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1,000 applications received

By S. Rajendran

BANGALORE, OCT. 23. The State Government has received a record 1,000 applications for the Kannada Rajyotsava awards, and the high-level advisory committee headed by the Revenue Minister, M.P. Prakash, has completed the task of screening a large number of the applications.

Sources in the State Secretariat told The Hindu here today that there were many applicants who did not deserve even a minor award leave alone the coveted Rajyotsava Award. They said that this had made the task of selecting the recipients easy, and many applications had been rejected straightaway. At the end of the first sitting of the advisory committee, about 100 persons were short-listed.

There are many eminent personalities from various walks of life who deserve the Rajyotsava Award but have not sent in their applications. The Government has commenced the exercise of identifying such persons and including their names in the list. Government departments and the deputy commissioners of the districts have reportedly been asked to identify deserving persons.

Mr. Prakash told The Hindu that the advisory committee had decided that the number of recipients should be restricted to 60. (During the tenure of S. Bangarappa as the Chief Minister, 172 persons were given Rajyotsava awards, which is a record.)

Members

Among the members of the committee constituted by the Chief Minister, N. Dharam Singh, are noted economist and former Deputy Chairman of the Planning Board, D.M. Nanjundappa; litterateur and former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Mysore, D. Javare Gowda; former MLC Siddalingaiah; the Chairman of the Kannada Development Authority, B.A. Idinabba; and noted painter S.G. Vasudev.

Mr. Prakash said several new categories would be considered and they included wrestling, magic, entrepreneurship, science and vocal and instrumental music. It had been observed that most of the award winners in the sports category were cricketers who had already won many national and international awards. "We will make a beginning in presenting awards to people from various disciplines," he added.

The Minister has made it clear that the selection committee should be only called an advisory committee. It will advise the Government on who would receive the awards, and it is for the Chief Minister to take a final decision.

Since a coalition was ruling the State, it was mentioned that the Chief Minister would get the list vetted by a group of senior Ministers and announce the list on Friday. The Prakash committee would submit the list to the Chief Minister on Tuesday or Wednesday.

Last minute selection

In the past, some of the recipients for the award were selected at the last minute. On one occasion, two persons were chosen at the venue of the award presentation function. Though they were draped with a shawl and garlanded, they had to run from pillar to post to collect the gold medal and the citation. There have been cases of the award recipients themselves writing the citations. Although government servants should not be considered for the award, under the rules, some officials have managed to get themselves short-listed. The Government has also faced embarrassing situations: an award winner, an official of the Union Government was "trapped" by the Central Bureau of Investigation on corruption charges.

It was said that the delay in forming the advisory committee had caused confusion over screening the applications and identifying the persons who had made a significant contribution to their fields but had not sent applications for the award.

Each recipient will be presented with a cash prize of Rs. 10,000, a gold medal, a citation and a shawl. Some persons are interested in winning the award since they will be eligible for allotment of an "out of turn" residential site by the Government in any city or town of their choice. The list of Rajyotsava award winners in the queue for sites crossed the 1,000 mark about two years ago. Some of them already owned land and were ineligible for allotment of sites.

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