Bharat Ratna 2024: Here's How Aware Millennials And Gen Z Are About The Highest Civilian Honour

Bharat Ratna 2024: Here's How Aware Millennials And Gen Z Are About The Highest Civilian Honour

The prestigious Bharat Ratna stands as a testament to India’s rich tapestry of talent, resilience and diversity

Jaba ShahUpdated: Sunday, February 18, 2024, 02:27 AM IST
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Ask any millennial or Gen Z what the Filmfare, Grammy’s or Oscar award is and pat will come a reply, all with details and the latest recommendations for songs or movies and who the past and present winners of the awards are. On the flip side, ask them what the Bharat Ratna is and a majority come back with vague answers like “Is it some award given to freedom fighters?” or “Army jawans who have lost their lives get this award… or it is some award given to musicians and sports people.

When asked what the Bharat Ratna award is and to whom it is given, a Boomer, Ashwin Kaur (born in 1967), says, “It is some award given to people in India who have done some great stuff?” When asked if he could name who has been given the Bharat Ratna, he said, “In all honesty, I have no idea. Logic tells me Sachin Tendulkar and Virat Kohli may have got it.” When pointed out that while he is right about Tendulkar having received the award but not Kohli, Kaur sheepishly adds, “Tendulkar was a guess. There is a lack of awareness of these awards. Maybe the government should put up hoardings to educate people like me.”

Shibanii, a millennial, born in 1988, says, “I have no idea. Wait, let me Google it.” When asked if she knew who Charan Singh was, she laughed and added, “Is he some paanwala?”

Unfortunately, this generation has little to no clue about this prestigious award, which was instituted on January 2, 1954. This is the highest civilian award conferred on people in recognition of “exceptional service/performance of the highest order without distinction of race, occupation, position or gender”.

The latest recipient of the Bharat Ratna are two former Prime Ministers of India, the late Chowdhary Charan Singh, for his contribution to farmers and their cause, and late Narsimha Rao for his pivotal role in shaping the country’s economy.

Another Gen Z, Veena Kohli (name changed), says, “I am not sure what this award is but I think it is given to people who have contributed significantly to India.” When asked why she does not know about the significance of the award, she shares, “I guess because it is not in the limelight. If there were many Instagram reels on it then people would start to know about it. Who reads the paper or news? Almost no one, then how are we to know?” She says that maybe when she was in school, which was eons ago, this may have been one of the topics but then who would remember that after so many years, she quips.

“Instead of social media posts on Narendra Modi and Ram Mandir, if the government put up reels on such awards, which I am sure are more than one, then the public would take more interest,” she opines.

Surprisingly, Bhumii S, who lives in London, seemed to be the only one who knew what this award was and to whom it is conferred. However, when asked if she could name a few of the past recipients, she too drew a blank. “I Googled the recipients and I don’t understand why this award is given to dead people when there are so many people here and alive who are doing so much good work and deserve recognition. Maybe the government should think about it,” she shares.

Bhumii is a millennial (born in 1980) and probably among the handful of them who knows what this award signifies. Most people know that it is some “big award” given to “famous Indians” but almost none of them could say for certain what it signifies, let alone recall who the past winners are.

The Bharat Ratna stands as a testament to India’s rich tapestry of talent, resilience and diversity. It honours those who have achieved greatness and dedicated their lives to society. Unfortunately, while this award is conspicuous, its winners remain inconspicuous and little is being done to spread awareness of the significance or importance of such awards.

Some facts

First Recipient

The first Bharat Ratna award was awarded to politician C. Rajagopalachari, philosopher Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, and scientist CV Raman in the year 1954.

Oldest Recipient

Dhondo Keshav Karve, popularly known as Maharshi Karve, was the oldest person to receive the Bharat Ratna Award. He was a social reformer and was awarded on his 100th birthday in 1958.

The most youthful Recipient

The youngest Bharat Ratna recipient in India was Sachin Tendulkar who received this award in the year 2014 when he was 40 years old. He is one of the finest Indian cricketers of all time and is considered a legend in the history of Cricket.

Only Industrialist Recipient

Jehangir Ratanji Dadabhoy (JRD) Tata was an Indian aviator, industrialist, entrepreneur and chairman of Tata Group. He is the only industrialist to win the prestigious Bharat Ratna till date. He recieved the award in 1992 for his humanitarian work.

Non-Indian Recipients

While the award is not reserved for only Indians, only two non-Indians have recieved it so far — Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan or Frontier Gandhi of Pakistan in 1987 and Nelson Mandela of South Africa in 1990.

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