Tuesday, October 2, 2007

The Mahatma and the Nobel, or Bharat Ratna for Netaji

There was a news piece today on CNN-IBN, about the Nobel committee's regret at never having selected Mahatma Gandhi for the Nobel Prize. Interesting ... There is a school of thought that racism was the reason ... I dont think so! If it was, then Rabindranath, Dr. J. C. Bose, Dr. Chandradrashekhar, wouldnt have received the Nobel Prize.

Of course, this raises an important question ... Does the Nobel Prize matter? More often than not, Nobel has been a prize for Europeans, and Americans ... with a relative minority of Asians, for example, receiving the Nobel Prize. One could say that the Nobel is a benchmark. But, the question I have is, whether the benchmark is something we should look at as an absolute?

On a similar note ... It took the Government of India more than 40 years to award the Bharat Ratna to Netaji Shubhas Chandra Bose. One wonders why. Either Netaji was a great leader of the country, or he wasnt. If he was, what took Government of India so long, and if he wasnt, why was the Bharat Ratna awarded to Netaji posthumously? For some reason, Government of India has always been cool to the idea of Netaji. Whether it be the treatment meted out to the Shahnawaz Committee, or whether it be the rejection of the Mukherjee Committee report, seems like there is something there which doesnt meet the eye. One could argue that even if Netaji didnt die in the Taiwan plane crash, he would be 95 in 1992, when Government of India decided to confer on him the Bharat Ratna. Which means, that by then, he might have gone to a natural death. Which means, that it would be a nice idea to not entertain thoughts that Netaji ould be alive today. But, there are still a lot of questions, which are very important to history, and which are not answered.

Though, this brings out another, related question ... If awards are going to be given based on the whims and fancies of a selection committee, or based on some convenient policy, or something similar, do these awards make any sense? What should be the value that is attached to these awards? Rather than awards, one can see the actions of people, and they speak for themselves.

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