In the worst-ever terror strike in J&K, suicide bomber rams CRPF convoy at Lethpora in Pulwama district, killing more than 40 security personnel

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  • Gully Boy opens to rave reviews and good collections on Valentine's Day
  • Suicide bomber in J&K terror strike identified as Adil Ahmed Dar, a local Class XI dropout who joined Jaish a year ago
  • Referring to the terror strike in J&K, PM Modi says that the sacrifice of the security personnel will not go in vain
  • Opposition parties to meet in 2 weeks to review draft common minimum programme (CMP)
  • Arvind Kejriwal says Congress has all but refused to ally with AAP
  • Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal says SC order on Delhi a blow to democracy
  • SC bench divided on who will control services in Delhi, refers the issue to a larger bench
  • CBDT chairman Sushil Chandra appointed as Election Commissioner
  • Setback to Kejriwal: Supreme Court decides that Anti-Corruption Bureau will stay under the Centre and also gives it the power to set up Inquiry Commissions, two key issues that led to a stand-off between the L-G and the Delhi CM
  • CJI orders inquiry into the issue of tampering with orders on the court's website
  • Anil Ambani admits in court that the deal to sell R-Com's assets to Jio has failed
  • Cable switchover deadline extended to March 31
  • Rahul says Modi committed treason in the Rafale deal and can be jailed for it
  • Fire at Hotel Arpit Palace in Delhi kills 17
  • SC hold ex-interim director of CBI, M Nageshwar Rao gulity of contempt and punishes him by making him sit in the corner of the courtroom till the court rose for the day
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Bharat Ratna: Excellent Choices

By Linus Garg

About the Author

Linus Garg Linus tackles things head-on. He takes sides in his analysis and it fits excellently with our editorial policy. No 'maybe's' and 'allegedly' for him, only things in black and white.

The government has awarded the Bharat Ratna to former President Pranab Mukherjee (who incidentally was a very senior Congress leader and twice missed out on being the prime minister), stalwart Assamese musician, lyricist and singer Bhupen Hazarika and Nanaji Deshmukh, RSS ideologue and social worker who had done exemplary work in education and rural self-reliance. The last two awards have been given posthumously. This being the general election year, most commentators were sharpening their pencils to lay into the government as they thought the choices would be highly controversial. But after the names were declared, there was near unanimous approval for the choices.

The government has wisely chosen Pranab Mukherjee for the award as he is one of stalwart politicians still living. Giving him the honour has completely silenced the Congress which would have otherwise raised hell for the same being given to Nanaji Deshmukh. Some people are alluding that the award has been conferred upon Pranabda, as he is universally known, as a return of favour for his attending the RSS conclave at Nagpur some time back. But that is belittling both Bharat Ratna and Mukherjee’s immense and lifetime contribution to Indian society. The man that he is, Pranabda would have declined to accept the honour if he smelled a quid pro quo. Another person who cannot have any criticism of this is Mamata Banerjee, otherwise a strong critic of all decisions by the Modi government. After all, she cannot be seen to question the award to a fellow Bengali and someone she holds in high esteem. The government has also tried to endear itself to the electorate in West Bengal by this gesture.

The award to Bhupen Hazarika is meant to honour the great artist who left an indelible stamp of his own on Indian music and singing. His husky voice gave life to numerous songs in Bengali, Asomiya and Hindi languages. Who can forget his rendition of Ami Ek Jajabor, Gonga Amar Ma or the haunting Dil Hoom Hoom Kare from the film Rudaali. His selection is also meant to calm the North-East, especially Assam, where agitations are taking place against the Citizenship Bill and the BJP is expected to suffer setbacks.

Although people can accuse the government of partisanship in the selection of Nanaji Deshmukh, but the fact is that all governments have done this. Before the selection under the award was widened to include Indians from all walks of life, successive Congress governments gave it only to politicians and most of them from the Congress party. Deshmukh had spent a lifetime working with the rural people to improve their lot. Although he was a Marathi, he spent his life working in UP and Rajasthan. He had also maintained excellent relations with leaders across the political spectrum. He had already been conferred the Padma Vibushan in 1999. While people might say that there are other deserving candidates who have been overlooked, it is always the prerogative of the ruling dispensation to choose the awardees and Deshmukh deserves the honour.

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