A Bharat Ratna or not?


Horrororror!Horror! was the insane cry of a Col Kurtz eerily played by Marlon Brando in Apocalypse Now(based on “A Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad) on seeing the inhuman carnage in Vietnam.That moment had remained frozen in the recesses of my memory, forever.Tragically,that sense of Hell seemed to spring yet again while going through this heart – wrenching narrative graphically told of the Cellular Jail and ruthlessly brought out in this article.The barbarism of the British skewered my inner vitals just imagining the vivid details of excruciating gore.Guilty and weak I felt ,as I stood free but hollow,being more aware of an Auschwitz, Gulag and Guantanomo, blissfully distant from our very own who died bloody,undignified deaths,screaming and squealing unheard to relentless ungodly tortures.Yes,a very few scared and fearful,shaken to their marrows chose to seek pardon making this theatre of the macabre seem human in a way,profoundly weird.Savarkar

was one of them.

Having finished reading I was not very sure of my courage anymore but sanguine of a cowardice deeply embedded within.I was both unashamedly frightened and strangely inspired.

Savarkar would be lionised,to me if succeeding generations of hero worshippers admit,concede and recognise the fallibility of frail human beings- like most of us – to get scared of the consequences of rebellion and seek pardon.It is one thing to lay down one’s life regardless and quite another to seek pardon.Particularly so when only 3 out of over 140 freedom fighters incarcerated for life at “Kalapani” only sought mercy repeatedly,I would imagine,because of the pain,misery,loneliness and sustained torture befitting not even animals to undergo at that God- forsaken prison.Those 3 incidentally were the Savarkar brothers and Barin Ghosh.Instead it would be respectful to remember that it was a Mahabir Singh,

a Bihari who had led a hunger strike until death who was a first of sorts in being a true Veer.It is also pertinent to recall that subsequently Savarkar was on a lavish British pension for several decades having assured that he would remain a humble servant of the Queen forever.
So the question that is moot for all patriotic (sic) Indians,to me is do all of these frailties common to man distinguish him to be Veer and to be even considered for a Bharat Ratna.
Because if that be so then millions of freedom fighters would justifiably stake claim to this honorific which fortunately is reserved only for the Bravest of the Brave !🐾

This interpretation is very personal and it is about how I choose to see it .Admittedly,it is beyond the stated purpose (loosely worded)of the Bharat Ratna Award ,

the highest Award in the Republic of India which is, and I quote “in recognition of exceptional service/performance of the highest order for any human endeavour”.This definition,albeit was arrived at after many tweakings up until the second decade of the new millenium which were well – meaning, creative to adjust to new unforeseen requirements in some cases but mostly designed and motivated for political purposes.The several controversies that beleaguered and diluted the importance of the very prestigious award is common knowledge mostly.

Historically speaking the context of immediate post-independent Bharat Ratna awards were based mostly on the contribution of individuals to the freedom movement and nation building.Even then some questionable selections or omissions had been made.Post the Seventies the Congress had lost much of its revolutionary elan and was fast degenerating to a power – loving anti-people,cult promoting new Party – a caricature of its founding objectives and laudable principles.Rajiv Gandhi and many other awardees were both a product and beneficiary of such times.That said – to the original question on “bravery” the changed context needs to be understood.Savarkar is being resurrected on virtues of courage,physical sacrifice and challenge to the oppressing British in which the Cellular Jail

is a powerful symbol.So bravest of the Brave is an attribution made on what you did in the face of the enemy.His wobbly integrity in dire circumstances,unflinching loyalty to the Cause in word and deed,effect on the other prison inmates’morale and camraderie and never-say-die spirit when under fire were questionable merely to seek a release from this “privileged hell-hole”.The stories doing the rounds fabled to have been done – to live and to fight for another day are wide òpen to debate – all this,despite the relaxation to the odious inhuman torture regime extended to him as a for his “mercy petitions and assurances of future good conduct.He at best was, then – a good man whose infatuation with revolutionary terrorism had run its course – a collaborator but a traitor,he perhaps,certainly wasn’t.His ideas were not in sync with the contradictions of diverse masses and the enormous challenge of their integration to make common cause with the freedom struggle and to ideate instead for making of a Hindu India as a mirror – image of a Muslim Pakistan by no stretch visionary or far sighted.Quite the contrary.India with all its limitations had chosen to be a pluralistic,diverse,multi – religious, secular democracy.In short Savarkar ‘ s vision of India was divisive and majoritarian to say the least.The atheist in him mysteriously found the Hindutva spirit sit equally well for perceived goals in the future.

Nevertheless, is the frequent and reflexive Whataboutery of the present rulers in defence an unconscious admission of Savarkar ‘s weaker credentials? Importantly a wrong award in the past is no vindication of a repeat of the same political manipulation,dubious motivations and historical fakery.

There is no gainsaying that the BJP and its RSS cohorts have efficiently exploited the many vulnerabilities of the Congress not to improve upon or correct imperfections,but to – instead,build on such – like weak foundations, a counter-culture of half – truths. It’s propaganda machinery is charged to impose on the popular malleable minds its dishonourable absence during the Freedom struggle to be a conspiracy of motivated historians to be redeemed emphatically with the “rajya-abhishek”(royal coronation) of Savarkar.

The consecration much like the construction of the Ayodhya Temple sadly,shall happen. Perhaps confirming the royal fakery that is afoot putting paid to all the sacrifices that the Brave had done for a nation unborn !

The Bengali Blight

A double whammy of sorts has perhaps caught the Bengali on the wrong foot in recent times.The Abhijit – Esther duo


being awarded the Nobel in Economics and a much loved Saurav becoming the President of BCCI unopposed.
The Bengali is generally an Indian only as an afterthought for he is that unique species undiscovered by Darwin and therefore this windfall of worldwide attention is also equally special.But like everything Bengali this too comes with its fair share of contradictions.Abhijit is fragile cutlery to be handled with care what with his criticism of Modi Babus New India policies.This ambiguity can be traced historically to a large number of Bengalis while being obedient clerks (read babus)under the English a sizeable did not think twice about chucking a bomb or two at the same Gora Sahibs or languish in their youthful prime in the dark interiors of the Cellular jail forever.So this part of the Bengali being double – faced both a rebel and an apparitichik is it true human face to be politically correct that is .

Into this problematic comes our darling Saurav who by common understanding gave a self – confidence to Indian cricket -eminently rare. Coming on the back of a match – fixing scandal with Sachin developing cold feet where leading was concerned Saurav stood tall in principle and practice to take India out of this corrupt hole.No stranger to controversy he took to cricket administration like duck to water.Blessed by Dalmia,wooed by CPI (M),encouraged by Mamata Saurav effectively held his counsel and warded off these advances while being the proverbial “Bhadralok”.He headed Cricket Association of Bengal and always looked higher and further towards Mumbai and BCCI as an ambitious man.Nominated by the Supreme Court to be in the Committee for Administrators it is instructive to remember here that he successfully teamed up with the likes of a Tendulkar and Laxman with Kumble as coach to keep Vinod Rai happy with the arrangement.Until the Kohli-Sashtri combine upstaged this rather fraternal foursome.(Remember a far-sighted or a weak balled Ramachandra Guha had fled the Cuckoo’s Nest quite early.)When a lot of seniors were crying foul at the Kumble (mis)handling including Gavaskar,the shrewd Saurav very early sensed the changing winds and decided to re-set his sails for safety first and speed next.He vigorously defended Kohli’s acts of ommission and commission both on and off the field and smartly skirted his personal differences with Sashtri as coach.In part this could be his own less patronised philosophy of captain in command always l’affaire Greg Chapell that is.In time he vocally also opposed the conflict of interest issue to establish common cause with a lot of former cricketers to which he was an involved party too.
It is perhaps a matter of conjecture that he correctly surmised that the power and authority of a Dhoni or Kohli came from the political upper stories rather than the BCCI.He must have also surmised that Vinod Rai was a limited tool with a specific agenda employed to clear certain annoying impediments or persons in the way of the complete control of these very same superiors.That Cricket was very much a proven business model for money to be made was never lost upon these grab and appropriate political party in power.The palpable entry of political jingoism in the shape of an emblematic glove,camouflage caps in a Test Match and black bands worn by all test players as a token of respect on the demise of a Central Minister and former head of DDCA were confirmations of unseemly political penetrations into the very heart of this very popular game.Ganguly watched silently all of it and perhaps was also sending enough indications of his apolitical pedigree awaiting baptism with the right party.
This journey of cricketing politics of Saurav now culminates with a not so routine visit of his to Amit Shah a day prior to the BCCI elections.And what do we get.He becomes President and Amit Shah ‘s son become Secretary unopposed with Anurag Thakur’s brother in tow.The former heavy weights like a Shukla,Niranjan Shahor a Srinivasan very much there supervising the proceedings and make the coronation happen.
Now cut back to the essential argument of Bengali binaries and ambivalence.Like the Abhijit case being restricted to limited celebrations among the cerebral with some Right Wing sympathisers going to town on his immoral personal life – divorce and abandonment of his first love followed by a second marriage to a White French girl student while pursuing research on left -leaning subjects to denigrate a strong nationalist Indian Prime Minister the same Bengali community perhaps in larger numbers or almost unanimously see Saurav ‘s climb to the top to be in no conflict with principle or professionalism that got him there.Particularly when the new East India Company with its HQ’S in Delhi is looking for an entry and a popular face to lead it’s charge in Bengal elections sometime late next year during which period Saurav should have demitted office going by the current rules in force for BCCI.
Many who know and are not easily swayed by isolated acts had opined that Dhoni’s gloves issue was much ado about nothing.The double – faced Bengali is secretly wishing Saurav and the BJP would make a great team for Bengal while the cringing and fawning Babu in him is running scared and confused undecided on the future of their fiery Didi who till yesterday ,perhaps even still loved had liberated their dear land from the hands of the lumpen-left.The famed Revolutionaries have since become as rare as the Dacca muslin-cloth to save the Bengalis from any furher dilemmas ,thankfully.
So will Saurav set all of these conjectures aside as idle banter or will he chose to be the quintessential Mumbaikar professionally and commercially savvy for principles to make way for prudence or practicality?To say that he will withstand the definite interference and interventions of the Big Two to be his own man would be madly Bengali in substance but highly unlikely.

The Bengali will be in the crosshairs of such and more sustained and critical questioning in the future.And in its answers or denouement will the reputation and character of the janus-faced Bengali be determined.
I write as a Bengali who is disturbed by the marked ambivalence in today’s politics in Bengal in general and of an uncritical,narrow minded,chauvinistic Saurav fan following in particular.