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Bharat Ratna

Bharat Ratna

Bharat Ratna ( भारत रत्‍न) is the highest civilian award of the Republic of India. Instituted on 2 January 1954, the award is conferred "in recognition of exceptional service/performance of the highest order", without distinction of race, occupation, position, or sex. The award was originally limited to achievements in the arts, literature, science and public services but the government expanded the criteria to include "any field of human endeavour" in December 2011. Recommendations for the Bharat Ratna are made by the Prime Minister to the President, with a maximum of three nominees being awarded per year. Recipients receive a Sanad (certificate) signed by the President and a peepal-leaf–shaped medallion; there is no monetary grant associated with the award. Bharat Ratna recipients rank seventh in theIndian order of precedence, but are constitutionally prohibited from using the award name as a title.

The first recipients of the Bharat Ratna were politician C. Rajagopalachari, scientist C. V. Raman and philosopher Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, who were honoured in 1954. Since then, the award has been bestowed on 43 individuals including 11 who were awarded posthumously. The original statutes did not provide for posthumous awards but were amended in January 1955 to permit them. In 1966, former Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri became the first individual to be honoured posthumously. In 2013, cricketerSachin Tendulkar, aged 40, became the youngest recipient while social reformer Dhondo Keshav Karve was awarded on his 100th birthday. Though usually conferred on Indian citizens, the Bharat Ratna has been awarded to one naturalised citizen, Mother Teresa in 1980, and to two non-Indians, Pakistan national Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan in 1987 and former South African President Nelson Mandela in 1990. Most recently, Indian government has announced the award to former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and freedom fighter Madan Mohan Malviya (posthumously) on 24 December 2014.

The Bharat Ratna, along with other personal civil honours, was briefly suspended from July 1977 to January 1980 during the change in the national government and for a second time from August 1992 to December 1995 when several public-interest litigations challenged the constitutional validity of the awards. In 1992, the government's decision to confer the award posthumously on Subhash Chandra Bose met with controversy. Due to the debate surrounding Bose's death, the "posthumous" mention of Bose was much criticised, and his family refused to accept the award. Following a 1997 Supreme Court decision, the press communiqué announcing Bose's award was cancelled; it is the only time when the award was announced but not conferred.

List of recipients

C. Rajagopalachari
Independence activist, last and only Indian Governor-General   of India
C. V. Raman
Nobel laureate physicist (1930)
Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan
Philosopher, India's first Vice-President (1952–62), and second President (1962–67)
Bhagwan Das
Independence activist, theosophist, and founder of Mahatma Gandhi Kashi Vidyapith
Civil engineer, statesman and Diwan of Mysore (1912–18)
Jawaharlal Nehru
Independence activist, author, and first Prime Minister of India (1947–64)
Govind Ballabh Pant
Independence activist, first Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh (1950–54)
Dhondo Keshav Karve
Social reformer
Bidhan Chandra Roy
Physician-Surgeon and second Chief Minister of West Bengal (1948–62)
Purushottam Das Tandon
Independence activist, educator
Rajendra Prasad
Independence activist, lawyer, first President of India (1950–62)
Zakir Hussain
Independence activist, second Vice-President of India (1962–67), and third President of India (1967–69)
Pandurang Vaman Kane
Indologist and Sanskrit scholar
Lal Bahadur Shastri
Independence activist and third Prime Minister of India (1964–66)
Indira Gandhi
Former Prime Minister of India (1966–77, 1980–84)
V. V. Giri
Trade unionist, first Acting President of India, and fourth President of India (1969–74)
K. Kamaraj
Independence activist and former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu (1954–57, 1957–62, 1962–63)
Mother Teresa
Catholic nun, founder of the Missionaries of Charity and Nobel peace prize laureate (1979)
Vinoba Bhave
Independence activist, social reformer, and Ramon Magsaysay Award laureate (1958)
Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan
Independence activist
M. G. Ramachandran
Film actor and former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu (1977–80, 1980–84, 1985–87)
B. R. Ambedkar
Chief architect of the Indian Constitution and social reformer
Nelson Mandela
Leader of the Anti-Apartheid Movement in South Africa and Nobel Peace Prize laureate (1993)
Rajiv Gandhi
Ninth Prime Minister of India (1984–89)
Vallabhbhai Patel
Independence activist and first Deputy Prime Minister of India (1947–50)
Morarji Desai
Independence activist and sixth Prime Minister of India (1977–79)
Abul Kalam Azad
Independence activist
J. R. D. Tata
Industrialist and philanthropist
Satyajit Ray
Gulzarilal Nanda
Independence activist and two times interim Prime Minister of India
Aruna Asaf Ali
Independence activist
A. P. J. Abdul Kalam
Aerospace and Defense Scientist, eleventh President of India (2002–07)
M. S. Subbulakshmi
Carnatic classical vocalist
Chidambaram Subramaniam
Independence activist and former Minister of Agriculture of India (1964–66)
Jayaprakash Narayan
Independence activist and social reformer
Ravi Shankar
Hindustani classical Sitar player
Amartya Sen
Nobel laureate economist (1998)
Gopinath Bordoloi
Independence activist, first Chief Minister of Assam (1946–50)
Lata Mangeshkar
Playback singer
Bismillah Khan
Hindustani classical Shehnai player
Bhimsen Joshi
Hindustani classical vocalist
C. N. R. Rao
Sachin Tendulkar
Madan Mohan Malaviya
Educationist and politician (President of Indian National Congress (INC) in 1909, 1918)
Atal Bihari Vajpayee
Former Prime Minister of India (1996), (1998), (1999-2004), poet

History of Bharat Ratna Award

On 2 January 1954, a press communique was released from the office of the secretary to the President of India announcing the creation of two civilian awards—Bharat Ratna, the highest civilian award, and the three-tier Padma Vibhushan, classified into "Pahela Warg" (Class I), "Dusra Warg" (Class II), and "Tisra Warg" (Class III), which rank below the Bharat Ratna.[2] A year later on 15 January 1955, the Padma Vibhushan was reclassified into three different awards; the Padma Vibhushan, the highest of the three followed by the Padma Bhushan and the Padma Shri.[3]

There is no formal provision that recipients of the Bharat Ratna should be Indian citizens. It has been awarded to a naturalised Indian citizen, Mother Teresa in 1980, and to two non-Indians, Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan of Pakistan in 1987 and the late former South African president Nelson Mandela in 1990.[4] Sachin Tendulkar, at the age of 40, became the youngest person and first sportsperson to receive the honour. Dhondo Keshav Karve was awarded on his 100th birthday on 18 April 1958 in a special ceremony. As of 2014, the award has been conferred upon 45 people with 12 posthumous declarations.

The award was briefly suspended twice in its history. The first suspension occurred after Morarji Desai was sworn in as the fourth Prime Minister of India in 1977. His government withdrew all personal civil honours on 13 July 1977 and past recipients were asked not to use the awards as a title.The suspension was rescinded on 25 January 1980 after Indira Gandhi again became the Prime Minister.The civilian awards were suspended again in mid-1992 when two Public-Interest Litigations were filed, one in the Kerala High Court and another in the Madhya Pradesh High Court, challenging "the constitutional validity" of the awards.The awards were reintroduced by the Supreme Court of India in December 1995 following the conclusion of the litigation.


The Bharat Ratna is conferred "in recognition of exceptional service/performance of the highest order", and was originally confined to the arts, literature, science and public services, per the 1954 regulations. But, in December 2011, the rules were changed to include "any field of human endeavour".The 1954 statutes also did not allow posthumous awards but this was subsequently modified in the January 1955 statute and Lal Bahadur Shastri became the first recipient to be honoured posthumously in 1966. 

Although there is no formal nomination process, recommendations for the award can only be made by the Prime Minister of India to the President with a maximum number of three nominees being awarded per year. The recipient receives a Sanad (certificate) signed by the President and a medallion without any monetary grant. Under the terms of Article 18 (1) of the Constitution of India, the recipients cannot use the award as a prefix or suffix to their name, although recipients may use either the expressions "Awarded Bharat Ratna by the President" or "Recipient of Bharat Ratna Award" to indicate that they have been honoured with the award.The holders of the Bharat Ratna rank 7th in the Indian order of precedence.

As with many official announcements, recipients are announced and registered in The Gazette of India, a publication released by the Department of Publication, Ministry of Urban Development used for official government notices; without publication in the Gazette, conferral of the award is not considered official. Recipients whose awards have been revoked or restored, both of which require the authority of the President, are also registered in the Gazette. Recipients whose awards have been revoked are required to surrender their medal, and their name to be struck from the register. 


The original 1954 specifications of the award was a circle made of gold 1 3⁄8 inches (35 mm) in diameter with a centred sun burst design on the obverse side. The text "Bharat Ratna", in Devanagari Script, is inscribed on the upper edge in silver gilt with a wreath set along on the lower edge. A platinum Emblem of India was placed in the centre of the reverse side with the national motto of India, "Satyameva Jayate" (Truth alone triumphs) in Devanagari Script, inscribed in silver-gilt on the lower edge.

A year later, however, the design was modified to the form that is currently in use. The current medal is in the shape of a Peepal leaf, about 2 5⁄16 inches (59 mm) long, 1 7⁄8 inches (48 mm) wide and 1⁄8 inch (3.2 mm) thick and rimmed in platinum. The embossed sun burst design, also made of platinum, on the obverse side of the medal has a diameter of 5⁄8 inch (16 mm) with rays spreading out from 5⁄6 inch (21 mm) to 1⁄2 inch (13 mm) from the center of the Sun. The words "Bharat Ratna" on the obverse side remained the same as the 1954 design as did the emblem of India and "Satyameva Jayate" on the reverse side. A 2-inch-wide (51 mm) white ribbon is attached to the medal so it can be worn around the neck. In 1957, the silver-gilt decoration was changed to burnished bronze.

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