Over the past few days, the government of India has been receiving missives from various political parties, recommending various politicians, who are either dead or retired or soon to retire or in a state of semi-retirement, for the nation's highest civilian honour i.e. the Bharat Ratna.
The Bharatiya Janata Party has recommended Mr. Atal Behari Vajpayee, the Bahujan Samaj Party has recommended the late Mr. Kanshi Ram, the communists are supposed to have been peddling the name of Mr. Jyoti Basu, whereas the Akalis are now supposed to have joined the race with Mr. Parkash Singh Badal as their candidate and the Telugu Desam Party is not far behind with their demand for the award to go to the late Mr. N. T. Rama Rao.
More parties could, possibly, join the fray as the 'race' continues to heat up.
All of this reminds me of the kind of fervour that securing a 'V. I. P.' registration number for their vehicles evokes among people, who used to employ every trick in the book, including getting recommendation letters from 'influential' people, in order to be able to get a number of their choice, until the respective state governments began to openly auction such numbers.
In view of the above, it would probably be best if the central government decides to go for an open auction of the Bharat Ratna, as well. The various political parties can then bid for the award (which would, of course, stop being an honour, thereafter), for a candidate of their choice. This could be a 'win-win' situation for the politicians as well as the ordinary people, since some of the ill-gotten wealth of the politicians can be transferred to the exchequer in this manner and, hopefully, used for the common good, even as the politicians can hope to impress the electorate in a more effective manner in subsequent elections, by citing the instance of the Bharat Ratna having been awarded to one of their party members.
Additionally, the committee that decides upon whom to bestow the Bharat Ratna, at the moment, can then be disbanded and the resources that it has at its disposal can be put to other uses, including finding ways and means for further enhancement of the public image of the party that wins the bid.