Dr. Pathak for Bharat Ratna

December 13 2014

Modi government seems to be trying to include public aspirations in each of its decisions. The most recent matter is about the talk of getting India’s former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee the highest civilian honour – ‘Bharat Ratna’. It is believed that this announcement may be made on Atal ji’s 90th birthday, 25th December. But the corridors of power are also replete with whispers that there is another name in the race – that is Dr Bindeshwar Pathak, who is the founder of Sulabh Sanitation & Social Reform Movement; the government has already conferred the honour of Padma Bhushan on him in 1991. There is also speculation that Prime Minister Modi’s Swachh Bharat Abhiyan is somewhere inspired by the same movement by Dr Pathak. Dr Pathak’s name was first introduced for Bharat Ratna in the first-half of 2012, when the UPA-2 was in power. Sources reveal that a committee was formed under then Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, and also included the likes of politicians such as Vilas Rao Deshmukh and S M Krishna. The committee had put forward Dr Pathak’s name and when the matter came to then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, his reasoned that since he had accepted the Sulabh’s “Honest Man of the Year” award, it would not seem right to give Dr Pathak’s name. It is believed that at that time, Manmohan Singh had said to Sonia Gandhi that since Dr Pathak’s name was doing the rounds for the Nobel Peace Prize, once he does receive the prize, a natural announcement of conferring the Bharat Ratna on him could be made. Reliable sources even claim that at that time, Manmohan’s own eyes were set on the Bharat Ratna. Sources reveal that he had passed on a message about it to Sonia through his reliable aide Montek Singh Ahluvalia, but Sonia chose to remain quiet about it. Sulabh had chosen Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s name for “Honest Man of the Year” when the latter was the Opposition leader and he gladly accepted the award after he became the prime minister. Dr Pathak has got international acclaim for his two-pit-pour flush Sulabh toilets, as well as his commendable work in rehabilitating untouchables those who used to carry night soils on their heads, and for working towards giving a new lease of life to widows in Varanasi, Vrindavan and Uttarakhand. It is also believed that his name is constantly in the fray for the Nobel Peace Prize. It is worth mentioning here that the Prime Minister himself recommends the name for Bharat Ratna to the President and the award can be given to maximum three civilians in a year. For 2014, apart from Dr Pathak and Vajpayee, the other names in the race for the Bharat Ratna award include that of Subhash Chandra Bose and Kanshi Ram.

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