Darjeeling 30 May 2016 Darjeeling MP Surendra Singh Ahluwalia has written to the prime minister reminding and urging him to confer the Bharat Ratna to Tenzing Norgay, the most iconic personality of the Darjeeling hills whose 102nd birth anniversary was celebrated on Sunday.
Ahluwalia evoked the prime minister’s speech delivered in Sukna in 2014 where he had said Norgay has been one of the most iconic and inspirational personalities of the nation. And that the climber had been relegated to the background and his immense contribution towards strengthening Indian identity was not recognised as it should be.
The MP’s letter includes part of what Narendra Modi said on April 10, 2014, “In your speech you said the previous government did not bestow honour to Norgay thinking he was just another guide/porter from the hills. You also said the demand of the
|Indian flag that reached the top of Mt. Everest with Tenzing Norgay in Himalayan Mountaineering Institute Darjeeling|
Gorkhas of not only the country but the world over is to award Norgay with the Bharat Ratna.” The Darjeeling MP urged the prime minister to play an instrumental role in ensuring Norgay is conferred the prestigious Bharat Ratna and rectify the indifferent attitude of the previous governments.
Tenzing Norgay and New Zealander Sir Edmund Hillary were the first to set foot on Mount Everest on May 29, 1953, a feat which at that time was unimaginable. It was after this that the central government decided to establish the now famous Himalayan Mountaineering Institute in Darjeeling.
The push to confer Norgay with the Bharat Ratna started 20 years ago but lost steam as sportspersons were outside the purview of this highest civilian award. However, in a landmark change in 2012, the UPA government placed an amended bill and got it passed, thus bringing sports personalities in the ambit of the award. Cricketer Sachin Tendulkar was the first to be conferred the award even though the names of Norgay and hockey legend Dhyan Chand had cropped up as potential recipients.
The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha and the Sherpa community too are demanding the Bharat Ratna for Norgay. The movement gained momentum in 2015 when NASA named the first discovered mountain in Pluto as ‘Norgay Montes’. “I make a plea on behalf of all Gorkhas living in the country that our national hero should be awarded the Bharat Ratna. This will recognise the service, hard work and dedication of the Gorkha community towards the nation,” GJM president Bimal Gurung said in a press statement.
The Gorkhaland Territorial Administration has also written to the Centre seeking to rename Bagdogra airport and National Highway 55 after the legendary climber and to install his statue in Parliament’s premises. NH55 is the primary link joining the hills to the plains.
Norgay has been awarded with the George medal and Coronation medal by the British government, the Iran Shah Medal and the Nepal Tara and Nepal Pratap Vardak awards. The Indian government has honoured Tenzing Norgay (also known as Tiger of the Snows) with the Padma Bhusan.