Mumbai : After much controversy, the prestigious ‘Maharashtra Bhushan’ award was conferred on historian Balwant Moreshwar alias Babasaheb Purandare on his 94th birthday here at a simple yet spectacular ceremony at Raj Bhavan.
After receiving the award, Purandare said, “History is sacred and it should never be disrespected.” He also announced that he would add his own Rs 15 lakh to the award amount and donate Rs 25 lakh to the Dinanath Mangeshkar Hospital in Pune for the treatment of poor cancer patients.
Purandare also said that he would like to help farmers reeling under severe financial distress in the drought-hit Marathwada region. In a short but impactful speech, Purandare described his journey as a historian. “I wrote nine serious articles for a famous magazine. But, there was no response from the people. I wanted that the life of Shivaji to be known to everybody. Hence I adopted the ‘shahiri’ style. Inspired by the ‘Jnyaneshwari’, I tried to put historical facts in simple, commonly used, words. It requires more effort to write this way,” he said.
The award ceremony was held amidst tight security after the row over the government’s decision. The ceremony was attended by Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, Shiv Sena MPs Arvind Sawant and Sanjay Raut, state cultural affairs minister Vinod Tawde and industries minister Subhash Desai, among other dignitaries.
Using the opportunity to take a dig at the opposition, Fadnavis said that those who have been protesting against the government’s decision have not understood Chhatrapati Shivaji.
“I’ve to clarify that this programme was not held at Raj Bhavan because we got scared of anybody. According to tradition, the country’s biggest awards are given by the President at the Rashtrapati Bhavan. Similarly, since this was the state’s biggest award, we decided to hold it here,” he said. Fadnavis said the state government would provide financial support to those who make movies focusing on Shivaji’s work as a “management guru”.
HC turns down plea to withdraw award
The Bombay HC today rejected a petition seeking a direction to the state go ernment to withdraw its decision to confer the ‘Maharashtra Bhushan’ award on Babasaheb Purandare. While rejecting the plea, the court also imposed a penalty of Rs 10,000 on the petitioner. A bench of justices Naresh Patil and S B Shukare said in the order that the government’s decision fulfils all the criteria necessary for the award.