Time to award a Bharat Ratna to Sam Manekshaw

In the next couple of days, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will confer Bharat Ratna upon an individual who has rendered great service to the nation.

The top contenders are ex-PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee, hockey wizard Major Dhyan Chand, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose and social reformer Kanshi Ram. Contributions of these four have been overlooked over the years and they deserve recognition and accolades for their unflagging service.

Modi sarkaar though needs to look into one more name who has never even come close to being considered for the highest award of the country – Field Marshal Sam Hormusji Framji Jamshedji Manekshaw.

It would be futile to compare the other notable figures who have over the year recieved the Bharat Ratna – each of them had done exceptional work in their respective fields.

One argument often given for not considering Manekshaw’s name for Bharat Ratna is that Indian Armed Forces have their own set of Gallantry Awards and hence aren’t considered for the Civilian awards. This argument is flawed at the base level.

Padma Shri, Padma Bhushan and Padma Vibhushan are awarded for distiguished service in their fields. Bharat Ratna for exceptional service/performance of the highest order in any field of human endeavour.

They are awards instituted to recognize one’s contributions towards the growth and betterment of the nation.

If the same logic of Army personnel is considered to be valid, then what entitles Saif Ali Khan, Aamir Khan etc to Padma awards? Don’t they have National Film Awards, Filmfare, IIFA and a gazillion other awards. Sachin Tendulkar was recently awarded the Bharat Ratna – don’t sportspersons already have Khel Ratna and Arjuna awards?

Field Marshall Sam Manekshaw led independent India to it’s first and only victory in 1971. This victory went a long way in establishing India’s dominance in South Asia. No other single event has more dramatically changed the way the world views us.

It’s high time that we start honouring those who lay down their lives to ensure that we sleep peacefully.

Another counter-argument is that Manekshaw is dead. One look at the list of Bharat Ratna awardees, and one finds that out of the 43 recipients, 11 recieved it posthumously. Vallabhai Patel received it 41 years after his death. Sam Manekshaw has been dead for only 7 years.

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