Bharat Ratna is the highest civilian award of India , conferred “in recognition of exceptional service/performance of the highest order in any field of human endeavour” It consists of a Certificate and a Medallian. At present there is no monetary grant and there are no cash concessions like free air/train/bus travel for self and attendants, These need to be extended to Bharat Ratna and Padma awardees, though they may not require these, but as a token of the country’s gratitude these could be considered. The awardees should also be extended courtesies of invitation for all major local government functions and the government officers should show due courtesies whenever the Awardeed contact them personally or otherwise. Bharat Ratna holders are appropriatelyincluded in the Table of Precedence. Padma Awardees should also be included in the Table oir Precedence at appropriate places.
The Awardees are not permitted to suffix or prefix the awards to their names as per the constitution. There appears to be no good reason to deny this.
The Government of India has released a list of 130 persons for whom three categories of the highest civilian awards, the Padma Awards, are to be conferred in 2010. The three Padma awards – Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan and Padma Sri – are given for exceptional and distinguished service, distinguished service of the high order and distinguished service, respectively, in the fields of art, science & engineering, trade & industry, literature & education, public affairs, medicine or social work.
A perusal of the list shows that of the six Padma Vibhushan awardees three are from the arts, one from public affairs, one from science & technology but from the UK and the sixth is from trade & industry. The Government has a well established procedure for selecting awardees and the awardees help maintain the prestige of the awards.
It seems that it is now time to review the policy guidelines with a view to confer separate awards for an individual’s exceptional achievements in his/her field and individual’s distinguished service in his/her field to the country or the humanity as a whole.
The distinguished service could be like the following:
- Finding cures for till now incurable diseases such as cancer and new diseases such as chikungunya and swine flu
- Developing new and cheap technology
- Evolving new varieties of high yielding and drought resistant crops
- Sacrificing comforts and improving the standard of living and quality of life of people
Padma awards could be given for exceptional achievements in one’s field and a new category of awards could be instituted for distinguished service.