New Delhi, February 9
The decision to award Bharat Ratna to former prime ministers PV Narasimha Rao and Charan Singh and green revolution pioneer MS Swaminathan has taken the number of recipients of the country’s highest civilian award to 53, five of them within 2024, maximum in a year so far. The government has also named veteran BJP leader LK Advani and former Bihar chief minister Karpoori Thakur for the award.
Till now, the maximum Bharat Ratnas were awarded in 1999 when four recipients were given the coveted award.
The last Bharat Ratna award was conferred upon Pranab Mukherjee in 2019 and was posthumously awarded to Bhupendra Kumar Hazarika and Nanaji Deshmukh. The award was not given to anyone between 2020 and 2023.
The Government of India had instituted two civilian awards — Bharat Ratna and Padma Vibhushan — in 1954. The latter had three classes, namely Pahela Varg, Dusra Varg and Tisra Varg. These were subsequently renamed as Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan and Padma Shri through a presidential notification on January 8, 1955.
The Bharat Ratna is awarded in recognition of exceptional service or performance of the highest order in any field of human endeavour. It is treated on a different footing from Padma awards.
The recommendations for Bharat Ratna are made by the Prime Minister to the President. No formal recommendations for Bharat Ratna are necessary.
It was given to three persons in a year on several occasions, including in 2019, 1997, 1992, 1991, 1955 and 1954.
On several occasions it was given to two persons including in 2015, 2014, 2001, 1998, 1990, 1963 and 1961, while there have also been years when the award was not conferred on anyone.
In the first year, the coveted award was conferred upon C Rajagopalachari, Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan and Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman.
Those conferred with this award in the past include Jawaharlal Nehru, Rajendra Prasad, Zakir Hussain, Lal Bahadur Shastri, Abul Kalam Azad, Indira Gandhi, K Kamraj, Mother Teresa, Vinoba Bhave, M G Ramachandran, B R Ambedkar, Nelson Mandela, Rajiv Gandhi, Vallabhbhai Patel, Morarji Desai, Satyajit Ray, A P J Abdul Kalam, Jayaprakash Narayan, Amartya Sen, Sachin Tendulkar, Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Madan Mohan Malaviya.
The other recipients are Bhagwan Das, M Visvesvaraya, Govind Ballabh Pant, Dhondo Keshav Karve, Bidhan Chandra Roy, Purshottam Das Tandon, Pandurang Vaman Kane, Varahgiri Venkata Giri, Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan, Jahangir Ratanji Dadabhai Tata, Gulzarilal Nanda, Bismillah Khan, M Subbulakshmi, Gopinath Bordoloi, Pandit Ravi Shankar, C N R Rao, Bhimsen Gururaj Joshi, Lata Mangeshkar, Chidambaram Subramaniam and Aruna Asaf Ali.
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.
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