Caste list of Bharat Ratna awardees poses questions

The Bharat Rathna Medal given to M. G. Ramachandran. Photo via Wikipedia.

A list of Bharat Ratna recipients which reveals that persons from upper caste communities have received the award the most number of times is gathering attention as it is going viral on Twitter.

The list was tweeted by Dr. B Karthik Navayan, a lawyer in Hyderabad high court and was titled "Let's call it as Brahmin Rathna!". 

The list shows that out of 48 recipients 23 are from Brahmin community and around 34 awardees (66% of the total numbers) belong to upper castes. Muslims come next with 6 recipients including Zakir Hussain, Bismillah Khan and A P J Abdul Kalam.

Only two people from Scheduled Caste were given Bharat Ratna, whereas no one from Scheduled Tribe has received the highest civilian award yet. One Parsi, One OBC and a Christian are also in the list.

Karthik Navayan, the creator of the list said he is not surprised to see the list having Brahmins in the majority. "It is not surprising to see that the list of Bharat Ratna are mostly Brahmins. It only reaffirms the fact that this country is not the place where its citizens are equally represented but a Brahmin Savarna empire," he told DH.


Dr B Karthik Navayan, a lawyer in Hyderabad high court.

"There are reports with verifiable data that shows, Brahmin and their allied Savarna (upper) dominant castes are over-represented in judiciary, administration, IIT, IIM and all central universities of this country," added Karthik, who earned his PhD in Social Exclusion Studies from English and Foreign Languages University (EFLU), Hyderabad.

The list was retweeted by several people including AIMIM chief Asadudin Owaisi and also faced backlash as people questioned the intention of the list and also ridiculed India's reservation policies in replies to the tweet.

On Sunday, Owaisi,  the parliament MP from Hyderabad, posed a question on the Bharat Ratna recipients. "Tell me how many people from Dalit, Adivasi, Muslims, poor, upper caste and Brahmins were given Bharat Ratna?" he asked in a programme in Maharashtra. 

He even told the crowd that the Bharat Ratna award to Ambedkar was not conferred willingly. "The Bharat Ratna to Babasaheb was not given from heart but it was given out of necessity," he said.

Bharat Ratna award this year has kicked off controversies on the selection of recipients and political implications of it. Former President Pranab Mukherjee, Jan Sangh leader Nanaji Deshmukh and Assam singer Bhupen Hazarika were conferred Bharat Ratna on January 25.

People attack the selection of recipient in the election year. Some say the senior Congress leader Pranab was selected due to his closeness to BJP's political mentor RSS. Last year, he had attended an RSS function. Nanaji Deshmukh was an RSS ideologue.

Among these three, both Pranab and Nanaji belong to Brahmin, Hazarika's caste is not available.

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Caste list of Bharat Ratna awardees poses questions

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