The Karnataka Government has decided to restrict the number of Rajyotsava awards, to be presented on November 1, to 50 and exercise its prerogative to select deserving persons on its own without adhering to the routine procedures.
It has constituted an award selection committee headed by Chief Minister B. S. Yeddyurappa, who also holds the Kannada and Culture portfolio. The committee comprising Ministers V.S. Acharya, Shobha Karandlaje, Govind Karjol, R. Ashok, and S. Suresh Kumar, the chairpersons of the Kannada Development Authority, Kannada Book Authority, Mukhyamantri Chandru and Siddalingiah, and eight academies, Secretary to the Kannada and Culture B. R. Jayaramaraje Urs and the Director Kannada and Culture Manu Baligar (member-secretary) will hold its preliminary meeting in the first week of October.
Mr. Baligar told The Hindu that the Government had received over 300 applications and recommendations besides over 1,500 requisitions pending with it since 2008. The Government is likely to receive more number of applications and recommendations till the last week of October. The Department of Kannada and Culture would streamline and submit them for the perusal of the committee. The committee would select the candidates purely on the basis of merit, he said.
Asked whether the Government was really serious about restricting the number of awards to 50, Mr. Baligar said that it was left to the discretion of the committee. The order had also made it clear that the Government had a prerogative to identify deserving candidates in all categories through its own machinery and select them to raise the dignity of the awards. The awards carry a purse of Rs. 1 lakh, 20 gm gold, a citation and memento each, he said.
In 2008, the Government restricted the number of awards to 52. But it honoured 90 persons in 24 categories. The selection for Rajyotsava awards had been a challenging task for the Government since 1991.
From 1992 to 2005, allegations were raised about lobbying and political interventions for the awards.
In 1992 the S. Bangarappa Government had created a record by honouring 172 persons. In 2006, the Janata Dal (Secular)-BJP coalition Government restricted number of awards to 50 despite pressure. It had also evolved a policy decision to increase the number of awards by one in each subsequent year. In 2007, selection of 51 awardees was a smooth affair during the President’s Rule.