By Shyamal Sinha
The Bharat Ratna (Hindi pronunciation: is the highest civilian award of the Republic of India. Instituted in 1954, the award is conferred “in recognition of exceptional service/performance of the highest order”, without distinction of race, occupation, position, or sex.The award was originally limited to achievements in the arts, literature, science, and public services, but the government expanded the criteria to include “any field of human endeavour” in December 2011.
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar took to Twitter on Saturday to express his support for Gopalkrishna Gandhi’s article in Hindi published in Dainik Jagran, calling for the conferment of Bharat Ratna, country’s highest civilian award, upon His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
The article titled, “The Dalai Lama is a world’s precious gem,” was published on April 12 on Naidunia Jagran, a sister portal of Dainik Jagran.
The article was published following the Tibetan leader’s hospitalization in the Indian capital for chest infection. He has recovered since and been released.
Instituted in 1954, Bharat Ratna is awarded in recognition of exceptional service/performance of the highest order in any field of human endeavour.
Gandhi, in the article, said for an 83-year-old, any disease becomes the cause of concern, stating that the humanity, sympathy, world peace, brotherhood needs His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
Kumar on Saturday in a two-part tweet wrote that he agreed with the article by Gandhi in Dainik Jagran.
The second tweet reads, “The priceless concepts of unity, love, nonviolence and world peace make India exceptional. It is important to honour a visionary leader like His Holiness the Dalai Lama.”
The chief minister had last called on the Dalai Lama at the latter’s residence on December 31, 2018, at Bodhgaya.
The two have previously met in January 2018 during the launch of the first volume of ‘Science and Philosophy in the Indian Buddhist Classics’ in Bodh Gaya.
Bemoaning India’s failure to value the presence of the Dalai Lama, Gandhi, in the article likened His Holiness to a precious sentimental artefact that is kept tucked in the corner of people’s minds and hearts. “We have to bring that lamp out of the darkness,” he wrote.
“Although China has made Tibet’s body its own, India has handled the spirit of Tibet,” he ruminates emphasizing the significance of the word ‘refuge’ in Tibetan Buddhism that India has granted Tibetans.
Addressing the current and previous governments hesitation and nervousness about China’s reaction, he called it unnecessary as India has already recognized Tibet to be an integral part of China.
“Furthermore, the Dalai Lama himself does not see Tibet separate from China, he only seeks the protection of Tibetan spirituality and culture and the Buddhist tradition there.”
source – phayul.com
Though usually conferred on India-born citizens, the Bharat Ratna has been awarded to one naturalised citizen,
Gandhi argues that if Badshah Khan, Abdul Gaffar Khan, Nelson Mandela and Mother Teresa could all be honoured with the same recognition, why must His Holiness the Dalai Lama be deprived of the deserving title?
He essentially stated that the conferment of the award is a matter of India’s self-respect.
The grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, Gopalkrishna Gandhi was the 22nd Governor of West Bengal serving from 2004 to 2009.
In November 2016, the then sitting BJP MP and former Union Minister Shanta Kumar urged the Central government to confer the recognition upon His Holiness the Dalai Lama for his great service to humanity.
The Rashtriya Syawamsevak Sangh (RSS) launched a campaign for awarding Bharat Ratna to the foremost Tibetan leader in April 2017, a day before he reached Tawang in West Kameng district in the face of protests from China.
The Bharat Ratna award –
An image of the Sun along with the words “Bharat Ratna”, inscribed in Devanagari script, on a peepal(Ficus religiosa) leaf
A platinum State Emblem of Indiaplaced in the centre with the national motto, “Satyameva Jayate” (Truth alone triumphs) in Devanagari script