• Also known as the Jewel of India, it is the highest civilian award in India.
• The award was instituted on 2nd January 1954 to honour people in recognition of their exceptional service of the
highest order without any distinction of race, occupation, position, or sex.
• The award is conferred in any field of human endeavour including achievements in the field of arts, literature,
science, and public services.
• The recommendations for the Bharat Ratna are commenced by the Prime Minister to the President, with
a maximum of three nominees being awarded per year.
• The recipients of the award receive a Sanad (certificate) signed by the President and a peepal-leaf–shaped medallion; there is no monetary grant associated with the award.
• C. Rajagopalachari, Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, and C. V. Raman were the first recipients of the Bharat Ratna in 1954.
• The award to naturalised citizen, Mother Teresa is the only one till date whereas the two non-Indians to receive
the award are Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan (Pakistan) and former South African President Nelson Mandela
Controversies surrounding the Bharat Ratna
• A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) was filed at the Calcutta High court following the announcement of conferring
Subhash Chandra Bose posthumously with the Nobel Prize in 1992. Owing to the controversy surrounding Bose’s
death, the posthumous mention of Bose was criticised, and his family also refused to accept the award. Finally
the Supreme Court in 1997 passed an order to revoke the award as the Government of India had not officially
accepted death of Bose on 18th August 1945.
• Other controversies include filing of PILs challenging the award being conferred to C. N. R. Rao and Sachin
Tendulkar. The PIL against Rao stated that otherscientists like Vikram Sarabhai and Homi Bhabha fitted better in
the criteria of being awarded the prestigious Bharat Ratna than Rao. In case of cricketer Sachin Tendulkar the PIL
was filed to the election Commission of India under the RTI act claiming that conferring Tendulkar with the award
is a technique to woo the voters as election process in Delhi, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, and
Mizoram were underway at the time. Both the petitions were rejected in the respective high courts.
1954 – C. Rajagopalachari, Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, C. V. Raman
1955- Bhagwan Das, M. Visvesvaraya, Jawaharlal Nehru
1957- Govind Ballabh Pant
1958- Dhondo Keshav Karve
1961- Bidhan Chandra Roy, Purushottam Das Tandon
1962- Rajendra Prasad
1963- Zakir Husain, Pandurang Vaman Kane
1966- Lal Bahadur Shastri
1971- Indira Gandhi
1975- V. V. Giri
1976- K. Kamaraj
1980- Mother Teresa
1983- Vinoba Bhave
1987- Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan
1988 – M. G. Ramachandran
1990- B. R. Ambedkar, Nelson Mandela
1991- Rajiv Gandhi, Morarji Desai, Vallabhbhai Patel
1992- Abul Kalam Azad, J. R. D. Tata, Satyajit Ray
1997- Gulzarilal Nanda, Aruna Asaf Ali, A. P.J. Abdul Kalam
1998- M. S. Subbulakshmi, Chidambaram Subramaniam
1999- Jayaprakash Narayan, Amartya Sen, Gopinath Bordoloi, Ravi Shankar
2001- Lata Mangeshkar, Bismillah Khan
2009- Bhimsen Joshi
2014- C. N. R. Rao, Sachin Tendulkar
2015 – Madan Mohan Malaviya, Atal Bihari Vajpayee