The President of India, Shri Ram Nath Kovind, presented Bharat Ratna Awards to Shri Nanaji Deshmukh (posthumously), Dr Bhupendra Kumar Hazarika (posthumously) and Shri Pranab Mukherjee at an Investiture Ceremony held at Rashtrapati Bhavan today (August 8, 2019).
Bharat Ratna:Shri Nanaji Deshmukh (Posthumous)
Shri Nanaji Deshmukh was an eminent social activist, who worked in the fields of education, health and rural self-reliance.
Born on October 11, 1916 in the Kadoli village of Marathwada and named Chandika Prasad, he was fondly called Nana by everybody. Though deprived of love and affection of his parents while still an infant, Nana proved to be a genius even in his early days. He was aiming for higher studies but destiny had something else in store for him. In 1939, he left for Pilani in Rajasthan to join Birla College,but the next year, he became a Pracharak of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).
On August 15, 1940, with just Rs. 14 in his pocket, Nanaji was sent to Gorakhpur to start Sangh’s work. Initially, he had to stay in various lodges one after the other. With his amicability, he could make contacts with eminent people there, the likes of Mahant Digvjay Nath, Bhaiji Hanuman Prasad Poddar, founder of Gita Press, Congress leader Baba Raghav Das, etc. With his exceptional ability to excel in adversities, he was able to expand Sangh shakhas rapidly.
After independence, when the Jana Sangh was formed, Nanaji proved his mettle as an organizer and a politician par excellence. Soon, he became the focal point of non- Congress politics. He proved to be an able and inseparable companion of Pandit Deendayal Upadhyay. After Panditji’s untimely death in 1968, he founded Deendayal Research Institute in his memory, through which he initiated an ideological discourse in the country. He was instrumental in mobilizing popular sentiment for the JP movement across the country and became the closest confidant of Loknayak Jai Prakash Narayan. During Emergency, when in jail, he laid the foundation of Janata Party that swept to power in 1977. However, he declined the offer to be a part of the Union Cabinet. Ina year’s time, he announced his decision to leave active politics.
In 1978, Nanaji decided to dedicate his energy and experience in public life for social reconstruction. He decided to spend rest of his life to validate the philosophy of Integral Humanism on ground. Gonda, Beed and Chitrakoot are the shining examples of this resolve. The Chitrakoot Model of rural development is an internationally acclaimed module of social reconstruction, that is measurable, replicable and sustainable. He was awarded Padma Vibhushan for his pioneering service to the nation in 1999. He was a modern day sage who dedicated his life in the service of the nation.
Shri Nanaji Deshmukh passed away on February 27, 2010, and as per his will, his body was bequeathed for medical students.
Bharat Ratna: Dr. Bhupendra Kumar Hazarika (Posthumous)
Dr. Bhupendra Kumar Hazarika was a renowned singer, lyricist, musician, poet and film- maker from Assam.
Born on September 08, 1926, in Sadiya, in the State of Assam, Dr. Hazarika’s beginnings were humble but culturally rich. At a tender age, he learned Assam’s devotional ‘Borgeet’ from his mother. He was also exposed to and touched by the intense diversity of indigenous people of Assam and the Northeast with their rich traditions of folk aesthetics, manners, songs, rhythms, dances, art and food displayed proudly every year during Assam’s popular Bihu festival gatherings. Embodying the unique mélange of syncretic styles, the basis of Assamese culture, he was able to later fuse them with popular urban and semi-classical Indian musical idioms without failing to credit his sources, in words and deeds.
Found to be gifted by age seven, Dr. Hazarika was mentored by Assam’s cultural giants and proponents of Indian culture, such as Jyoti Prasad Agarwala, Bishnu Prasad Rabha and other talented writers, singers, poets, thespians and artists. He acquired a grounding in classical education from Cotton College, Guwahati and Banaras Hindu University. He also got an opportunity to travel abroad for his Doctorate at Columbia University in New York that enabled him to cultivate a global perspective and an eye to model himself into a modern and engaged citizen of the newly independent, secular and democratic republic of India.
Following the exhortations of independent India’s progressive leaders, Dr. Hazarika strove to achieve his true aim to educate Indians about the requisites to liberation from want and denial. Although fluent in Hindi and English, he wrote in Assamese, his mother tongue as his poetic soul ranged far and wide, from the human condition and its dependence on nature, history, politics and economics to eloquence of romance as well as spiritual rapture. Later on, he emerged as a central unifying figure in Assamese culture giving voice, identity and inspiration across the generations. His central message and vision of ‘unity in diversity’ included not only the numerous ethnic groups within Assam and her neighboring border States undergoing difficult transitions in post independent India, but all Indians. As his songs and actions reveal, he was pre-disposed to empathize with the common man and woman’s plight while managing to inspire the educated and elite at the same time. He also wrote articles and made personal contributions to promote peace and to extoll the greatness of a united and multi-cultural India. His doctoral discipline in audio-visual education complimented his love for the film medium. Upon his return to India, he began to write and direct his own feature films and documentaries and later composed music and songs for others’ movies, throughout his life.
In the late 50’s, Dr. Hazarika moved to Kolkata from Guwahati to be close to the major film and music industry studios. By writing and singing songs in Bengali, he emerged to become a household name in the Bengali speaking world including in neighbouring Bangladesh, which honoured him in 2012 with it’s ‘Friends of Liberation War’ honour in recognition of his songs that became anthemic and a rallying cry during their bitter struggle for independence. His songs and vocalizations had touched his audience deeply across every divide. Dr. Hazarika, adoringly known as the ‘Bard of the Brahmaputra’, remains a tremendous source of inspiration for fans of his work.
Dr. Hazarika has received various honours and awards including for the best feature film in Assamese ‘Shakuntala’ directed by him in the 9th National Film Awards (1961); National Award for best. Music Director for film ‘Chameli Memsaab’ at the 23rd National Film Awards(1975); Padma Shri (1977); Gold Medal from the State Government of Arunachal Pradesh for his ‘outstanding contribution towards tribal welfare and upliftment of tribal culture through cinema and music’ (1979); Sangeet Natak Akademi Award (1987); Dadasaheb Phalke Award (1992); Best Music Award for the film ‘Rudali’ (1993); Padma Bhushan (2001); Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowship (2008); Asom Ratna, the highest civilian award in the State of Assam (2009); Padma Vibhushan in 2012 and many others.
Ts Dr. Bhupendra Kumar Hazarika passed away on November 05, 2011.
Bharat Ratna:Shri Pranab Mukherjee
Shri Pranab Mukherjee is an outstanding statesman, who served the Nation in different capacities in his long political career spanning over five decades culminating in his election to the highest office of the country, i.e. the President of the Republic of India. He served as the 13™ President of the Republic of India from 25″ July, 2012 to 24″ July, 2017.
A man of humble origin, Shri Mukherjee was born in the small village of Miratiin Birbhum District of West Bengal as son of freedom fighters, Shri Kamada Kinkar Mukherjee and Smt. Rajlakshmion December 11, 1935.
Shri Mukherjee acquired two Master’s degree in History and Political Science as well as a Bachelor degree in Law from the University of Kolkata. He then embarked on his professional life as a college teacher and journalist. Inspired by his father’s contribution to the national movement, Shri Mukherjee plunged into full time public life in 1969 following his election to the Upper House of Indian Parliament (Rajya Sabha).
Shri Mukherjee is a man of unparalleled experience in governance with the rare distinction of having served at different times as Foreign, Defence, Commerce and Finance Minister of the country. He was elected to the Upper House of the Parliament (Rajya Sabha) five times from 1969 and twice to the Lower House of the Parliament (Lok Sabha) from 2004 and 2009 till 2012 when he became the President. He was a member of the Congress Working Committee, the highest policy making body of the Party for a period of 23 years.
Under the careful mentoring of late Prime Minister Smt. Indira Gandhi, Shri Mukherjee’s rise on the political trajectory was rapid. He was made Deputy Minister of Industrial Development, Shipping and Transport from February, 1973 to October 1974, then Minister of State for Finance during 1974-75 and Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Revenue & Banking during 1975-1977, thereafter serving as the Cabinet Minister of Commerce and Steel and Mines from 1980-1982. He assumed office as the Finance Minister of India for the first time in 1982 and was Leader of the House in the Upper House of Parliament (Rajya Sabha) from 1980 to
Later, he served as Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission from 1991 to 1996 and concurrently as Minister for Commerce from 1993 to 1995 and Minister of External Affairs from 1995 to 1996. He served as the Minister of Defence from 2004 to 2006 and once again Minister of External Affairs from 2006 to 2009. He was the Minister of Finance for the second time from 2009 to 2012 and Leader of the Lower House of Parliament (Lok Sabha) from 2004 to 2012, till he resigned to contest election for the office of the President.
During the period 2004-2012, Shri Mukherjee, as Chairman of over 95 Group of Ministers/Empowered Group of Ministers (GOMs/EGOMs) was instrumental in spearheading critical decisions of the Government on a range of issues such as Administrative Reforms, Right to Information, Right to Employment, Food Security, Energy Security, Information Technology and Telecommunication, setting up of UIDAI, Aadhar etc. In the seventies and eighties, he was instrumental in setting up the Regional Rural Banks (1975) and the EXIM Bank of India as well as NABARD – National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development(198 1-82). He worked tirelessly for expansion in number of the branches in rural areas, as also overseas branches of nationalized banks, particularly in the Gulf region which legally enhanced remittances substantially. Shri Mukherjee also authored the modified formula for resource sharing between the Centre and the States in 1991 for the Five Year Plans which came to be known as the Gadgil – Mukherjee formula.
Ts Shri Mukherjee has extensive diplomatic experience and has served on the Board of Governors of the International Monetary Fund, World Bank, Asian Development Bank and African Development Bank. He has led the Indian delegations to the Commonwealth Finance Ministers’ Conferences in 1982, 1983 and 1984; the United Nations General Assembly – 1994, 1995, 2005,, 2006, 2007 and 2008; the Summit Meeting of the Commonwealth Heads of Government at Auckland in 1995, the Non-Aligned Foreign Minister’s Conference at Cartagena in 1995 and the Meeting to mark the 40th anniversary of the Afro—Asian Conference in Bandung in 1995.
A powerful orator and scholar, Shri Mukherjee’s intellectual and political prowess as well as remarkable knowledge of international relations, financial affairs and parliamentary process are widely admired.
He has been acclaimed for his role as a consensus builder on difficult national issues with his ability to forge unanimity among the diverse political parties that form part of India’s vibrant multi-party democracy.