Bharat Ratna is the highest civilian award, awarded for highest degree of service to the nation in the field of Art, Literature, Science and Public service. It is awarded irrespective of age, sex, religion, occupation or position. The Prime Minister of India himself makes recommendation to the President for awarding Bharat Ratna. It is not required to award Bharat Ratna every year.There is annual restriction of 3 awardees in a year.
Bharat Ratna was introduced in 1954 through President’s Sectarian Notification (No. 1 - Pres/55 dated 8-1-1955).
Bharat Ratna rank and precedence
As per President’s Sectarian Notification (No. 33 – Pres/79 dated 26-7-1979) the Holders of Bharat Ratna holds the 7th Rank in the country. It should be noted that Bharat Ratna holds higher rank than Judges of Supreme Court, Chairman of UPSC, Chief Election Commissioner, CAG, Ministers of State of Union, Attorney General of India, Cabinet Secretary of India and others.
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Under Article 18 (Abolition of titles) of the constitution of India, no citizen is allowed to use such title of honours before their name.
The award does not carry any money grant. The winner of the award receives a Sanad (certificate) signed by the President and a medallion. The original medallion was supposed to be 35 mm diameter circular gold medallion with sun embossed and Bharat Ratna inscribed in Devnagari script above a sun and floral wreath below the sun. The reverse side was supposed to have state emblem and motto “Satyamev Jayate”. The current design is which was altered after a year, the reverse side of the Bharat Ratna is unchanged, but the front side is altered. The medallion is of the shape of Banayan Tree Leaf with “Bharat Ratna” inscribed on it with Devnagri script. There is also a 51 mm wide ribbon attached to the award.
Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose were awarded Bharat Ratna posthumously in the year 1992, but a petition was filed in the supreme court challenging his death – Government could not produce any conclusive evidence of the same and hence the award was withdrawn.
Declined the award
Abul Kalam Azad, India’s first education minister declined Bharat Ratna stating that those who select the awardees should themselves be not awarded. Abul Kalam Azad though were awarded Bharat Ratna posthumously in 1992.
Why did Mahatma Gandhi not receive Bharat Ratna?
In the original notification of Bharat Ratna, there was no clause of awarding Bharat Ratna posthumously, so Mahatma Gandhi were not awarded with Bharat Ratna.
Shri Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman were the first recipient of Bharat Ratna in 1954
There are two non-Indian recipient of Bharat Ratna –
- In 1987, a Pakistani citizen, Khan Abdul Ghafar Khan were awarded Bharat Ratna.
- In 1990, Former South Africa President Nelson Mandela was awarded with Bharat Ratna.
Late Bhimsen Joshi Gururaj Joshi - Arts : 2008
Kumari Lata Dinanath Mangeshkar - Arts : 2001
Late. Ustad Bismillah Khan - Arts : 2001
Prof. Amartya Sen - Literature & Education : 1999
Lokpriya Gopinath (posth.) Bordoloi - Public Affairs : 1999
Loknayak Jayprakash (Posth.) Narayan - Public Affairs : 1999
Pandit Ravi Shankar - Arts : 1999
Shri Chidambaram Subramaniam - Public Affairs : 1998
Smt. M.S. Subbulakshmi - Arts : 1998
Shri (Dr.) A.P.J. Abdul Kalam - Science & Engineering. : 1997
Smt. Aruna Asaf (Posth.) Ali - Public Affairs : 1997
Shri Gulzari Lal Nanda - Public Affairs : 1997
Shri Jehangir Ratanji Dadabhai Tata - Trade & Industry : 1992
Shri Maulana Abul Kalam Azad - Public Affairs : 1992
Shri Satyajit Ray - Arts : 1992
Shri Morarji Ranchhodji Desai - Public Affairs : 1991
Shri Rajiv Gandhi - Public Affairs : 1991
Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel - Public Affairs : 1991
Dr. Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar - Public Affairs : 1990
Dr. Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela - Public Affairs : 1990
Shri Marudur Gopalan Ramachandran - Public Affairs : 1988
Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan - Social Work : 1987 : Pakistan
Shri Acharya Vinoba Bhave - Social Work : 1983 : India : Maharashtra
Mother Mary Teresa Bojaxhiu Teresa - Social Work : 1980
Shri Kumaraswamy Kamraj - Public Affairs : 1976
Shri V.V. Giri - Public Affairs : 1975
Smt. Indira Gandhi - Public Affairs : 1971
Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri - Public Affairs : 1966
Dr. Pandurang Vaman Kane - Social Work : 1963
Dr. Zakir Hussain - Public Affairs : 1963
Dr. Rajendra Prasad - Public Affairs : 1962
Dr. Bidhan Chandra Roy - Public Affairs : 1961
Shri Purushottam Das Tandon - Public Affairs : 1961
Dr. Dhonde Keshav Karve - Social Work : 1958
Pt. Govind Ballabh Pant - Public Affairs : 1957
Dr. Bhagwan Das - Literature & Education : 1955
Shri Jawaharlal Nehru - Public Affairs : 1955
Dr. M. Vivesvaraya - Civil Service : 1955
Shri Chakravarti Rajagopalachari - Public Affairs : 1954
Dr. Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman - Science & Engineering. : 1954
Dr. Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan - Public Affairs : 1954
- Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam
- Shri Ravi Shankar
- Amartya Sen
- Lata Mangeshkar
- Nelson Mandela
Demand for awarding Bharat Ratna
There are various influential demands for awarding Bharat Ratna to certain citizens of the country. Popular demands among those include:-
- A great section of society is demanding Bharat Ratna for Sachin Tendulkar, the cricketing legend of the country.
- There is demand for awarding Major Dhyanchand, finest Hockey player India has ever produced with Bharat Ratna award.
- The demand for awarding Bharat Ratna to Legendary singer Mohammad Rafi is also taking a pace.
- Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) has been strongly making a demand for giving Bharat Ratna to former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
- Current spur in the movement of civil society has also given rise to the demand of Bharat Ratna for Anna Hazare.
- There is a demand in South India to confer Bharat Ratna to Late Shri Sathya Sai Baba.
- There is a great support to confer Bharat Ratna to the greatest Ambassador of game of chess and India’s best grand-master Viswanathan Anand
There has been also other demands to award Bharat Ratna for Bhagat Singh, Kashiram Rana, Jyoti Basu, Dilip Kumar, Sam Manekshaw and others.