NEW DELHI, Jan 25 � In what is being perceived as a major let-down, Dr Bhupen Hazarika has been nominated posthumously for the Padma Vibhusan Award despite a growing demand for the Bharat Ratna to the legendary singer and composer. The Padma Vibhushan is awarded for exceptional and distinguished service.
Dr Hazarika is among seven whose names have been nominated for the Padma Vibhusan, according to an announcement by the Ministry of Home Affairs on the eve of the Republic Day celebrations. Padma Awards, the country�s highest civilian awards, are conferred in three categories�Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan and Padma Shri.
The awards are conferred by the President of India at a function held at Rashtrapati Bhawan sometime around March-April. This year the President has approved of 109 awards including one duo case (counted as one) and 14 in the category of Foreigners and NRIs and Posthumous. This year, there are five Padma Vibhushans, 27 Padma Bhushans and 77 Padma Shri awards. There are 19 women among the awardees, an official declaration said.
The balladeer and prominent cartoonist Mario De Miranda have been nominated posthumously. Dr Hazarika was the recipient of the Padma Shri (1977) and the Padma Bhusan (2001).
This year, none from the North-east has been nominated for the Padma Bhusan Award, while Sunil Janah of Assam has been nominated for the Padma Shri in the category of Art and Photography. Dr Ralte L Thanmawia of Mizoram has been nominated for the Padma Shri in the category of literature and education.
Meanwhile, notwithstanding pressure on the UPA-II Government to honour Dr Hazarika with the coveted Bharat Ratna, the Centre chose to ignore it. The list of those seeking the highest civilian award of the country is long and quite a few influential names figure in it, said sources, adding that names included that of Choudhury Charan Singh, Sachin Tendulkar, Dhyan Chand, Olympic gold medallist Abhinav Bhindra among others.
Others who also desire the award include popular actor Amitabh Bachchan. Further, names of Mirza Ghalib and Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyaya have also been in circulation for the Bharat Ratna.
Supporting the case of the Dada Saheb Phalke awardee was Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi who personally took the matter with the Prime Minister following huge public demand. The matter was also raised in the Parliament and the North East MPs� Forum twice passed a resolution recommending the singer�s name for the highest civilian honour.
Reacting to the development, Kumar Deepak Das, who was among the first to raise the matter in Parliament, described it as most unfortunate. Just because he was from Assam, he was deprived of the highest civilian award.
The Prime Minister is a Rajya Sabha MP from Assam but in this case he has failed to honour the sentiment of the people of the State he represents, Das added.
General secretary of NEMPF Biren Baishya, who had called on the Prime Minister and submitted a petition along with chairman Mukut Mithi, said he is still hopeful.
Meanwhile, Khamliana from Mizoram and Md Abdul Bari of Odisha have been jointly selected for the National Communal Harmony Award for the year 2011 in the individual category.
Khamliana, 56, is the founder president of Mizoram Youth Club established in 1990. The Club is a well-known voluntary organisation rendering social service and strengthening national integration in Mizoram.