From Maulana Azad to Romila Thapar, celebrities who turned down Bharat Ratna and Padma Awards

Bharat Ratna And Padma Award: Bharat Ratna and Padma Award is one of the highest civilian honors of the country. However, there have been or are still some such people in our country who refused to accept such a great honour. The objection of these people was either ideological or it did not match with their thinking system. 

When these awards were started in 1954, Maulana Abdul Kalam Azad first refused to accept the Bharat Ratna. They argued that serving members of the Union Cabinet (or members of the selection committee) were in a position of control and authority and should avoid these temptations.

HN Kunzru also did not receive the Bharat Ratna

Another person who declined the Bharat Ratna was H N Kunzru, who was a member of the State Reorganization Commission (SRC). He opposed the idea of ​​giving awards, honors or titles even in the debates on the constitution. He believed that it would not be appropriate for him to accept the award. Kunzru was the founder of the Indian School of International Studies, which later transformed into Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), and the India International Centre.

However, the Padma Vibhushan was offered to SRC chairman Justice Fazal Ali, which he accepted. Justice Fazal Ali had earlier received the titles of Khan Sahib, Khan Bahadur and Order of the British Empire (OBE). Whereas the third member of the SRC, KM Panicker, was not given any of these honours, but was among the 12 members nominated by the President to the Rajya Sabha for a six-year term.

Bharat Ratna Award posthumously

When the Bharat Ratna and Padma awards were introduced, they were only for living persons. To honor the Bharat Ratna to late Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri, it was decided to confer the award posthumously before the Republic Day of 1966. He died in Tashkent, Uzbekistan just a fortnight ago after the signing of the India-Pakistan peace accord. After this, in 1992, the family of Maulana Abdul Kalam Azad posthumously accepted the Bharat Ratna award.

Why was Bharat Ratna not given to Mahatma Gandhi?

In January 2020, the Supreme Court rejected a PIL seeking Bharat Ratna to Mahatma Gandhi. The apex court said, "He is far above Bharat Ratna. People respect him a lot… What is Bharat Ratna for Mahatma Gandhi?" Let us inform that Gandhi’s birthday is celebrated as the United Nations (UN) International Day of Nonviolence.

These persons declined the Padma award

The first person to refuse the Padma Vibhushan award in 1973 was PN Haksar, Principal Secretary to the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. He believed that he was just doing his duty and it is not proper for him to accept the award for any work done. PN Haksar was recognized for the successful conduct of the Simla Agreement in 1972 and the signing of the Indo-Soviet Friendship and Cooperation Treaty. 

CPI(M) makes Padma Vibhushan distance

The name of Swami Ranganathanand also appears in this list. He also refused to accept the award. He believed that recognition should be given to the Ramakrishna Mission as an institution and not to him as an individual. 

Does receiving an award affect freedom?

In 2011, the family of Lakshmi Chand Jain, a pioneer of the cooperative and handicrafts movement and India’s High Commissioner to South Africa, also refused to accept the posthumous honor of Padma Vibhushan, as Jain was against accepting the state honour. Journalists Nikhil Chakraborty, Virendra Kapoor and academics GS Ghurye and Romila Thapar also declined the awards. All of them believed that accepting the award could affect their freedom. 

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