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Dharamshala — Shri Shanta Kumar, former Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh and current BJP member of Parliament has appealed the central government to honor His Holiness the Dalai Lama with Bharat Ratna, the country's highest civilian honor.

Noting the Nobel Laureate's significant work for humanity, Kumar said, "the Dalai Lama is spreading the message of peace through Buddhism in the world, and I demand the Government of India to honor the spiritual leader with the Bharat Ratna."

Bharat Ratna is the highest civilian award of India. Originally instituted in 1954, the award is conferred in recognition of exceptional service. Originally limited to achievements in the arts, literature, science, and public services, the government later expanded the criteria to include any field of human endeavor. The recommendations for the Bharat Ratna are made by the Prime Minister to the President.

The MP made his comments during a book launch, held in the Main Temple of His Holiness in Mcleod Ganj. During the launch, the Tibetan leader released three books-- 'Red Shadow on Himalaya' by Kumar, 'If Autumn Comes' by Kumar's wife Santosh Shailza, and 'Self Reliance leader Shanta Kumar' by Hem Raj.