Every Republic Day has a certain things in common - watch the RD parade for a while on TV, watch "Gandhi", the movie, on some channel or the other, look at the list of Padma award winners and crib. This year, the crib started a day before RD because a friend called and asked if Romulus Whitaker has got any padma award. The answer unfortunately is no.
Awards are given to many deserving people, for sure. However the lapses - those of commission and of omission - are points for discussion and cribbing. This year, I was really happy to see the name of - Sheldon Pollock a very deserving recipient indeed. He is scholar of classical studies who is passionate about classical studies in India. My introduction to his name was fairly recent - through a very interesting article by him in The Hindu. There are of course people like Arundhati Nag who richly deserve it too.
The name in this year’s list that amused me was that of Resul Pookutty. I do not have an opinion on whether he deserves it or not. But, I do believe that he got the award because he got the Oscar. If not his existence itself would not even be known to the powers that be who decide on such matters is my guess. This comment does not take anything away from Resul I hope.
My problem is more with the names such as Aamir Khan and Sehwag. I am an admirer of Aamir Khan in general. His movies are good and he seems to be a good human being with social concerns and has done his bit about them. But does someone who promotes coloured aerated water deserve such an award, is my question. I know at least a few people who believe that he does not. If that is the case, one can imagine Indra Nooyi getting a Padma Vibhushan was just too much to swallow! I have already written about that here.
Now, coming to the other question - about Rom Whitaker; He has done more for Indian snakes and Gharials than anyone else. He richly deserves far more recognition than he has got. Or do environment and ecology not deserve such concern? When thinking about Rom, I could not help thinking of Valmik Thapar, Fateh Singh Rathore and Ullas Karanth. These naturalists, to find a common name, deserve the award, even perhaps more than some who have got it this year and before!
Giving them an award like that will serve an important purpose other than recognising their work and contributions. The matters are at least forced on the consciousness of people at large and hopefully something good will happen for the besieged environment.
I only hope that one day soon the actors against whom there are prima facie cases of killing black bucks!