Bharat Ratna Awardees
It is common knowledge that one's words, especially words spoken in an unguarded moment or a moment of anger or great excitement, reflect one's innermost thoughts. Bharat Ratna awardee Dr C N R Rao is quoted as having said "... Why the hell these idiots these politicians have given so little for us. In spite of that we scientists have done something". Dr Rao does not claim to be quoted out of context, but maintains that he used the word "idiotic" and not the word "idiot"; clearly economical with truth, because more than one media report has quoted his exact words.
He justifies the word "idiotic" as being parliamentary, going on to clarify that when he says that somebody is doing something idiotic, he is not calling that person an idiot. He claims that he did not speak in anger even though media reports say that "he lost his cool". But when he says "...why the hell..." it is difficult to believe that he was following it up in sheer fun with "these idiots these politicians ...".
Dr Rao has categorized a whole class of people—politicians, in this case—as "idiots", and in the very next sentence, he says "we scientists have done something" in spite of politicians' giving so little (funds) towards scientific activities, placing scientists in a class apart from politicians. Whether or not one agrees with Dr Rao's taxonomy, one has to admit that his utterance is unbecoming of a man of his seniority and stature.
Even if he was not Chairman of the Prime Minister's Scientific Advisory Council, Dr Rao should surely be aware that politicians ("these idiots", according to him) are responsible for awarding him the Bharat Ratna. His utterance therefore appears grossly arrogant, that too immediately following his accepting the award of India's highest decoration. Dr Rao has also said how he is proud to be India's second scientist to be awarded Bharat Ratna after Sir C V Raman, when media are saying he is the third, after C V Raman and A P J Abdul Kalam. Actually Dr Rao is correct, since Dr A P J Abdul Kalam is an engineer, not a scientist, and was awarded only an honorary doctorate rather recently. But Dr Rao deliberately omitting Dr A P J Abdul Kalam's name may indicate his sense of superiority as a scientist, and does not speak well for his humility, when everybody agrees that humility is the hallmark of greatness.
India's former ambassador in USA, Ronen Sen, of headless chickens fame, was chastised by politicians, who always take themselves very seriously. It remains to be seen how politicians will handle Dr Rao's intemperate outburst.
Speaking of Bharat Ratna awardees, one cannot help turning one's attention to Sachin Tendulkar, who was Dr Rao's co-awardee. An undoubted wonder in the world of cricket, Sachin has made cricket history. Receiving Bharat Ratna at such a young age and that too as the first sportsperson to do so, is truly remarkable, and Sachin's consistent humility adds to his greatness in cricket. But one cannot help wondering about the propriety of a Bharat Ratna awardee, a (priceless) Jewel of India, continuing to sell his name, pictures and video shots for advertisements of commercial products, as a source of income. Even if the ad does not state that Sachin is a Bharat Ratna, would it be appropriate for Sachin to now act for, or give his name or picture for commercial purposes and receive remuneration for it? Surely politicians in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha would have a view on this subject. One is left to wonder whether they will say anything on this matter, though one can be sure that they will have something to say to Dr C N R Rao.
S G Vombatkere, Bangalore
Jalandhar, November 1. In the Desh Bhagat Yadgaar Hall premises abuzz with people, the final day of Mela Ghadar Shatabdi Da saw the participation of as many as 15,000 people from across the state. Intellectuals, writers, farmers, historians, Ghadar enthusiasts, among others, participated in the fair celebrating the Ghadar centenary this year in big numbers.
It witnessed the bonding of revolutionary cultural activists from all over the country and the resposnse was phenomenal. For the 1st time a cultural troupe from Maharashtra performed in Punjab which represented the Dalit caste and it was the lst time that the Republican Panther Party of India (representative of the Dalits) participated in a revolutionary event in Puuiab. Great cultural programmes took place in the night after a huge rally in which about 6000 people paraded the streets of Jalandhar. A superb play was performed which was written by the president of the Punjab Loksabhaycharak Manch, Amolak Singh, which superbly portrayed the ideals of the Ghadar party and their relevance in the corrupt, exploitative society of today. The cast brilliantly portrayed the theme. Vinay and Charul from Ahmedabad also performed brilliantly with a touching presentation. On the previous day a quiz programme was held for school students in Jalandhar with 4 groups. It was amazing to see the knowledege of those students on the Ghadar party. Overall the programme superbly rekindled the flames of the Ghadar Party formed in 1913. Above all it had the participation representing various trends in the Communist revolutionary camp who made great preparations for this historic event. Tremendous cultural practice programmes were done by the youth of the play groups in the villages inspired by the late playwright Gursharan Singh.
The organisers time and again reiterated the prime motive this year—a link which connects the present generation with Ghadar ideals. The concluding day started with a march past, which included students saluting the Ghadar flag.
The much awaited Jhande di rasam (flag hoisting ceremony) and Jhande da geet (penned by cultural convener of the committee Amolak Singh) kick-started the day. In the song, which featured the voices of 150 artistes from across the state, various universities, student groups, artiste and theatre groups participated.
Books "Ghadar Di Goonj" and "Geet Chiragan De", a souvenir and Desh Bahgat Yadgaar Hall (DBYH) library's directory, published by the Desh Bhagat Yadgaar Committee, were also released on the occasion.
Dr Varyam Singh Sandhu and Dr Parminder addressed the audience and a play, "Aa ke Ragoo Basant", directed by Neeraj Kaushik, was staged. Singer Knwal Bahar and Kvishar Gurmukh presented vocal performances.
Harsh Thakor, Mumbai
‘Ban Motorized Transport’
I was surprised to know, through a protest letter by Medha Patkar and others published in Frontier, that the Kolkata Corporation has banned non-motorized transport in more than 170 major and minor roads and streets in Kolkata. It is certainly an assault on the rights of common man and also looks ridiculous. If the reason is congestion and narrowness of streets, should it not be the other way round? That is, in such roads it is the motorized transport that should be banned or strictly regulated. In the developed democracies we see bicycle paths and pedestrian pavements provided almost everywhere [except perhaps on certain freeways meant exclusively for fast transport] and they care so much for the common man, especially the old and the physically challenged and the low income groups. In India in many cities we find no pavements even for pedestrians to walk for miles and miles of city roads thus forcing them to walk on the side parts of the roads and meet with many accidents. And bicycle paths are almost absent. So I join in the protest and demand that in such congested roads and streets it is the motorized transport that should be banned or strictly regulated but not the non-motorized transport. I also demand that all pavements should be cleared, and if we start with the demolition of encroachments by shops and businessmen adjacent to the pavements [who everywhere as a rule encroach part of pavements], then the problem of pavement occupiers and street vendors will also be automatically solved. For the convenience and livelihood of such vulnerable sections, as also for parking purposes, separate and gated premises should be made open at every cross roads instead of encouraging malls and big buildings to come up at the cross roads.
I Mallikarjuna Sharma
Vol. 46, No. 23, Dec 15 -21, 2013
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