Karpoori Thakur, Architect of Social Justice, Posthumously Awarded Bharat Ratna for Pioneering Reforms in Bihar

President’s Proposal

In a historic announcement, the former Chief Minister of Bihar, Karpoori Thakur, is set to be posthumously conferred with India’s highest civilian honor, the Bharat Ratna. The decision, made by the President, pays tribute to Thakur’s unparalleled dedication to social justice and transformative policies that uplifted the backward classes in Bihar during his tenure from 1977 to 1979.

“The President has been pleased to award Bharat Ratna to Shri Karpoori Thakur (posthumously)”

~A one line release from Rashtrapati Bhavan

Thakur, a prominent socialist icon hailing from the Nai (barber) community, rose from humble beginnings in Pitaunjhia village, now known as Karpoorii Gram, to become a powerful force in Bihar’s political landscape. His legacy is deeply rooted in the principles of social equality and the empowerment of marginalized communities.

Who is Karpoori Thakur?

A trailblazer in the realm of reservation policies, Thakur implemented the recommendations of the Mungeri Lal Commission, introducing the groundbreaking “Karpoori Thakur Formula” for reservation. This formula, implemented in November 1978, allocated 26 per cent reservation for backward classes in Bihar, setting the stage for later national initiatives such as the Mandal Commission in the 1990s. Thakur’s visionary approach not only empowered the backward classes but also laid the foundation for the emergence of regional parties that reshaped the political landscape of the Hindi heartland.

Karpoori Thakur

Thakur’s commitment to education reform was equally impactful. As an education minister, he abolished the compulsory status of English at the matriculation level, recognizing it as a barrier for many students in competitive examinations. Additionally, he established numerous schools and colleges, especially in backward areas, and made education up to Class 8 free, significantly reducing dropout rates. Thakur’s multifaceted approach to education aimed to break down barriers and provide equal opportunities for all.

“I am delighted that the Government of India has decided to confer the Bharat Ratna on the beacon of social justice, the great Jan Nayak Karpoori Thakur Ji and that too at a time when we are marking his birth centenary. This prestigious recognition is a testament to his enduring efforts as a champion for the marginalized and a stalwart of equality and empowerment. His unwavering commitment to uplift the downtrodden and his visionary leadership have left an indelible mark on India’s socio-political fabric. This award not only honours his remarkable contributions but also inspires us to continue his mission of creating a more just and equitable society.”

~Prime Minister Narendra Modi posted on X

Beyond educational reforms, Karpoori Thakur initiated sweeping land reforms, leading to the redistribution of land from Zamindars to landless Dalits. This earned him the title “Jannayak” or People’s Hero, showcasing his resilience in the face of resistance from the privileged class. Thakur’s policies not only addressed economic disparities but also set a precedent for future leaders to champion the cause of social justice.

Karpoori Thakur Legacy

The posthumous recognition of Karpoori Thakur with the Bharat Ratna is a testament to his enduring impact on Indian society. The award acknowledges his pivotal role in shaping policies that continue to resonate today, emphasizing the importance of inclusive governance and representation for all sections of society.

The announcement has sparked conversations about Thakur’s lasting legacy and the need for continued efforts to address social inequities. The award ceremony, set to take place at Rashtrapati Bhavan, will be a poignant moment for Thakur’s family, supporters, and the people of Bihar who still reap the benefits of his visionary leadership.

As the nation celebrates the posthumous honor bestowed upon this champion of social justice, it serves as a reminder of the power of dedicated leaders to bring about positive and lasting change. Karpoori Thakur’s Bharat Ratna is not just a recognition of past achievements but a call to action for current and future leaders to carry forward the torch of inclusivity, equality, and justice in the diverse tapestry of India.

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