Dr Binoy Shanker Prasad : A day after pran pratishtha at Ayodhya, PM Modi springs a surprise on the people of India, particularly on the Biharis: His government has announced the highest civilian award of the nation to Karpoori Thakur, the former Chief Minister of Bihar.
The Biharis who had their formative academic years spent in Bihar where they witnessed phenomena like “pass without English (PWE)” or “Karpoori Division,” and later the reservation system would tell their own side of the story.
Personal integrity or incorruptibility of Karpoori Thakur was relatively way above the politicians of today, no question. He could connect and identify with the poor and disadvantaged. However, in order to fulfil his political ambition, he committed a number of blunders that left Bihar generations behind. Biharis are still licking their wounds caused by a rapid deterioration in the standards of education. The distorted concept of the reservation system in education and govt jobs introduced first during the Karpoori period accelerated brain drain from Bihar. Investors kept their distance. Sadly, Karpoori Thakur himself along with the Extremely Backward Caste/Class to which he belonged became the victims of the politics of the Reservation (Quota) System. The dominant Other Backward Castes (OBCs) perpetually kept the EBCs, the Scheduled Castes/Tribes under their heels. Bihar sank together with the OBCs/EBCs and the rest. The province never recovered from the sky-rocketing corruption and degenerating law and order.
Bihar ranks among the lowest of all the states of India today.
A reminder: PM Modi’s government has in the past conferred the award of Padma Vibhushan (perhaps, the second highest national civilian award) on a politician like Sharad Pawar. A former CM of Maharashtra and a powerful political center known for his questionable public integrity, there’s always a possibility of Sharad Pawar’s political party doing politics with Modi’s BJP. To the embarrassment of many, Narendra Modi also once touched the feet of Sharad Pawar on the stage at a public function.
The motive behind conferring Bharat Ratna on Karpoori Thakur — bringing him at par with other legendaries from Bihar like Dr Rajendra Prasad, the former two-term President of India and Jayaprakash Narayan (JP), an iconic freedom fighter cum statesman of India — could well be understood.
In this day and age, it’s not shocking: Even the standards of the Nobel Peace Prize were also levelled to the ground when personalities like Henry Kissinger and Yasser Arafat were given this award.