Bharat Ratna is India’s highest civilian award. It is awarded for the highest degrees of national service. This service includes artistic, literary, and scientific achievements, as well as recognition of public service of the highest order. Unlike knights, holders of the Bharat Ratna carry no special title or any other honorifics, but they do have a place in the Indian order of precedence.
The award was established by the first President of India, Rajendra Prasad, on 2 January 1954. Along with other major national honours, such as the Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan and Padma Shri, the awarding of the Bharat Ratna was suspended from July 13, 1977 to January 26, 1980.
Any person without distinction of race, occupation, position or sex is eligible for this award. The recommendations for Bharat Ratna are made by the Prime Minister to the President. No formal recommendations for this are necessary.
The number of annual awards is restricted to a maximum of three in a particular year. On conferment of the award, the recipient receives a Sanad (certificate) signed by the President and a medallion.
The award does not carry any monetary grant. The decoration is in the form of a Peepal leaf, about 5.8 cm long, 4.7 cm wide and 3.1 mm thick. It is of toned bronze. On its obverse is embossed a replica of the Sun, 1.6 cm in diameter, below which the words Bharat Ratna are embossed in Devanagari script. On the reverse are State emblem and the motto, also in Devanagari. The emblem, the Sun and the rim are of platinum. The inscriptions are in burnished bronze.
In terms of Article 18 (1) of the Constitution, the award cannot be used as a prefix or suffix to the recipient’s name.
However, should an award winner consider it necessary, he or she may use the following expression in their bio-data or letterhead or visiting card, etc. to indicate that he or she is a recipient of the award: ‘Awarded Bharat Ratna by the President’ or ‘Recipient of Bharat Ratna Award’.
The latest award was given for the year 2015 to Late Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya and former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. While Malavya was the 44th recipient of the award, Vajpayee was the 45th.
Bharat Ratna Awardees
- Chakravarti Rajagopalachari: 1954
- Dr. Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan: 1954
- Dr. Chandrasekhar Venkat Raman: 1954
- Dr. Bhagwan Das: 1955
- Dr. Mokshagundam Visveswaraya: 1955
- Jawaharlal Nehru: 1955
- Govind Ballabh Pant: 1957
- Dr. Dhondo Keshave Karve: 1958
- Dr. Bhidan Chandra Roy: 1961
- Purushottam Das Tandon: 1961
- Dr. Rajendra Prasad: 1962
- Dr. Zakir Husain: 1963
- Dr. Pandurang Vaman Kane: 1963
- Lal Bahadur Shastri (Posthumous): 1966
- Indira Gandhi: 1971
- Varahagiri Venkatagiri: 1975
- Kumaraswami Kamraj (Posthmous): 1976
- Anjeze Gonxhe Bojaxhiu (Mother Teresa): 1980
- Acharya Vinobha Bhave (Posthumous): 1983
- Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan: 1987
- Marudu Gopalan Ramachandran (Posthumous): 1988
- Dr. Bhim Rao Ramji Ambedkar (Posthumous): 1990
- Dr. Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela: 1990
- Rajiv Gandhi (Posthumous): 1991
- Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel (Posthumous): 1991
- Morarji Ranchodji Desai: 1991
- Maulana Abul Kalam Azad (Posthumous): 1992
- Jehangir Ratanji Dada Bhai Tata: 1992
- Satyajit Ray: 1992
- Aruna Asaf Ali (Posthumous): 1997
- Gulzarilal Nanda (Posthumous): 1997
- Dr. Avul Pakir J. Abdul Kalam: 1997
- M. S. Subbalakshmi: 1998
- Chidambaram Subramaniam: 1998
- Loknayak Jayaprakash Narayan (Posthumous): 1999
- Professor Amartya Sen: 1999
- Lokpriya Gopinath Bardoloi (Posthumous): 1999
- Pandit Ravi Shankar: 1999
- Lata Mangeshkar: 2001
- Bismillah Khan: 2001
- Pt. Bhimsen Joshi: 2009
- C.N.R. Rao: 2014
- Sachin R. Tendulkar: 2014
- Madan Mohan Malaviya: 2015
- Atal Bihari Vajpayee: 2015
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