No, Pt. Nehru did not award himself the Bharat Ratna

Bharat Ratna is India’s highest civilian honour and India’s first and longest-serving prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru has been time and again, accused by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of conferring the Bharat Ratna to himself.

Social media is afloat with theories that Nehru, during his prime ministerial term, nominated himself for the Bharat Ratna award.

Basically, it all started from the point of nomination process of the award. There is no law as such but a convention that it is the prime minister who recommends the names to the president of India, who then accepts those nominations.

It is only a convention and not a law because this process is neither mentioned in the official gazette notification of India dated January 2, 1954, which instituted the Bharat Ratna nor in the additional notification issued on January 15, 1955, to allow the honour to be awarded posthumously.

Now, let’s bust this myth of Nehru awarding the Bharat Ratna to himself.

On July 13, 1955, when Nehru return from a tour of European countries, aimed at the promotion of peace at a time when the Cold War was escalating, the then president Rajendra Prasad went to receive him. Nehru’s these efforts found popular support outside India.

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A special state banquet was hosted by president Prasad at Rashtrapati Bhavan on July 15, 1955 and it was at this event that Prasad announced his decision of awarding the Bharat Ratna to Nehru.

A Times of India report dated July 16, 1955 notes, “The award was kept a close-guarded secret until the banquet. In fact, the President himself confessed that he had acted unconstitutionally as he had decided to confer the honour “without any recommendation or advice from my Prime Minister” or the Cabinet”.

This in itself proves that it was solely Prasad’s decision and Nehru had absolutely no role in the same. It was even more convincing because Prasad and Nehru had ideological differences mainly regarding the role of religion in politics, but the best part is that they never let it come in their way of appreciating each other when they truly deserved it.

This is a thing which the current government and its leaders should learn and implement in their functioning, which otherwise is only aimed at sowing the seeds of hatred in India.

Credit: The Wire

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