Friday, December 16, 2011

Con of the Millennium: Bharat Ratna for Sachin Tendulkar.

Whoever masterminded the campaign to get the Bharat Ratna conferred on Tendulkar must be a PR genius (or “guru” if one were to use a contemporary marketing buzzword). Imagine the amount of work that must have gone into whipping up the clamour in the media to nominate the player for the honour. The quantum of lobbying with the sports, culture and home affairs ministries and the PMO – all the foxy manoeuvres – must have required a phenomenal amount of money, influence and patience. Then came the imaginative master stroke to cloak the ludicrous proposal in a mantle of credible provenance: the enrolling of the late Dhyan Chand as his fellow conferee for the coveted award. Strike the right emotional chords. After all, Dhyan Chand played in all three Indian field hockey team winning the Olympic Gold in a row in 1928, 1932 and 1936 − the first two times as a player and in the last instance as a playing captain. He deserves to be a Bharat Ratna without doubt. Field hockey happens to be the poor cousin of cricket in India. By implication, Dhyan Chand is the underdog with whom the Master of the Universe is willing to share the crusade to win the country’s highest honour. What magnanimity! (By the way, is this the same large-hearted Sachin Tendulkar who sought in 2003 to get a Rs.1.1-crore Import Duty and Excise exemption for the Ferrari gifted to him by the manufacturer?) Even Anna Hazare, Middle India’s current hero and poster boy, and Asha Bhosale are demanding a BR for ST. The brainy Babus who have broadened the eligibility criteria for Bharat Ratna to include excellence in all fields of human endeavour need to ask themselves a simple question. Shouldn’t Har Gobind Khorana (1922 - 2011), the winner of the Nobel Prize for his role in the discovery of RNA vis-à-vis the genetic code not be the first in the queue? There is a precedence for this: Khorana’s Indian-British compatriot and fellow Nobel laureate, Prof Amartya Sen, got it in 1999. Is discovering RNA any less of a human achievement than scoring 99 centuries?