New Delhi, Feb 18: The search committee for Republic Dayhonours this year, consisting ofbureaucrats, found legendary thespian Dilip Kumar and megastar Amitabh Bachchan unfit for padmaVibhushan,the country's highest civilian honour, reports Delhi newspaper Mail Today.
For the record, Dilip Kumar was conferred Pakistan's highest civilian honour Nishan-e-Imtiaz way back in 1997, and Big B was given France's highest civilian honour Legion d'Honneur in 2007, which the babus possibly overlooked.
The report said, the two megastars were among 37 candidates 'considered' by a 17-member search committee for the Padma awards 2012, the ministry of home affairs (MHA) revealed while replying to a query made by activist Subhash Chandra Agrawal under the RTI Act.
But Dilip Kumar and Amitabh Bachchan did not figure in the 20-name shortlist that was finally recommended by the panel to the awards committee of the government.
Both Dilip Kumar and Amitabh Bachchan received the Padma Bhushan in 1991 and 2001, respectively. MHA rule says at least five years must elapse for the next honour to be conferred.
Ace cartoonist Mario Miranda and Assam'slegendary singer Bhupen Hazarika were among the five prominent personalities whobagged the Padma Vibhushan this time though the award was conferred posthumously on the two.
Earlier recipients of the honour include Planning Commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia, former National Security Adviser Brajesh Mishra (both got it in 2011), ex-CEO ofShipping Corporation of India Chandrika Prasad Srivastava (2009) and J&K governor N.N. Vohra (2007).
While these eminent officials and gentlemen were thought to deserve the prestigious award, two of the greatest Indian actors have been astoundingly not found worthy of the Padma Vibhushan which is given for 'exceptional and distinguished service'.
The primary task of the search committee is to propose the names of top achievers to the government so that deserving individuals are not denied the opportunity of a Padma award in the
absence of their being recommended from any other quarter.
MHA rules for the Padma awards stipulate that a higher honour - in this case, the Padma Vibhushan - can be bestowed on a personality after a period of at least five years has elapsed since the conferment of the earlier Padma award.
'However, in highly deserving cases, a relaxation can be made by the awards committee,' the norms specify. By this yardstick, thespian Kumar and Big B were more than eligible for the PadmaVibhushan since they had received the Padma Bhushan well over five years ago.
But it remains a mystery why the search panel thought otherwise. In the RTI reply, the MHA said no minutes of the meetings of the search committee had been prepared though the panel met twice, on October 27 and November 11, to finalise its recommendations.
The search committee is headed by the secretary (border management) in the home ministry, A.E. Ahmed, and 16 other top bureaucrats from various ministries.
In the opinion of these wise officials, the 89-year-old Kumar - on whom Pakistan conferred its highest civilian award, the Nishan- e-Imtiyaz, way back in 1997 - was not good enough to bag a Padma Vibhushan.
Bachchan - currently recuperating from a surgery and likely to go under the knife again - was conferred France's highest civilian honour, the Legion d'Honneur, in 2007. Astoundingly,he also failed to impress the bureaucrats.
Rituparno Ghosh, Muzzafar Ali, Anu Malik, Shaimak Davar Sanjeev Kapoor (chef), Ramesh Sippy, Jwala Gutta, Venugopal Dhoot, Rakesh Bharti Mittal and Jai Prakash Gaur also failed to make the list.