IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


25th January, 2024 Polity


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Picture Courtesy: www.bbc.com

Context: The posthumous award of the Bharat Ratna, India's highest civilian honour, to former Chief Minister of Bihar, Karpoori Thakur, marks a significant recognition of his contributions to social justice and equality.

Karpoori Thakur

  • Karpoori Thakur, also known as "Jan Nayak" ("People's Hero"), emerged as a powerful voice for the underprivileged communities of Bihar.
  • Born into a family facing social discrimination, he witnessed firsthand the struggles of marginalized groups like the Dalits, Other Backward Classes (OBCs), and women.
  • His political career was driven by a relentless pursuit of equality and empowerment for these communities.
  • Thakur's commitment to social justice extended beyond policy changes. He led by example, rejecting privileges associated with his position and choosing a simple life that resonated with ordinary people. This authenticity added immense weight to his advocacy efforts.

Thakur's legacy is marked by impactful initiatives

  • Mandal Commission Implementation: As Chief Minister, he implemented the Mandal Commission recommendations, reserving 26% of government jobs for OBCs. This landmark decision addressed historical inequalities and opened doors for social mobility.
  • Education Access: He championed education for girls and women, establishing numerous schools and scholarships. This focus on inclusivity empowered disadvantaged populations.
  • Land Reforms and Rural Development: His emphasis on land reforms aimed to dismantle feudal structures and improve the lives of agricultural workers. Rural development initiatives further bolstered social and economic well-being.
  • Empowerment Programs: Thakur instituted minimum wage laws and banned bonded labour, directly addressing exploitation and promoting dignified livelihoods.

Bharat Ratna

  • The Bharat Ratna is the highest civilian award of the Republic of India. Instituted on January 2, 1954, the award is conferred in recognition of exceptional service towards the advancement of art, literature, science, and public service. The Bharat Ratna, which translates to "Jewel of India" in English, is awarded by the President of India.

Key Features

  • The Bharat Ratna is awarded to individuals who have made significant contributions in various fields, including arts, literature, science, public service, and social work.
  • The Bharat Ratna is not bound by any specific criteria, and there are no formal recommendations or nominations for the award. The decision to confer the Bharat Ratna is made by the Prime Minister and the President of India.
  • The award has been presented to a diverse group of individuals, including scientists, writers, social activists, and political leaders. Recipients come from various backgrounds and have made exceptional contributions to their respective fields.
  • The Bharat Ratna can be awarded posthumously, recognizing the contributions of individuals who have passed away.
  • The Bharat Ratna is presented in a ceremony held at the Rashtrapati Bhavan (the Presidential Palace) in New Delhi. The awardee receives a certificate of honour, a medallion, and a small monetary grant.


Q. Which of the following statements BEST describes the evolution of the Bharat Ratna's field eligibility over time?

A) Initially restricted to intellectual pursuits, it gradually embraced practical fields like medicine and engineering.

B) Encompassing traditional domains like arts and science initially, it later shifted towards recognizing social activism.

C) Originally conceived as a reward for individual achievements, it later recognized exceptional contributions by organizations.

D) Starting with a focus on national contributions, it expanded to include those with significant global impact.

Answer: B

Explanation: While initially focused on arts, literature, and science, the Bharat Ratna later incorporated areas like public service and social work, recognizing contributions towards social upliftment and equality.