Tanzania: Of Nobel Prizes, Bharat Ratna and Maza Teresa…


THE festive season this time round is still simmering in Christendom and elsewhere on Planet Earth this side of Heaven.

It is one of the few periods in the year that people carouse and wassail in the name of celebrating the holiest of nativities: the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ. Perhaps what is most unfortunate about this is that the festivities have in the past almost invariably led to mourning.

More often than not, the mourning has come about as a result of drunken brawls, property theft or damage, road carnage that is largely associated with drunken driving and/or over-speeding, increased criminal activity that really has nothing to do with the birth of Jesus The Christ, etc., etc.

All that’s despite the relevant authorities having put in place regulatory frameworks which govern the use of public roads and vehicular transport – motorised and non-motorised alike, including pedal cycles, animal-drawn carts, hand/push carts, etc.).

This is with the noble view of ensuring road transport safely for one and all, including motorists, motor and pedal cyclists, passengers and pedestrians alike- especially jaywalkers and jay-drivers, mostly ‘Boda-boda’ motorcycle operators…

Talking of ‘over-speeding,’ the 37thUS President (1969-74), Richard ‘Tricky Dick’ Milhous Nixon (1913-94), signed a Congressional Bill on a date like today’s (January 2) in 1974 limiting the road motor vehicle speed to 55MPH maximum.

But, this wasn’t to minimize over-speeding risks – and the tragic results associated with that.

The underlying and overriding objective was “to conserve gasoline (petrol) during the international oil embargo by OPEC.”

‘Laboratorily’-speaking, a car engine uses more fuel to operate faster, thereby forcing the road wheels rotate faster -thereby raising the car’s road speed.

The reverse is equally logical… And you can reduce fuel consumption, wear and tear of moving parts (including engine pistons, transmission systems and road tyres) by simply dictating a cut in permissible road speed by presidential fiat …

The Nixonian decree on road speed limit came about in the wake of the ‘Yom Kippur War’ – also known as the ‘Ramadan War,’ the ‘October War,’ or the ‘1973 Arab-Israeli War’ (October 6-to-25, 1973).

As a result of the US and other ‘Western powers’ having supported Israel in that War, the OPEC members imposed an oil embargo upon the world… But, that’s another story…

The story here today is about the Civilian Awards of the Government of India, a country known in Hindi as ‘Bhārat Gaṇarājya,’ ‘Jumhūriyat Bhārat,’ and ‘Bharata Mata:’ Mother India…

For, it was on a day like today’s some 64 years ago (on January 2, 1954, to be exact) that the Indian Government established two of its highest Civilian Awards, the ‘Bharat Ratna’ and the ‘Padma Vibhushan.’

‘Bharat Ratna’ – ‘Jewel’ or ‘Gem of India’ in Hindi – is the highest Indian Civilian Award that was initially bestowed upon people (without distinction of race, gender, occupation or position) who “have given the highest level of service in Artistic, Literary or Scientific and Public Service achievements.”

In December 2011, the Award was expanded to include “any field of human endeavour,” including in Sports and Mother Teresa-type dedication to Humanity.

In a sense, one could safely say that, in doing this, the Indian Government took a leaf out of the book of the Swedish scientist, inventor (of dynamite), businessman (‘Bofors’ armaments manufacturer/dealer), and philanthropist Alfred Bernhard Nobel (1833-1896) on the ‘Nobel Prizes,’ first established in 1895 for Chemistry, Literature, Peace, Physics, and Physiology or Medicine.

I mean: here was the founder of the world-famous Nobel Prizes – and over there is the founder of the not-so-famous ‘Bharat Ratna’ and ‘Padma Vibhushan’ Prizes. The one is an individual; the other is the Government of a nation-state…

Interesting? You can say that again!

But what I know is that Mother Teresa (born Anjezë Gonxhe Bojaxhiu in Macedonia on August 26, 1910; died in Calcutta, India, on September 5, 1997; Beatified by Pope John Paul-II in Vatican City on October 19, 2003, and Canonised at the same venue by Pope Francis on September 14, 2016) was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979.

The Indian Government just as soon rushed in where Angels fear to tread, bestowing the Bharat Ratna Award upon our Mama Teresa in 1980!

Sheesh, I don’t know… But it’s all in the public domain. You just have to Google for it – and it comes out BWELELE…

Oh… I nearly forgot the 1986 ‘Bofors Guns Scandal.’ Swedish-Radio alleged that Bofors-AB bribed top Indian politicians and key defence officials with some US$8.57m to seal US$285m contract for the supply of 410 155mm field howitzers to India.

Reportedly, the scandal contributed to the defeat of the Rajiv Gandhi Government in the 1989 elections… [Google for ‘The Bofors Story, 25 Years After… ‘].

So, it doesn’t only happen in Africa… Cheers!

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Publish date : 2019-01-02 12:08:33

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