori Thakur, a prominent Gandhian socialist leader from Bihar, should be welcomed by every citizen. It is yet another symbolic gesture of the significance and premium the Narendra Modi-led BJP government gives to social justice, reforms and recognising leaders, present and past.

Karpoori Thakur, who served Bihar albeit twice but briefly each time as chief minister, is best known for his decision to impose total prohibition in his state and one of his many mentees, Nitish Kumar, also stopped the sale and consumption of alcohol in the state following in his footsteps.

His ideological, political and social impact is best gauged by the sheer number of politicians he inspired and who went on to achieve great success, including both Lalu Prasad Yadav and Nitish Kumar among them. He was indeed, as Mr Modi described him, a beacon and advocate of social justice.

A great contribution of his was the implementation of the Mungeri Lal Commission report, which provided for reservations for backward classes. This move inspired a big change later when the then Prime Minister, V.P. Singh, tried to implement the Mandal Commission report, which was then successfully done by the Congress government led by P.V. Narasimha Rao.

However, the Bharat Ratna award, the highest civilian honour and recognition in India, given till date to 49 people, of whom 17 were named posthumously, is not above controversy. Debates rage about omissions as much as they do on whether those recognised deserve it unimpeachably.

In all fairness, any award given out by any government, headed by politicians, will be political. More so, when the majority of those awarded the Bharat Ratna are politicians themselves.

Thankfully, in the case of Thakur, no one would argue that he does not fit the bill.

The Bharat Ratna recognises people for outstanding service of the highest order. Prominent winners in the past include Dr C. Rajagopalachari, Dr S. Radhakrishnan, Jawaharlal Nehru, Prof. C.V. Raman, Rajendra Prasad and Zakir Husain.

Subsequently, leaders of prominence, including Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Lal Bahadur Shastri and Indira Gandhi, were rewarded. Amongst its winners are also universally hailed icons like Mother Teresa, Vinoba Bhave, Dr B.R. Ambedkar and Nelson Mandela.

Stalwarts from fields other than politics who were honoured include J.R.D. Tata, Satyajit Ray, Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, M.S. Subbulakshmi, Amartya Sen, Ravi Shankar, Lata Mangeshkar, Bismillah Khan and Bhimsen Joshi.

In recent years, the naming of Sachin Tendulkar, greatest of cricketers, and Pranab Mukherjee have shifted the conversation to those who were missed out. The onus of naming the Bharat Ratna lies solely with the Prime Minister on whose recommendation the President confers the formal honours.

For example, neither Subhas Chandra Bose nor Bhagat Singh were named as Bharat Ratna. Nor was former PM and architect of economic reforms P.V. Narasimha Rao. Demands have come in from other states for recognising different leaders. But one can find satisfaction in the fully deserving recognition of the late Karpoori Thakur.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle )
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