(Last Updated on : 27/11/2014)
Bharat Ratna Award is the most prestigious and honourable civilian award, presented by the Government of India
. The award is given for the highest degrees of national service and mainly for artistic, literary and scientific achievements. The award is also given for 'recognition of public service of the highest order'. Though the recipients of Bharat Ratna Award carry no special title like Knights in England, they do occupy a special place among all the civilians. The term Bharat Ratna means; the "Jewel of India" or the "Gem of India". A total of 41 extraordinary talents from India have been awarded the Bharat Ratna award from its inception.
History of Bharat Ratna
The Bharat Ratna Award was introduced in the year 1954 and the first President of India
, Rajendra Prasad
presented the award to Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan
on 2nd January, 1954. Since then, the award is being given to the best talents of India, on a regular basis.
However, it was suspended for a brief period from 13th July 1977 to 26th January 1980. The Bharat Ratna has been given posthumously to 43 'Jewels of India' so far, including the one presented to Subhash Chandra Bose
in 1992. However, the award to Netaji was withdrawn later due to a legal technicality and this was the only case of a Bharat Ratna award being withdrawn.
is said to be the youngest personality to have received the Bharat Ratna when he became its recipient at the age of 40. The eldest Indian who lived to received Bharat Ratna award was Dhondo Keshav Karve
at the age of 100.
Design of Bharat Ratna
The design of the award undergone certain transitions, as in its very first year, a circular gold
medal, with a diameter of 35 millimetre, was given to the winner. The sun was there on the obverse of the medal and the term 'Bharat Ratna' was also written in Hindi
script with a floral wreath below. The state emblem and motto was there on the reverse of the medal. The winners then used to wear it around their neck from a white ribbon.
However, the design of the Bharat Ratna Award was altered within one year after its inception and there is no evidence available about whether any specimens of the design were made. The award is now designed in the shape of a leaf from Pipal tree
and the term 'Bharat Ratna' is written in Hindi language
, in the front side of the award.
The reverse side of the award carries the state emblem and motto and is attached to a two-inch long ribbon. The winners wear it around their neck. The pipal leaf shaped award measures about 5.8 metres in length, 3.1 metres in thickness and 4.7 cm in width and is made of toned bronze metal. The reverse end also possesses the image of sun which is about 1.6 cm in diameter, below which are engraved the terms 'Bharat Ratna' in Devanagari script.
There is no strict or formal provision that the recipients of the Bharat Ratna Award ought to be Indian citizens. This is why two non-Indians and a naturalised Indian citizen have so far been presented the award. They are the naturalised Indian citizen, Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu, better known as Mother Teresa
(1980); and the two non-Indians, Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan (1987) and Nelson Mandela (1990). The Bharat Ratna Awardees are regarded to be the greatest talents India has ever produced, in different fields.