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Jewel of India

godmen, celeb-icon in fray

Come January 26, and the nation’s eyes are on who is likely to be awarded the next Bharat Ratna. Ideally, it should be given to a national icon who is also known globally. This year, the three individuals at the forefront include Jaggi Vasudev, the spiritual mystic, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, the ‘Art of Living’ yogic-humanitarian, and Amitabh Bachchan, the powerful icon of both the big and small screens. Vasudev’s credentials for the award lie in his energetic pursuit to link the country’s rivers so that there is no water shortage across the country. Ravi Shankar, say his supporters, has re-energised the Ram Mandir project in Ayodhya. And Bachchan, of course, has done several things, the latest being his efforts to provide loans to needy and poor farmers. But, as past experiences have shown, the Bharat Ratna goes to the person who went beyond his or her known efforts, an individual whose achievements lie beyond her or his works. In the current political dispensation, the award may also possibly go to someone who is a vote-catcher, a puller of masses, given the fact that the national elections will be held in May 2019. In the past, in several appointments, be it chief ministers or civil servants, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has sprung several surprises. This time too, the usual aspirants for Bharat Ratna may find themselves overlooked.

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