Friday, February 12, 2016

Scrap Padma Awards

Civil Awards are supposed to be the pinnacle of honor in any country. But is it really so in India? Come Republic Day, and the newspapers are full of juicy (as well as rotten) tidbits of gossip-cum-official statements. Some gain fame by ‘refusing’ the awards, some gain infamy by soliciting/demanding for them. 

For all his shortcomings, Morarji Desai was truly a visionary. He stopped the awards in 1977. No other government could even dream of taking such a straightforward and hard-hitting step. If one looks at the list of all ‘Bharat Ratna’s awarded so far, consider the contribution of each, consider the age (average and variation) of each, one starts seeing some interesting co-relations. The contribution of Bhagwan Das and M. G. Ramchandran was more noteworthy and hence needed to be considered first, before considering Dr. Ambedkar. Similarly, the contribution of Nelson Mandela and Rajiv Gandhi had to be acknowledged first before considering Vallabhbhai Patel. 

The list of Padma Vibhushan’s, Padma Bhushan’s and Padma Shree’s has its own way of interpreting the ‘civil honor’s. Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s knee replacement surgery was done. The doctor doing it of course got Padma Bhushan. Such co-relations are galore. 

The ‘Padma’ awardees are not necessarily ‘civil’. Consider Rt. Hon. Saif Ali Khan. His behavior has been reported in the media quite frequently. That didn’t deter the government from conferring the ‘civil honor’ on him. 

Padma Vibhushan Dr. K. H. Sancheti from Pune runs a hospital. The medical diagnosis center in that hospital is caught in a medical malpractice controversy. Dr. Himmatrao Bawaskar who filed the complaint, has been acknowledged by The Lancet. But of course, he doesn’t have any ‘Padma’ award. Even the news coverage was very cautious, and obviously didn’t mention Padma Vibhushan Dr. Sancheti. What was the stance of the diagnosis center? There was a ‘misunderstanding’. The outcome of the medical malpractice suit? Why not check again after a couple of decades?
Consider this year’s list. 

There is good news this year for Swami Dayanand Saraswati, full 129 years after his death in 1883. His contributions have been considered to be on par with luminaries such as former CAG Vinod Rai and Chairperson of publishing group Bennet Coleman & Company Indu jain, tennis star Sania Mirza et al. 

The eminent farmer leader, late Sharad Joshi’s family refused Padma Shri. BTW, this is the same honor already conferred on Rt. Hon. Saif Ali Khan. So you can understand whose contribution is more noteworthy and has to be considered first. Sharad Joshi’s family is wrong. They should have been humble and thankful that his contributions were finally noted. And he was to be conferred the award in company of great contributors such as guru Sri Sri Ravishankar, and singer Udit Narayan. Of course, the contribution of these two is way above that of Sharad Joshi. Sri Sri Ravishankar is Padma Vibhushan and Udit Narayan is Padma Bhushan. 

It is time to put an end to this mindless, meaningless, shameful and discriminatory charade.

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