India, the country of more than one billion people, has not produced a single ‘Bharat Ratna’ in past six years. The year 2008 will be the seventh drought year in succession if the list of all civilian honours will have no name suitable to be ‘Bharat Ratna’, the highest civilian honour of the country.
Ustad Bismillah Khan was chosen as the Bharat Ratna in 2001 and now six years have gone without a single ‘Ratna’.
Total 40 persons have so far received the highest civilian honour and the list is impressive by and large if we leave some controversies behind. The Morarji Desai government had abolished all civilian honours including Bharat Ratna between 1977-80 but the Congress government reinstated the award again in 1980.
There has been one award to a naturalized Indian citizen Mother Teresa in 1980; and two to non-Indians – Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan in 1987 and Nelson Mandela in1990.
Debate has been started in intellectual circle in the country that why did the central government fail to choose one person suitable for this highest award for exceptional service to nation for six years in a row.
Bharat Ratna is awarded for exceptional service to art, literature or science. It is also given in the recognition of extraordinary public service. Are persons like Sachin Tendulkar, Amitabh Bachchan, Vishwanathan Anand, Rajnikant, E Sridharan, Atal Bihari Vajpayee not eligible for this award?