What is Bharat Ratna Award?

Bharat Ratna is the highest civilian award given by the Government of India for exceptional service to the arts, literature, science, politicians, thinkers, scientists, industrialists, writers and philanthropists and in recognition of high civil service.

When was the Bharat Ratna Award instituted?

The country's highest civilian award 'Bharat Ratna' was instituted by the then Indian President Shri Rajendra Prasad on 02 January 1954. This decoration is awarded to those persons who have done important work in any field of the country, by doing excellent work in their respective fields, brought pride to our country and our country got international recognition. The first Bharat Ratna was awarded to the country's second President Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan in 1954. So far 53 personalities from different fields have been honored with Bharat Ratna.

Brief information about Bharat Ratna Award:

Category of award Civil honor
Establishment year 1954
Prize money -
First winner Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, Chandrasekhar Venkataraman, Chakravarti Rajagopalachari (1954)
last winner of the award Karpoori Thakur, LK Advani, PV Narasimha Rao, Charan Singh, MS Swaminathan (2024)
Description Bharat Ratna is the highest civilian honor of India

Important facts related to Bharat Ratna Award:

  • Bharat Ratna is given by the President of India on 26 January.
  • The first award was given to the famous scientist Chandrasekhar Venkataraman.
  • Since then this award has been presented to many eminent persons for achieving excellence in their respective fields.
  • The award was discontinued in 1977 by the Janata Party, but was reintroduced by the Congress government in 1980.
  • When the Bharat Ratna Award was reintroduced in 1980, it was first received by Mother Teresa.
  • Our former President, Scientist Dr. A. P.J. Abdul Kalam was also given this prestigious award in 1997.
  • There is no written provision that 'Bharat Ratna' will be given only to Indian citizens.
  • This award was given to a natural Indian citizen 'Agnes Gonkha Bozakhiyu', who we know as Mother Teresa.
  • Two other non-Indians - Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan were given the award in 1987 and Nelson Mandela in 1990. It is also not mandatory that Bharat Ratna award will be given every year.
  • Bharat Ratna can be given to a maximum of three persons in a year.
  • For the first time Lal Bahadur Shastri was awarded the Bharat Ratna posthumously.
  • Shri Satyapal Anand challenged the process of posthumously awarding Bharat Ratna to Rajiv Gandhi in the Madhya Pradesh High Court.

List of Bharat Ratna Awardees since 1954 till date:

Year Names of winners Life span and important facts
1954 Dr Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan (September 05, 1888-April 17, 1975)
1954 Chakravarti Rajagopalachari (December 10, 1878-December 25, 1972)
1954 Dr. Chandrasekhara Venkataraman (07 November, 1888-21 November, 1970)
1955 Dr Bhagwan Das (January 12, 1869 -September 18, 1958)
1955 Sir Dr. Mokshagundam Visvesvaraya (September 15, 1860-April 12, 1962)
1955 Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru (14 November, 1889-27 May, 1964)
1957 Govind Vallabh Pant (September 10, 1887-March 07, 1961)
1958 Dr Dhondo Keshav Karve (April 18, 1858-November 09, 1962)
1961 Dr. Bidhan Chandra Roy (July 01, 1882-July 01, 1962)
1961 Purushottam Das Tandon (August 01, 1882-July 01, 1962)
1962 Dr Rajendra Prasad (December 03, 1884-February 28, 1963)
1963 Dr. Zakir Hussain (February 08, 1897-May 03, 1969)
1963 Dr. Panduranga Vaman Kane (07 May 1880-08 May 1972)
1966 Lal Bahadur Shastri (Posthumously) (October 02, 1904-January 11, 1966), after death
1971 Indira Gandhi (19 November, 1917-31 October, 1984)
1975 Varahagiri Venkata Giri (August 10, 1894-June 23, 1980)
1976 K. Kamaraj (Posthumously) (July 15, 1903–1975) 
1980 Mother Teresa (August 27, 1910-September 05, 1997)
1983 Acharya Vinoba Bhave (Posthumously) (September 11, 1895–November 15, 1982), posthumously
1987 Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan  (06 February 1890 -20 January, 1988), first non-Indian
1988 Dr. M.G. Ramachandran (Posthumously) (January 17, 1917–December 24, 1987), after death
1990 Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar (Posthumously) (April 14, 1891-December 06, 1956), after death
1990 Nelson Mandela (July 18, 1918-December 05, 2013), other non-Indians
1991 Rajiv Gandhi (Posthumously) (August 20, 1944–May 21, 1991) 
1991 Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel (Posthumously) (October 31, 1875–December 15, 1950), after death
1991 Morarji Desai (February 29, 1896–April 10, 1995)
1992 Maulana Abul Kalam Azad (Posthumously) (November 11, 1888–February 22, 1958) 
1992 J. R. D. Tata (July 29, 1904-November 29, 1993)
1992 Satyajit Ray (May 02, 1921-April 23, 1992)
1997 A. P. J Abdul Kalam (15 October, 1931-27 July, 2015)
1997 Gulzari Lal Nanda (July 04, 1898-January 15, 1998)
1997 Aruna Asaf Ali (Posthumously) (July 16, 1909 -July 29, 1996) 
1998 M. S. Subbulakshmi (September 16, 1916-December 11, 2004)
1998 C. Subramaniam (January 30, 1910-November 07, 2000)
1998 Jayaprakash Narayan (Posthumously) (October 11, 1902–October 08, 1979), after death
1999 Pandit Ravi Shankar (April 07, 1920-December 12, 2012)
1999 Amartya Sen (03 November 1933-present)
1999 Gopinath Bordoloi (1890–1950), posthumously
2001 Lata Mangeshkar (September 28, 1929)
2001 Ustad Bismillah Khan (March 21, 1916-August 21, 2006)
2008 Pandit Bhimsen Joshi (04 February, 1922 -05 January, 2011)
2014 C.N.R. Rao (June 30, 1934-present) 
2014 Sachin Tendulkar (April 24, 1973-present) 
2015 Atal Bihari Vajpayee (December 25, 1924-August 16 2018) 
2015 Madan Mohan Malaviya (Posthumously) (December 25, 1861- November 12, 1946, after death) 
2019 Pranab Mukherjee (11 December 1935) 
2019 Bhupen Hazarika (Posthumously) (September 8, 1926-November 5, 2011 posthumously) 
2019 Nanaji Deshmukh (Posthumously) (October 11, 1916 – February 27, 2010 after death)
2024 Karpuri Thakur (Posthumously) (January 24, 1924 – February 17, 1988) 
2024 Lal Krishna Advani (November 8, 1927 - Present) 
2024 PV Narasimha Rao (28 June 1921 – 23 December 2004)
2024 Charan Singh (23 December 1902 – 29 May 1987)
2024 MS Swaminathan (7 August 1925 – 28 September 2023)

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Satyajit Rai is the first filmmaker to be awarded the Bharat Ratna Award. This award was given to him in 1992.

In 1992, Jehangir Ratanji Dadabhai Tata (JRD Tata) was awarded the country's highest civilian honor "Bharat Ratna" by the Government of India. He got this award because of his selfless humanitarian efforts.

Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose was awarded the Bharat Ratna in 1992. But his death raised concerns about the posthumous reference to the award, which led the Indian government to withdraw the award.

Sachin Tendulkar is the first sportsperson and the youngest person to be awarded the Bharat Ratna, India's highest civilian honour. Also, he is the first cricketer to be honored with the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award.

In 1997, former President of India, Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam was honored with India's prestigious award Bharat Ratna. His full name was Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam. Apart from this, he is also called by the name of Missile Man and President of the people.

  Last update :  Fri 9 Feb 2024
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