Bharat Ratna

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Bharat Ratna
Bharat Ratna.jpg
Award Information
Type Civilian
Category National
Description An image of the Sun along with the words "Bharat Ratna", inscribed in Devanagari script, on a peepul leaf
Instituted 1954
Last awarded 2014
Total awarded 43
Awarded by Government of India
Ribbon IND Bharat Ratna BAR.png
First awardee(s) Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, C. V. Raman, C. Rajagopalachari
Last awardee(s) Sachin Tendulkar, C. N. R. Rao
Award rank
None ← Bharat RatnaPadma Vibhushan

Bharat Ratna (Jewel of India[1] or Gem of India[2] in English) is the Republic of India's highest civilian award.

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."[3][4] 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."[5]

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.[5] 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.[5]


The order to establish the award was given by Rajendra Prasad, President of India, on 2 January 1955.[6] 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.[citation needed] 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there have been twelve posthumous awards, including the award to Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose in 1992, which was later withdrawn due to a legal technicality, the only case of an award being withdrawn.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).


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[edit]

Name Image Birth / Death Awarded State Notes
1. C Rajagopalachari C Rajagopalachari Feb 17 2011.JPG 1878–1972 1954 Tamil Nadu Independence activist, last and the only Indian Governor-General of India
2. CV Raman Sir CV Raman.JPG 1888–1970 1954 Tamil Nadu Physicist from Madras and a Nobel laureate
3. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan Radhakrishnan.jpg 1888–1975 1954 Tamil Nadu Philosopher, India's First Vice-President (1952–1962), and India's Second President(1962–1967)
4. Bhagwan Das 1869–1958 1955 Independence activist, author, Founder of Kashi Vidya Peeth
5. Mokshagundam Visvesvarayya 1861–1962 1955 Karnataka Civil engineer, Diwan of Mysore
6. Jawaharlal Nehru Bundesarchiv Bild 183-61849-0001, Indien, Otto Grotewohl bei Ministerpräsident Nehru cropped.jpg 1889–1964 1955 Independence activist, author, first Prime Minister
7. Govind Ballabh Pant 1887–1961 1957 Independence activist, Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, Home Minister
8. Dhondo Keshav Karve 1858–1962 1958 Maharashtra Educator, social reformer
9. Bidhan Chandra Roy 1882–1962 1961 West Bengal Physician, Chief Minister of West Bengal
10. Purushottam Das Tandon 1882–1962 1961 Independence activist, educator
11. Rajendra Prasad 1884–1963 1962 Bihar Independence activist, jurist, first President
12. Zakir Hussain 1897–1969 1963 Andhra Pradesh Independence activist, scholar, third President
13. Pandurang Vaman Kane 1880–1972 1963 Maharashtra Indologist and Sanskrit scholar
14. Lal Bahadur Shastri 1904–1966 1966 Posthumous, independence activist, second Prime Minister
15. Indira Gandhi Indira2.jpg 1917–1984 1971 Third Prime Minister, first female Prime Minister of India (1966–1977,1980–1984)
16. V. V. Giri 1894–1980 1975 Andhra Pradesh Trade unionist and fourth President of India
17. K. Kamaraj 1903–1975 1976 Tamil Nadu Posthumous, independence activist, Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu State
18. Mother Teresa of Calcutta MotherTeresa 090.jpg 1910–1997 1980 West Bengal Catholic nun, founder of the Missionaries of Charity in Kolkata and Nobel laureate
19. Vinoba Bhave 1895–1982 1983 Maharashtra Posthumous, social reformer, independence activist
20. Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan.jpg 1890–1988 1987 First non-citizen, independence activist
21. M. G. Ramachandran MGR with K Karunakaran (cropped).jpg 1917–1987 1988 Tamil Nadu Posthumous, film actor, Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu
22. B. R. Ambedkar Ambedkar Barrister.jpg 1891–1956 1990 Maharashtra Posthumous, Chief architect of the Indian Constitution, Crusader against Untouchability
23. Nelson Mandela Nelson Mandela-2008 (edit).jpg 1918–2013 1990 Second non-citizen and non-Indian recipient, Leader of the Anti-Apartheid movement and Nobel laureate
24. Rajiv Gandhi Rajiv Gandhi (cropped).jpg 1944–1991 1991 Posthumous, Sixth Prime Minister.
25. Vallabhbhai Patel Sardar patel (cropped).jpg 1875–1950 1991 Gujarat Posthumous, independence activist, first Home Minister,Was responsible for unification of all Indian princely states.
26. Morarji Desai Morarji Desai 1978.jpg 1896–1995 1991 Independence activist, fourth Prime Minister
27. Abul Kalam Azad Maulana Abul Kalam Azad.jpg 1888–1958 1992 Posthumous, independence activist, first Minister of Education
28. J. R. D. Tata 1904–1993 1992 Industrialist and philanthropist
29. Satyajit Ray SatyajitRay.jpg 1922–1992 1992 West Bengal Bengali Filmmaker
30. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam AbdulKalam.JPG b. 1931 1997 Tamil Nadu Aeronautical Engineer,11th President of India
31. Gulzarilal Nanda 1898–1998 1997 Independence activist, interim Prime Minister
32. Aruna Asaf Ali 1908–1996 1997 Posthumous, independence activist
33. M. S. Subbulakshmi Ms subbulakshmi.jpg 1916–2004 1998 Tamil Nadu Carnatic classical singer
34. Chidambaram Subramaniam 1910–2000 1998 Tamil Nadu Independence activist, Minister of Agriculture
35. Jayaprakash Narayan 1902–1979 1998 Posthumous, independence activist and politician
36. Ravi Shankar Ravi Shankar 2009 crop.jpg 1920–2012 1999 Sitar player from Calcutta
37. Amartya Sen Amartya Sen NIH.jpg b. 1933 1999 West Bengal Economist from Kolkata and a Nobel laureate
38. Gopinath Bordoloi 1890–1950 1999 Assam Posthumous, independence activist, Chief Minister of Assam
39. Lata Mangeshkar Lata Mangeshkar - still 29065 crop.jpg b. 1929 2001 Maharashtra Hindustani Playback singer
40. Bismillah Khan Bismillah at Concert1 (edited).jpg 1916–2006 2001 Hindustani classical shehnai player
41. Pandit Bhimsen Joshi Pandit Bhimsen Joshi (cropped).jpg 1922–2011 2008[7] Karnataka Hindustani classical singer
42. C. N. R. Rao[8][9] CNRrao2.jpg b. 1934 2014
Karnataka Scientist
43. Sachin Tendulkar[8][9] Sachin at Castrol Golden Spanner Awards (crop).jpg b. 1973 2014
Maharastra Cricketer


Subhas Chandra Bose[edit]

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.[10]

Abul Kalam Azad[edit]

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.[11]

Sachin Tendulkar[edit]

Following the award for Sachin Tendulkar, an RTI activist wrote to the Election Commission of India that the declaration was a violation of the model code of conduct. The petitioner suggested that since Tendulkar was a Congress nominated MP, the decision to award him the Bharat Ratna would influence the voters of Delhi, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Mizoram where the election process was underway.[12] But the Election Commission rejected the petition stating that conferring the award on people belonging to non-poll going states did not amount to a violation of the code.[13]


  1. ^ Mahajan, Vidya Dhar (1971). The Constitution of India. Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh: Eastern Book Company. p. 169. 
  2. ^ Hoiberg, Dale; Indu Ramchandani (2000). Students' Britannica India. New Delhi: Encyclopædia Britannica (India). Vol. 3, p198. ISBN 978-0-85229-760-5. 
  3. ^ "Govt changes criteria for Bharat Ratna; now open for all". The Hindu. Press Trust of India. 16 December 2011. Retrieved 16 December 2011. 
  4. ^ Bharat Ratna: Govt amends rules to pave way for sportspersons, Agencies, New Delhi, Fri 16 Dec 2011,
  5. ^ a b c
  6. ^ Dhawan, S. K. (1991). Bharat Ratnas, 1954–1991. Wave Publications. p. 9. ASIN B0006EYROK. 
  7. ^ "As per Government of India – Ministry of Home Affairs". Retrieved 25 December 2013. 
  8. ^ a b "Sachin first sportsperson to win country's highest civilian honour Bharat Ratna". New Delhi: Hindustan Times. 16 November 2013. Retrieved 16 November 2013. 
  9. ^ a b "Bharat Ratna for Prof CNR Rao and Sachin Tendulkar". Prime Minister's Office. 16 November 2013. Retrieved 16 November 2013. 
  10. ^ "SC cancels note on Bharat Ratna for Subhash Bose". The Indian Express. 5 August 1997. Retrieved 17 November 2013. 
  11. ^ "Those who said no to top awards". Times of India. 20 January 2008. Retrieved 9 April 2013. 
  12. ^ "RTI activist moves EC against Sachin Tendulkar getting Bharat Ratna". IBN Live. 
  13. ^ "Govt didn't violate model code in naming Sachin for Bharat Ratna: EC". Hindustan Times. 

External links[edit]