Citizens with impressive track record of doing good in various activities in the cause of making life of people at large free of their life’s woes used to be recognised and honoured with titles appropriate to their field of excellence by the monarchs of the erstwhile Princely State of Mysore. The practice ceased from the time monarchy merged with the democratic dispensation with the dawn of Independence from colonial rule seven decades ago. Mysureans in their advanced age can recollect the names of such titles like Raja Seva Dhureena, Dharma Rathnakara and so on.
The citizens who were thus honoured could proudly prefix these titles to their names and the citizenry took care to accord them importance in public functions, signalling total societal acknowledgement of their esteem. As if to carry on with that now defunct practices, the State Government has introduced Rajyotsava Awards. While the number of citizens bestowed royal recognition in the days past could be counted in single digit, the awardees honoured by the Government of the day in the State are virtually dime-a-dozen, considerably lowering their societal image itself.
In addition to awarding titles to achievers in specific fields of human endeavour, both the royalties and institutions devoted to spiritual pursuits are known to have honoured luminaries in various fields such as literature, music, sports and heroic deeds, particularly in times of threat to the country’s safety and sovereignty.
Honouring citizens nationally and regionally seems to have suffered from the factor of political patronage on many occasions. On one such occasion some years ago one of the awardees in the State happened to be a shamiana contractor creating a feeling of embarrassment for other awardees with societal recognition and adoration of their track record. On a cursory observation of the areas of work in which the awardees have excelled, one gets the gut feeling that two fields, namely, agriculture and ecology, have not been bestowed same level of recognition as many other fields such as literature, sports and arts.
The authority and decision-making for identifying the achievers to be honoured with Rajyotsava Awards, admittedly is exercised by the elected representatives of people in posts of the Government. So far, so good. The too-well-known feature of these same worthies, barring exceptions, amassing wealth carved out of public funds in amounts that are anybody’s guess can be euphemistically called social self-service (!), truly a highly paying pursuit (!!).