|Description||An image of the Sun along with the words "Bharat Ratna", inscribed in Devanagari script, on a peepul leaf|
|Awarded by||Government of India|
|First awardee(s)||Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, Sir C.V. Raman, C. Rajagopalachari|
|Last awardee(s)||Sachin Tendulkar, C. N. R. Rao|
|None ← Bharat Ratna → Padma Vibhushan|
Until 2011, the official criteria for awarding the Bharat Ratna stipulated it was to be conferred "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." In December 2011, the Government of India modified the criteria to allow sportspersons to receive the award; since then, the award may be conferred "for performance of highest order in any field of human endeavour."
Any person without distinction of race, occupation, position or sex is eligible for the award. The recommendations for an award of the "Bharat Ratna" are made by the Prime Minister of India to the President of India; a maximum of three awards may be made in a given year.  The holders of the Bharat Ratna rank 7th in the Indian order of precedence; however, the honour does not carry a monetary grant. The honour does not confer any pre- or post-nominal titles or letters; recipients are constitutionally prohibited from using the award name as a title or post-nominal. However, if they desire, recipients may state they are Bharat Ratna awardees in their curriculum vitae, on letterheads or on business cards.
The order to establish the award was given by Rajendra Prasad, President of India, on 2 January 1955. The original statutes of January 1954 did not make allowance for posthumous awards (and this perhaps explains why the decoration was never awarded to Mahatma Gandhi), though this provision was added in the January 1966 statute. Subsequently, there have been twelve posthumous awards, including the award to Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose in 1992, which was later withdrawn due to a legal technicality, the only case of an award being withdrawn. The award was briefly suspended from 13 July 1977 to 26 January 1980. There is no formal provision that recipients of the Bharat Ratna should be Indian citizens. Bharat Ratna has been one award to a naturalised Indian citizen, Mother Teresa (1980), and to two non-Indians, Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan (1987) and Nelson Mandela (1990). The awarding of this honour has frequently been the subject of litigation questioning the constitutional basis of such.
Sachin Tendulkar is the youngest person alive at the time of receiving the award (at the age of 40). Dhondo Keshav Karve is the eldest person alive at the time of receiving the award (age 100) and Vallabhbhai Patel is the eldest overall (posthumously at the age of 75).
The original specifications for the award called for a circular gold medal, 35 mm in diameter, with the sun and the legend "Bharat Ratna" (in Devanagari) above and a floral wreath below. The reverse was to carry the state emblem and motto. It was to be worn around the neck from a white ribbon. There is no indication that any specimens of this design were ever produced and one year later the design was altered. 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.
The award is attached to a 2-inch-wide (51 mm) white ribbon, and is designed to be worn around the recipient's neck.
List of recipients
|Name||Image||Birth / Death||Awarded||Age at the time of Award Announced||Notes|
|1.||C Rajagopalachari||1878–1972||1954||76||Independence activist, last Governor-General|
|2.||C. V. Raman||1888–1970||1954||66||Physicist|
|3.||Radhakrishnan||1888–1975||1954||66||Philosopher, India's First Vice President (1952-1962), and India's Second President(1962-1967)|
|4.||Bhagwan Das||1869–1958||1955||86||Independence activist, author, Founder of Kashi Vidya Peeth|
|5.||Mokshagundam Visvesvarayya||1861–1962||1955||94||Civil engineer, Diwan of Mysore|
|6.||Jawaharlal Nehru||1889–1964||1955||66||Independence activist, author, first Prime Minister|
|7.||Govind Ballabh Pant||1887–1961||1957||70||Independence activist, Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, Home Minister|
|8.||Dhondo Keshav Karve||1858–1962||1958||100||Educator, social reformer|
|9.||Bidhan Chandra Roy||1882–1962||1961||79||Physician, Chief Minister of West Bengal|
|10.||Purushottam Das Tandon||1882–1962||1961||79||Independence activist, educator|
|11.||Rajendra Prasad||1884–1963||1962||78||Independence activist, jurist, first President|
|12.||Zakir Hussain||1897–1969||1963||66||Independence activist, Scholar, third President|
|13.||Pandurang Vaman Kane||1880–1972||1963||83||Indologist and Sanskrit scholar|
|14.||Lal Bahadur Shastri||1904–1966||1966||62||Posthumous, independence activist, second Prime Minister|
|15.||Indira Gandhi||1917–1984||1971||54||Third Prime Minister,The First Woman Prime Minister of India(1966-1977,1980-1984)|
|16.||V. V. Giri||1894–1980||1975||81||Trade unionist and fourth President|
|17.||K. Kamaraj||1903–1975||1976||73||Posthumous, independence activist, Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu State|
|18.||Mother Teresa||1910–1997||1980||70||Catholic nun, founder of the Missionaries of Charity|
|19.||Vinoba Bhave||1895–1982||1983||88||Posthumous, social reformer, independence activist|
|20.||Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan||1890–1988||1987||97||First non-citizen, independence activist|
|21.||M. G. Ramachandran||1917–1987||1988||71||Posthumous, film actor, Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu|
|22.||B. R. Ambedkar||1891–1956||1990||99||Posthumous, Chief architect of the Indian Constitution,Crusader against Untouchability, Dalit Icon, Social Reformer, Historian, politician, economist, and scholar|
|23.||Nelson Mandela||1918-2013||1990||72||Second non-citizen and non-Indian recipient, Leader of the Anti-Apartheid movement|
|24.||Rajiv Gandhi||1944–1991||1991||47||Posthumous, Sixth Prime Minister.|
|25.||Vallabhbhai Patel||1875–1950||1991||106||Posthumous, independence activist, first Home Minister,Was responsible for unification of all Indian princely states.|
|26.||Morarji Desai||1896–1995||1991||95||Independence activist, fourth Prime Minister|
|27.||Abul Kalam Azad||1888–1958||1992||104||Posthumous, independence activist, first Minister of Education|
|28.||J. R. D. Tata||1904–1993||1992||88||Industrialist and philanthropist|
|30.||A. P. J. Abdul Kalam||b. 1931||1997||66||Aeronautical Engineer,11th President of India|
|31.||Gulzarilal Nanda||1898–1998||1997||99||Independence activist, interim Prime Minister|
|32.||Aruna Asaf Ali||1908–1996||1997||88||Posthumous, independence activist|
|33.||M. S. Subbulakshmi||1916–2004||1998||82||Carnatic classical singer|
|34.||Chidambaram Subramaniam||1910–2000||1998||88||Independence activist, Minister of Agriculture|
|35.||Jayaprakash Narayan||1902–1979||1998||97||Posthumous, independence activist and politician|
|36.||Ravi Shankar||1920–2012||1999||79||Sitar player|
|37.||Amartya Sen||b. 1933||1999||66||Economist|
|38.||Gopinath Bordoloi||1890–1950||1999||109||Posthumous, independence activist, Chief Minister of Assam|
|39.||Lata Mangeshkar||b. 1929||2001||72||Playback singer|
|40.||Bismillah Khan||1916–2006||2001||85||Hindustani classical shehnai player|
|41.||Bhimsen Joshi||1922–2011||2008||87||Hindustani classical singer|
|42.||C. N. R. Rao||b. 1934||2014
|43.||Sachin Tendulkar||b. 1973||2014
Subhas Chandra Bose
The Indian government issued a communique in 1992 that Bharat Ratna would be conferred on Subhas Chandra Bose posthumously. The Supreme Court of India later cancelled this communique following a public interest litigation filed against the posthumous nature of the award due to the mystery surrounding the death of Subhas Chandra Bose. The government gave an affidavit that in deference to the sentiments expressed by the public and the Bose family, the government did not proceed to confer the award.
Abul Kalam Azad
When[when?] the award was offered to freedom fighter and India's first Minister of Education, Abul Kalam Azad, he promptly declined it saying that it should not be given to those who have been on the selection committee. Later he was awarded posthumously in 1992.
Following the declaration of Bharat Ratna for Sachin Tendulkar, an RTI activist wrote to the Election Commission of India that the declaration was a violation of model code of conduct. The petitioner suggested that since Tendulkar was a Congress nominated MP, the decision to award him Bharat Ratna would influence the voters of Delhi, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Mizoram where the election process was underway. But the Election Commission rejected the petition stating that conferring Bharat Ratna to people belonging to non-poll going states did not amount to violation of the model code.
- Mahajan, Vidya Dhar (1971). The Constitution of India. Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh: Eastern Book Company. p. 169.
- Hoiberg, Dale; Indu Ramchandani (2000). Students' Britannica India. New Delhi: Encyclopædia Britannica (India). Vol. 3, p198. ISBN 978-0-85229-760-5.
- "Govt changes criteria for Bharat Ratna; now open for all". The Hindu. Press Trust of India. 16 December 2011. Retrieved 16 December 2011.
- Bharat Ratna: Govt amends rules to pave way for sportspersons, Agencies, New Delhi, Fri 16 Dec 2011, indianexpress.com
- Dhawan, S. K. (1991). Bharat Ratnas, 1954–1991. Wave Publications. p. 9. ASIN B0006EYROK.
- "Sachin first sportsperson to win country’s highest civilian honour Bharat Ratna". New Delhi: Hindustan Times. 16 November 2013. Retrieved 16 November 2013.
- "Bharat Ratna for Prof CNR Rao and Sachin Tendulkar". Prime Minister's Office (India). 16 November 2013. Retrieved 16 November 2013.
- "SC cancels note on Bharat Ratna for Subhash Bose". The Indian Express. 5 August 1997. Retrieved 17 November 2013.
- "Those who said no to top awards". Times of India. 20 January 2008. Retrieved 9 April 2013.
- "RTI activist moves EC against Sachin Tendulkar getting Bharat Ratna". IBN Live.
- "Govt didn’t violate model code in naming Sachin for Bharat Ratna: EC". Hindustan Times.