The media are full of the award of Bharat Ratna to Pt. Madan Mohan Malviya and Atal Behari Vajpayi. Many people have applauded it.
I regret I cannot join in this adulation. In my opinion neither of them deserved the award.
What was there so great about Vajpayee ? And what was there in Malviya ? It is said that he set up the Benaras Hindu University. But how can a University be Hindu or Muslim ? A University is something universal. In fact setting up Aligarh Muslim University and Benares Hindu University was part of the British policy of divide and rule.
The persons who in my opinion should be awarded Bharat Ratna are :
(1) Mirza Ghalib
When I first spoke of this some people said : why not to Gautam Buddha and Ashoka ? My answer is : Ghalib is modern, not ancient or medeival, and he has taken literature to the highest pinnacle. Also, posthumous awards have frequently been given, e.g. to Dr. Ambedkar and Sardar Patel.
(2) Dr. Dwarkanath Kotnis, for his outstanding sacrifice to help the Chinese people when they were fighting the Japanese invaders. This brought laurels to India, showing that we are not a people concerned only about ourselves, but also think of the welfare of other nations
(3) Sharat Chandra Chattopadhyaya, for his powerful attack against the caste system and womens' oppression in his stories and novels
(4) Subramania Bharti, for his nationalism and powerful support for womens' emancipation in his poetry
(5) P. Sainath, for his courageous journalism, exposing the truth of the social and economic realities in India, e.g. farmers suicides.
But who cares for my opinion ?
( My article in The Hindu on 29 December, 2011: Who should get the Bharat Ratna? )