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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 inDevanagari script, on a peepul leaf
Instituted 1954
Last awarded 2013
Total awarded 43
Awarded by Government of India
Ribbon IND Bharat Ratna BAR.png
First awardee(s) Sarvepalli RadhakrishnanSir C.V. RamanC. Rajagopalachari
Last awardee(s) Bhimsen Joshi
Award rank
None ← Bharat Ratna → Padma 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 PrasadPresident 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there have been twelve posthumous awards, including the award to Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose in 1992, which was later withdrawn due to a legal technicality, the only case of an award being withdrawn.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) andVallabhbhai 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[edit]

 NameImageBirth / DeathAwardedNotes
1. Chakravarti Rajgopalachari C Rajagopalachari Feb 17 2011.JPG 1878–1972 1954 Independence activist, last Governor-General
2. C. V. Raman Sir CV Raman.JPG 1888–1970 1954 Physicist
3. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan Radhakrishnan.jpg 1888–1975 1954 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 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 Educator, social reformer
9. Bidhan Chandra Roy   1882–1962 1961 Physician, Chief Minister of West Bengal
10. Purushottam Das Tandon   1882–1962 1961 Independence activist, educator
11. Rajendra Prasad   1884–1963 1962 Independence activist, jurist, first President
12. Zakir Hussain   1897–1969 1963 Independence activist, Scholar, third President
13. Pandurang Vaman Kane   1880–1972 1963 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
16. V. V. Giri   1894–1980 1975 Trade unionist and fourth President
17. K. Kamaraj   1903–1975 1976 Posthumous, independence activist, Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu State
18. Mother Teresa MotherTeresa 090.jpg 1910–1997 1980 Catholic nun, founder of the Missionaries of Charity
19. Vinoba Bhave   1895–1982 1983 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 Posthumous, film actor, Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu
22. B. R. Ambedkar Ambedkar Barrister.jpg 1891–1956 1990 Posthumous, Chief architect of the Indian Constitution,Crusader against Untouchablity, Dalit Icon, Social Reformer, Historian, politician, economist, and scholar
23. Nelson Mandela Nelson Mandela-2008 (edit).jpg b. 1918 1990 Second non-citizen and non-Indian recipient, Leader of the Anti-Apartheid movement
24. Rajiv Gandhi Rajiv Gandhi (cropped).jpg 1944–1991 1991 Posthumous, Sixth Prime Minister
25. Vallabhbhai Patel Sardar patel (cropped).jpg 1875–1950 1991 Posthumous, independence activist, first Home Minister
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 Filmmaker
30. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam AbdulKalam.JPG b. 1931 1997 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 Carnatic classical singer
34. Chidambaram Subramaniam   1910–2000 1998 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
37. Amartya Sen Amartya Sen NIH.jpg b. 1933 1999 Economist
38. Gopinath Bordoloi   1890–1950 1999 Posthumous, independence activist, Chief Minister of Assam
39. Lata Mangeshkar Lata Mangeshkar - still 29065 crop.jpg b. 1929 2001 Playback singer
40. Bismillah Khan Bismillah at Concert1 (edited).jpg 1916–2006 2001 Hindustani classical shehnai player
41. Bhimsen Joshi Pandit Bhimsen Joshi (cropped).jpg 1922–2011 2008 Hindustani classical singer
42. C. N. R. Rao[7][8] CNRrao2.jpg b. 1934 2014
43. Sachin Tendulkar[7][8] Sachin at Castrol Golden Spanner Awards (crop).jpg b. 1973 2014

Living recipients[edit]

Indian recipients
Foreign recipients


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.[9]

Abul Kalam Azad[edit]

When[when?] the award was offered to freedom fighter and India's first Minister of EducationAbul 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.[10]


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