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Asian Tribune is published by E-LANKA MEDIA(PVT)Ltd. Vol. 20 No. 105

Some Thoughts On Bharat Ratna Awardees

By S.G.Vombatkere**

It is common knowledge that one's words, especially words spoken in an unguarded moment or a moment of anger or great excitement, reflect one's innermost thoughts. Bharat Ratna awardee Dr. C.N.R.Rao is quoted as having said “... Why the hell these idiots these politicians have given so little for us. Inspite of that we scientists have done something".

Dr.Rao does not claim to be quoted out of context, but maintains that he used the word “idiotic” and not the word “idiot”; clearly economical with truth, because more than one media report has quoted his exact words.

He justifies the word “idiotic” as being parliamentary, going on to clarify that when he says that somebody is doing something idiotic, he is not calling that person an idiot. He claims that he did not speak in anger even though media reports say that “he lost his cool”. But when he says “...why the hell...” it is difficult to believe that he was following it up in sheer fun with “these idiots these politicians ...”.

Dr. Rao has categorized a whole class of people – politicians, in this case – as “idiots”, and in the very next sentence, he says “we scientists have done something” inspite of politicians' giving so little (funds) towards scientific activities, placing scientists in a class apart from politicians. Whether or not one agrees with Dr. Rao's taxonomy, one has to admit that his utterance is unbecoming of a man of his seniority and stature.

Even if he was not Chairman of the Prime Minister's Scientific Advisory Council, Dr.Rao should surely be aware that politicians (“these idiots”, according to him) are responsible for awarding him the Bharat Ratna.

His utterance therefore appears grossly arrogant, that too immediately following his accepting the award of India's highest decoration. Dr. Rao has also said how he is proud to be India's second scientist to be awarded Bharat Ratna after Sir C.V.Raman, when media are saying he is the third, after C.V.Raman and A.P.J.Abdul Kalam. Actually Dr. Rao is correct, since Dr.A.P.J.Abdul Kalam is an engineer, not a scientist, and was awarded only an honorary doctorate rather recently. But Dr .Rao deliberately omitting Dr.A.P.J.Abdul Kalam's name may indicate his sense of superiority as a scientist, and does not speak well for his humility, when everybody agrees that humility is the hallmark of greatness.

India's former ambassador in USA, Ronen Sen, of headless chickens fame, was chastised by politicians, who always take themselves very seriously. It remains to be seen how politicians will handle Dr.Rao's intemperate outburst.

Speaking of Bharat Ratna awardees, one cannot help turning one's attention to Sachin Tendulkar, who was Dr. Rao's co-awardee. An undoubted wonder in the world of cricket, Sachin has made cricket history.

Receiving Bharat Ratna at such a young age and that too as the first sportsperson to do so, is truly remarkable, and Sachin's consistent humility adds to his greatness in cricket. But one cannot help wondering about the propriety of a Bharat Ratna awardee, a (priceless) Jewel of India, continuing to sell his name, pictures and video shots for advertisements of commercial products, as a source of income. Even if the ad does not state that Sachin is a Bharat Ratna, would it be appropriate for Sachin to now act for, or give his name or picture for commercial purposes and receive remuneration for it? Surely politicians in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha would have a view on this subject. One is left to wonder whether they will say anything on this matter, though one can be sure that they will have something to say to Dr .C.N.R.Rao.

Addressing a press conference a day after the award was announced, Rao, who is the chairman of Prime Minister's scientific advisory council, stressed the need for providing more resources for research.

"... for the money that government has given to scientific sector, we have done much more," he retorted, when a reporter asked if he felt that the standard of the scientific research in the country.

"... Why the hell these idiots these politicians have given so little for us. Inspite of that we scientists have done something," Rao said, losing his cool.

Addressing a press conference a day after the award was announced, Rao, who is the chairman of the prime minister’s scientific advisory council, stressed the need for providing more resources for research.
“Why the hell have these idiots (politicians) given so little to us despite what we have done. For the money that the government has given us we have done much more,” he said.

"Why the hell these idiots, these politicians have given so little for us. In spite of that we scientists have done something." "Our investments are marginal, come late. For that money we have got, we have performed. For the money we have been getting it is not bad at all, after all this kind of money is nothing."

Explaining that 'idiotic' is a parliamentary word, Bharat Ratna-designate scientist CNR Rao today denied that he had called the political class 'idiots'."Idiotic is a parliamentary word. It is not a strong word. I did not call anyone idiot. I said we're a bit of idiotic in doing things, that does not mean you call name them idiots," Rao told CNN-IBN in an interview."Somebody quoted me like that. I wasn't cursing anybody. I tell my students don't do idiotic things. Idiotic things is not calling someone an idiot. There's a difference. They made a big deal out of it. I'm not an angry man. I'm a person who wants transformation, reformation not anger. I wanted something to be done, but unfortunately they don't understand it," he said clarifying the controversy that he called the political class idiots during a press conference on Sunday. "Why the hell these idiots these politicians have given so little for us. In spite of that we scientists have done something," Rao had said.Although the scientist clarified the air on the controversy, he also lamented over the lack of adequate funds for research in science and technology. "Look at our budget, hardly nothing, in spite of that we do things here. The government and the industry should contribute to the country. The industry is making profits. They should also give the people something and that profit should be used to for the future of India in the innovation of science and technology. Both together should give 2-2.5 percent of the GDP," Rao said. However, the scientist admitted that the Chinese and South Koreans have much more nationalistic zeal than the Indians besides being much more hard-working.

** Major General S.G. Vombatkere, VSM, retired in 1996 as Additional DG Discipline & Vigilance in Army HQ AG's Branch.

- Asian Tribune -

Some Thoughts On Bharat Ratna Awardees
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