July 13, 2024

Lukmaan IAS

A Blog for IAS Examination


THE CONTEXT: Recently, the government announced Bharat Ratnas for PV Narasimha Rao, Chaudhary Charan Singh and MS Swaminathan. Though, all of them are well-deserved as their contribution was unprecedented and respected by all Indians but there should also be a moment of introspection in award giving by the government.


  • Bharat Ratna is the highest civilian Award of the country, was instituted in the year 1954.
  • It was suspended from July 1977 to January 1980 and for a second time from August 1992 to December 1995.


  • Any person without distinction of race, occupation, position or sex is eligible for these awards. Earlier, there was no provision for posthumous awards but since 1966 awards are given posthumously as well.


  • It is awarded in recognition of exceptional service/performance of the highest order in any field of human endeavour.
  • The recommendations for Bharat Ratna are made by the Prime Minister himself to the President. No formal recommendations for this are necessary.
  • The number of annual awards is restricted to a maximum of three in a particular year.
  • On conferment of the award, the recipient receives a Sanad (certificate) signed by the President and a medallion. The Award does not carry any monetary grant.

Constitutional provisions:

  • In terms of Article 18 (1) of the Constitution, the award cannot be used as a prefix or suffix to the recipient’s name.
  • However, should an award winner consider it necessary, he/she may use the following expression in their bio- data/letterhead/visiting card etc. to indicate that he/she is a recipient of the award: ‘Awarded Bharat Ratna by the President’ or ‘Recipient of Bharat Ratna Award.
  • With official announcements, recipients are announced and registered in The Gazette of India, a publication released by the Department of Publication, Ministry of Urban Development used for official government notices.
  • Bharat Ratna recipients rank seventh in the Indian order of precedence.


  • Narasimha Rao was the father of India’s economic reforms. He is known for bringing the policy of economic liberalisation in India.
  • It was initiated in 1991 with the goal of making the economy more market- and service-oriented, and expanding the role of private and foreign investment.
  • The success of the policy changes he unveiled in 1991 opening up the economy to the world and private investment, both domestic and foreign can be measured by the country’s GDP growing some 13-fold, from $270 billion to $3.5 trillion.
  • He sought to dismantle the restrictions imposed under the license raj, reduce red tape and make Indian industries more competitive.


  • Charan Singh’s three landmark pieces of legislation in Uttar Pradesh transformed the agricultural economy of northern India during the 1950s and 1960s.
  1. Dismantling the zamindari system of intermediaries between the cultivator and the state.
  2. Enabling consolidation of fragmented holdings
  3. Enforcing land ceiling
  • It helped create a new socially and politically empowered middle peasant class in the region. Their economic fortunes rose with the Green Revolution, whose key architect was Swaminathan.


  • He was called the ‘Father of the Green Revolution’, and played a major role in the set of changes introduced in farming in the 1960s and ‘that helped India achieve food security.
  • He was the first to recognise the potential of the new high-yielding wheat and rice varieties less tall with strong stems that responded well to more fertiliser application.
  • He also strengthened the national agricultural research system (NARS) that has helped boost yields in other crops as well, including through breeding of varieties resistant to pests, diseases and abiotic stresses.
  • He would go on to serve at a number of institutions related to the sector in both India and abroad – as an Independent Chairman of the Food and Agricultural Organisation Council (1981-85), President of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (1984-90), President of the World Wide Fund for Nature (India) from 1989-96 and the Director General of Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), among others.
  • He received the Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Award in 1961 for biological sciences. The GOI bestowed the Padma Vibhushan on Swaminathan in 1989.
  • In 1971, he received the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Community Leadership. He also received the UNESCO Mahatma Gandhi Gold Medal in 1999.


  • Democratisation of selection process: The awarding of Bharat Ratna to any person marks great honour and recognition to their work. Hence, to provide continued legitimacy to the awards there should be democratisation of the selection process.
  • Introspection of awards: The awarding of Bharat Ratna to the three eminent persons should also be a moment of introspection. The motive of such national awards should not be affected by any political interest. As reforms have delivered growth, but not lessened poverty as much as was hoped. Rao would not have been happy with rising inequality and continued misallocation of resources towards inefficient producer and consumer subsidies. Charan Singh’s initiatives needs a new formula for boosting incomes through crop diversification, improved input use efficiency and cutting out intermediaries in the marketing of produce.
  • Restoring NARS: The best tribute to Swaminathan would be to restore the NARS to its former glory. Farmer interest is better served by more money for research and infrastructure investments, not under-pricing of fertiliser, electricity and water.


The Bharat Ratna stands as a prestigious recognition of exceptional service and contributions to India and despite controversies and debates, it continues to symbolize the nation’s gratitude to those who have made outstanding contributions to humanity.


Q. Normally countries shift from agriculture to industry and then later to services, but India shifted directly from agriculture to services. What are the reasons for the huge growth of services vis-a-vis the industry in the country? Can India become a developed country without a strong industrial base? (2014)


Q. Discuss the ways to insulate the national awards from politics to ensure democratisation in the process so that it does not lead to populism and devaluation of the awards.

SOURCE: https://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/editorials/express-view-three-ratnas-9156177/

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