Bharat Ratna, the highest award is given in recognition for the pre-eminent services in the fields of arts, literature, science and public services. The award was introduced in 1954 when Dr. Rajendra Prasad was the President of India. The highest civilian award is a way to recognise the eminent people in various fields. Originally the award was not offered posthumously but was added later in 1955.
Till now two non-Indians Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan (1987) and Nelson Mandela (1990) were awarded with this award.
But this award has drawn many controversies and has been subjected to, PIL questioning on the constitutional foundation, in its more than five-decade long history. The awarding of this honour though, has frequently been the subject of litigation questioning its constitutional base.
Ironically Mahatma Gandhi, the father of the nation, was never conferred with this elusive award.
Illustrious persons who have been decorated with this award:
1) Kumari Lata Dinanath Mangeshkar - Arts (2001): The undisputed female play back singer of Hindi Cinema. Her life story from the girl next door to stardom is an epic. She is fondly remember as the one who embosses music in people’s soul, it was her melodious and captivating voice that the song “Ai mere watan ke logon” sung by her brought tears to India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru’s eye.
2) Late. Ustad Bismillah Khan - Arts (2001): The ‘Shenai’ maestro, whose religion was casteless music, is still a synonymous name with shenai. He had the rare honour of performing at Delhi’s, Red Fort on the eve of Independence Day which later become the cultural part of India’s Independence Day.
3) Prof. Amartya Sen - Literature & Education (1999): He won the Noble Prize for his contribution in welfare economics, born in Shantiniketan this distinguished personality held high his country’s name in the field of economics. He taught at almost all prestigious varsities including Harvard and Oxford.
4) Lokpriya Gopinath (posth.) Bordoloi - Public Affairs (1999): The first Chief Minister of Indian state Assam, a freedom fighter who ensures to secure the sovereignty of Assam from China and East Pakistan (Bangladesh)
5) Loknayak Jayprakash (Posth.) Narayan - Public Affairs (1999): He was referred as the political children of Gandhi but for the recent students of Karl Marx he remains the ‘Lok Nayak’ the guide of the people, known for his socialist background who dedicated his life to ‘Bhoodan’ and ‘Sarvodaya’ movement in Bihar.
6) Pandit Ravi Shankar - Arts (1999): The world renowned Indian Sitar player and composer, was the ambassador of music across the globe. He worked with many renowned artistes of the world. He is also the proud father of famed singers Norah Jones and Anouska Shankar.
7) Shri Chidambaram Subramaniam - Public Affairs (1998): A politician who served as cabinet minister at various posts in the Congress government. He is also considered to have mastermind India’s modern agricultural development policy. Under him the country enjoyed the fruit of green revolution.
8) Smt. M.S. Subbulakshmi - Arts (1998): The renowned carnatic vocalist, called as rennunciate and the goddess of musical notes by Lata Mangeshkar and Ustad Bade Ghulam Khan. She epitomizes carnatic music globally.
9) Shri (Dr.) A.P.J. Abdul Kalam - Science & Engineering (1997): The great scientist popularly known as missile man and who later became the People’s President, he is adored by millions outside and inside India for his great vision and progressive thinking. His book Ignite Mind and The Wings of Fire continue to ignite many.
10) Smt. Aruna Asaf (Posth.) Ali - Public Affairs (1997): A freedom fighter widely remembered for hoisting the Congress flag at the Gowalia Tank maidan in Bombay during the Quit India Movement, 1942. For this she was called as Heroine of the 1942 movement for her bravery and was later called as Grand Old Lady of the Independent movement.
11) Shri Gulzari Lal Nanda - Public Affairs (1997): A Gandhian by principle served twice as contry’s Prime Minister for short duration after the death of Jawaharlal Nehru and Lal Bahadur Shastri. He is the only PM who did not own a house of his own.
12) Shri Jehangir Ratanji Dadabhai Tata - Trade & Industry (1992): One of the great business man India have, his contribution to Indian industries and aviation in particular is enormous. Fondly called as Jeh by his friends, Jeh respected workers and earn the same in back. Tata was one of the earliest company who open a dedicated human Resource department.
13) Shri Maulana Abul Kalam Azad - Public Affairs (1992 ): One of the prominent leader during India’s struggle for independence. He was India’s first Education Minister, Azad administered the establishment of a national education system with free primary education and modern institutions of higher education. He is also accredited with the foundation of the University Grants Commission, an important institution to supervise and advance the higher education in the nation.
14) Shri Satyajit Ray - Arts (1992): The great film maker, whose first film Pather Panchali won eleven international prizes including best Human Document at Cannes. Ray received many major awards in his career, including an Oscar for Life Achievement in 1992 few days before his death.
15) Shri Morarji Ranchhodji Desai - Public Affairs (1991): He was the first non Congress Prime Minister and is the first Indian to receive the highest civilian awards from India and Pakistan, the Bharat Ratna and Nishaan-e-Pakistan.
16) Shri Rajiv Gandhi - Public Affairs (1991): At the age of 40 he became the youngest Prime Minister to hold the post. Under his regime India marched ahead in various fields related to science and technology. He is also called as the father of telecom revolution.
17) Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel - Public Affairs (1991): the iron man of India who guided India’s integration into a united independent nation. He is also credited for establishing modern All India Services.
18) Dr. Bhimrao Ramji Ambedakr - Public Affairs (1990): He is known as the father of Indian constitution and he had worked tremendously for the upliftment of poor and untouchables. He led many movements to bring them in the mainstream.
19) Dr. Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela - Public Affairs (1990): Mandela is a former South African President and first to be elected in fully representative democratic elections. Mandela started off as an anti-apartheid activist and later become the leader of the African National Congress. He spent 27 years in prison, much of it in a cell on Robben Island, on convictions for crimes that included sabotage committed while spearheading the struggle against apartheid.
20) Shri Marudur Gopalan Ramachandran - Public Affairs(1988): He was the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu from 1977-1988, also he was the first film actor to become CM of a state. He was the founder of Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (ADMK) which was later renamed All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK), also under his regime AIADMK won every state assembly election .
21) Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan - Social Work (Pakistan-1987): He was the first non citizen of India to be conferred this award. A follower of Gandhi who firmly believed in satyagraha. He was also called as Frontier Gandhi; he founded Khudai Khidmatgar, (Red Shirts) and sought unification of India through strikes and peaceful protest.
22) Shri Acharya Vinoba Bhave - Social Work (1983): Maharashtra called him as National Teacher of India and spiritual successor of India. He was the first individual satyagrahi. His marked contributions were Bhudan and Sarvodaya movement.
23) Mother Mary Teresa Bojaxhiu Teresa - Social Work (1980): The saint of gutters who founded Missionary of Charity in Kolkata away from her home in Albania. She won Noble Prize and various other recognitions. She lived to serve million seek and unwanted.
24) Shri Kumaraswamy Kamraj - Public Affairs (1976): known as the Kingmaker in Indian political history. He was also affectionately called as Gandhi of South for his integrity, honesty and simplicity. One of the major accomplishment was introduction of Mid-day meal scheme for poor children.
25) Shri V.V. Giri - Public Affairs (1975): fourth President of India, known for his involvement with Sinn Fien movement in Ireland.
26) Smt. Indira Gandhi - Public Affairs (1971): The only woman Prime Minister of India till date, known for brave diplomatic stand like Operation Blue Star which at the end become the cause of her death.
27) Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri - Public Affairs (1966): He gave the slogan of Jai Jawan Jai Kisan to the country,
28) Dr. Pandurang Vaman Kane - Social Work (1963): he was a notable Indologist and Sanskrit scholar. Famous for his magnum opus in English, History of Dharmasastra subtitled Ancient and Mediaeval Religions and Civil Law in India. This work researched the evolution of code of conduct in ancient and mediaeval India by looking into several texts and manuscripts compiled over the centuries.
29) Dr. Zakir Hussain - Public Affairs (1963): An active youth who founded Jamia Milia Islamia at the age of 23, he served at many prestigious posts including the post of President, he was the first president to die in the office
30) Dr. Rajendra Prasad - Public Affairs (1962): reffered as Desh ratna or Jewel of the country, he served as the president of the constituent assembly that drafted the constitution. He became the first President of India. Dalai Lama in his autobiographical book Freedom in Exile described him as a "true Bodhisatva" and said that his humility brought tears to his eyes.
31) Dr. Bidhan Chandra Roy - Public Affairs (1961): A respected physician and renowned freedom fighter, In India, the Doctors Day is celebrated on the date of his birth (and death) July 1 every year.
32) Shri Purushottam Das Tandon - Public Affairs (1961): He was a freedom fighter. He is widely remembered for his efforts in achieving the Official Language of India status for Hindi. He was customarily given the title Rajarshi.
33) Dr. Dhonde Keshav Karve - Social Work (1958): he was a social reformer, who supported the education of women and organized associations to help Hindu widows get remarried. He was fondly called as Anna or Annasaheb.
34) Pt. Govind Ballabh Pant - Public Affairs (1957): statesman of India, an Indian independence activist and one of the foremost political leaders from Uttarakhand (then in United Provinces) who started the movement to establish Hindi as the national language of India. He became the Chief Minister of United Province and named it later as Uttar Pradesh
35) Dr. Bhagwan Das - Literature & Education (1955): was an Indian theosophist and public figure. For a time he served in the Central Legislative Assembly of undivided India. He became allied with the Hindustani Culture Society and was active in opposing rioting as a form of protest. As an advocate for national freedom from the British rule, he was often in danger of reprisals from the Colonial government.
36) Shri Jawaharlal Nehru - Public Affairs (1955): He was the first Prime Minister of India, one of the visionary which gave India mixed economy, AIIMS and IIMs. He was also one of the founding figures of non-align movement.
37) Dr. M. Vivesvaraya - Civil Service (1955): He was an eminent Indian engineer and statesman. He was also knighted by the British’s for his myriad contributions to the public well-being. Every year, 15th September is celebrated as the Engineer's Day in India in his memory.
38) Shri Chakravarti Rajagopalachari - Public Affairs (1954): He was known as Rajaji or C.R., an Indian lawyer, writer, statesman and a devout Hindu. He was the second Governor-General of independent India. He was one of the first recipients of India's highest civilian award Bharat Ratna (in 1954), the other two being Dr. Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan and Dr. C.V.Raman, all from the same state Tamil Nadu.
39) Dr. Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman - Science & Engineering (1954): A physicist, who was awarded the 1930 Nobel Prize in Physics for his work on the molecular scattering of light and for the discovery of the Raman effect, which is named after him.
40) Dr. Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan - Public Affairs (1954): One of the eminent scholars of comparative religion and philosophy, he built a bridge between Eastern and Western nations by introducing Western idealism into Indian philosophy. He was the first Vice President of India and the second President of India. His birthday is celebrated as Teacher's Day in India.
vinay chandakFebruary 23, 2008 at 12:00 AM
Dr. K. K. JainFebruary 23, 2008 at 12:00 AM
abbas PerwadJanuary 25, 2008 at 12:00 AM