Karpoori Thakur: Well-deserved Bharat Ratna for socialist stalwart - The Tribune India

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Karpoori Thakur

Well-deserved Bharat Ratna for socialist stalwart

Karpoori Thakur

Bihar Chief Minister Karpoori Thakur - PTI file photo

SOCIALIST icon and former Bihar Chief Minister Karpoori Thakur has been chosen for the Bharat Ratna, and deservedly so. What makes the honour all the more special is that it was announced on the eve of his birth centenary, even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid a glowing tribute to the backward-caste leader in a special article. The PM wrote that Thakur’s relentless pursuit of social justice had made a positive impact on people’s lives. Popularly known as Jan Nayak (hero of the masses), Thakur came into the limelight in 1967 when he became the Deputy CM and Education Minister in Bihar’s first non-Congress government. He carried out a major reform by doing away with English as a compulsory subject in schools. Thakur’s path-breaking move was aimed at helping the majority of the students, particularly from underprivileged sections, who were not proficient in English.

Rising from the humble Nai Samaj (barber community), Thakur went on to serve as the CM twice in the 1970s, though he never had a full five-year term. Despite his short tenures, he made a lasting impact with his pro-people decisions and unblemished governance. It was during his term (1977-78) that reservation for backward classes was introduced as per the recommendations of the Mungeri Lal Commission. There were protests across Bihar against the OBC quota, but Thakur stood firm as he had the courage of his convictions.

The country’s highest civilian award has been bestowed on him nearly 36 years after his death. It is not uncommon for the Bharat Ratna to be given posthumously, and that too decades after the recipient’s demise. The Opposition’s criticism of the government over honouring Thakur in the election year, presumably with an eye on OBC votes, is pure politics. The ensuing tussle over the socialist leader’s legacy is expected. Thakur’s lifelong struggle against social discrimination and inequality should be an inspiration for all political parties, irrespective of their contrasting ideologies. 

#Bharat #Bharat Ratna #Bihar #Narendra Modi

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