Bharat Ratna- Highest Civilian Award in India

This article is about the Bharat Ratna Award, the highest civilian award in India. This topic is an important part of UPSC and other government exams.


Bharat Ratna – ‘Jewel of India’ is the highest civilian award of the country. It is conferred for exceptional Service to the nation in various fields such as Science arts, literature and recognition of public service of the highest order. The award can be granted posthumously and since its establishment, seven awards were granted posthumously.

  • The award was established by formal President of India Rajendra Prasad on 2nd January 1954.
  • The concept of awarding this award posthumously was not there in the original statute declared in January 1954.
  • Provision to award posthumously was finally added in January 1966 statute of this prestigious award.
  • First Bharat Ratna was awarded to Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan, Sir C.V. Raman, and Chakravarti Rajagopalachari in 1954.
  • Sachin Tendulkar is the first sportsperson and the youngest Bharat Ratna Award, recipient.

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  • The medallion is cast in Bronze.
  • The medallion is designed like the leaf of pipal tree with sunburst in the centre and Bharat Ratna is engraved underneath it.
  • On the backside, the emblem of India is embossed and Satyameva Jayate is inscribed in Devanagari script.
  • The medallion is worn around the neck using a white ribbon.
  • The award does not carry any monetary endowment.
  • The award was initially restricted to accomplishments in the literature, science, arts, and public services, but the government of India expanded the conditions to comprise “any field of human endeavour” in 2011.
  • There is no written provision that Bharat Ratna should be awarded to Indian citizens only.
  • Recently Government of India has altered guidelines for eligibility of persons from the sports field for the Bharat Ratna.
  • The recommendations for Bharat Ratna are made by the Prime Minister to the President.
  • The number of yearly awards is constrained to a maximum of three in a specific year.
  • In 1992, Subhash Chandra Bose was awarded Bharat Ratna posthumously. As there is no solid evidence of Subhash Chandra Bose’s death his family declined to receive the award.


List of Bharat Ratna Awardees:

Bharat Ratna Awardees Year Brief Description
C. Rajagopalachari 1954 Indian politician, independence activist, lawyer, writer, historian and statesman.

 Rajagopalachari was the last Governor-General of India

Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan 1954 Indian philosopher and statesman.

 First Vice President of India 

C. V. Raman 1954 Indian physicist who carried out ground-breaking work in the field of light scattering

Nobel Laureate(Physics)

Bhagwan Das 1955 Indian Theosophist and a part of Central Legislative Assembly of British India
M. Visvesvaraya 1955 Civil Engineer & Statesman
Jawaharlal Nehru 1955 Indian independence activist, 

First Prime Minister of India 

Govind Ballabh Pant 1957 Indian freedom fighter 

One of the architects of modern India

Dhondo Keshav Karve 1958 A social reformer in India in the field of women’s welfare
Bidhan Chandra Roy 1961 An eminent Indian physician, educationist, philanthropist, freedom fighter and politician 

He served as the Chief Minister of West Bengal from 1948 

Purushottam Das Tandon 1961 A freedom fighter from Uttar Pradesh, India.

 He has put enormous efforts into achieving the Official Language of India status for Hindi.

Rajendra Prasad 1962 First President of India
Zakir Husain 1963 Third President of India
Pandurang Vaman Kane 1963 Indologist and Sanskrit scholar
Lal Bahadur Shastri 1966 Second Prime Minister of India
Indira Gandhi 1971 The only female Prime Minister of India
V. V. Giri 1975 Fourth President of India
K. Kamaraj 1976 A leader of the Indian National Congress
Mother Teresa  1980 An Albanian-Indian Roman Catholic nun and missionary
Vinoba Bhave 1983 An Indian advocate of nonviolence and human rights
Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan 1987 A Pashtun independence activist 
M. G. Ramachandran 1988 An Indian actor, filmmaker and politician who served as the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu.
B. R. Ambedkar 1990 An Indian jurist, economist, politician and social reformer who was a part of the Dalit Buddhist movement 
Nelson Mandela 1990 A South African revolutionary, political leader, and philanthropist who served as President of South Africa
Rajiv Gandhi 1991 An Indian politician who served as the 6th Prime Minister of India
Vallabhbhai Patel 1991 The First Deputy Prime Minister of India
Morarji Desai 1991 An Indian independence activist 

4th Prime Minister of India

Abul Kalam Azad 1992 An Indian scholar, independence activist, and a senior leader of the Indian National Congress
J. R. D. Tata 1992 Chairman of Tata Group
Satyajit Ray 1992 Indian filmmaker, screenwriter, music composer, graphic artist, lyricist and author
Aruna Asaf Ali 1997 An Indian independence activist

First Mayor of Delhi

Gulzarilal Nanda 1997 Indian politician and economist who specialized in labour issues
Dr A.P.J Abdul Kalam 1997 Missile Man of India
M. S. Subbulakshmi 1998 Indian Carnatic singer from Madurai, Tamil Nadu
Chidambaram Subramaniam 1998 An Indian politician and Independence activist
Jayaprakash Narayan 1999 Indian independence activist, theorist, socialist and political leader
Amartya Sen 1999 Indian economist and philosopher
Gopinath Bordoloi 1999 First Chief Minister of Assam
Ravi Shankar 1999 An Indian musician and a composer of Hindustani classical music
Lata Mangeshkar 2001 Indian playback singer and music director
Bismillah Khan 2001 Indian musician credited with popularizing the shehnai
Bhimsen Joshi 2009 Indian vocalist from Karnataka 
C. N. R. Rao 2014 Currently, the Head of the Scientific Advisory Council to the Prime Minister of India
Sachin Tendulkar 2014 Former captain of the Indian national team and one of the greatest batsman in the history of Cricket.
Madan Mohan Malaviya 2015 An Indian educationist and politician
Atal Bihari Vajpayee 2015 Indian politician, statesman and a poet.

He served three terms as the Prime Minister of India

Pranab Mukherjee 2019 13th President of India
Nanaji Deshmukh 2019 Social Activist
Bhupen Hazarika 2019 An Indian playback singer, lyricist, musician, singer, poet and film-maker from Assam

List of Bharat Ratna Awardees 1954 to 2019:- Download PDF Here

Multiple Choice Questio

Q.1 Consider the following statements

  1. The 1st singer to be awarded Bharat Ratna was Lata Mangeshkar.
  2. Former South African President, Nelson Mandela, is the only non-Indian to receive Bharat Ratna.
  3. The recommendations for the Bharat Ratna are made by the Prime Minister to the President, with a maximum of three nominees being awarded per year. The recipients receive a Sanad (certificate) signed by the President and a peepal leaf-shaped medallion. There is no monetary grant associated with the award.
  4. M. Visvesvaraya was awarded Bharat Ratna in 1955. His birthday, 15 September, is observed as “Engineer’s Day” in India.

Choose the correct answer from the below-given options

A) Only statements 1 and 2 are false.

B) Only statements 3 and 4 are false.

C) All the above statements are true.

D) All the above statements are false.

Q.2 In the Indian Order of Precedence at what number do Bharat Ratna recipients rank?

A) Sixth

B) First

C) Seventh

D) Second

Answer: C) Seventh

Frequently Asked Questions about Bharat Ratna


How many people can be nominated for a Bharat Ratna?

The recommendations for the Bharat Ratna are made by the Prime Minister to the President, with a maximum of three nominees being awarded per year. The recipients receive a Sanad (certificate) signed by the President and a peepal leaf-shaped medallion. There is no monetary grant associated with the award. Bharat Ratna recipients rank seventh in the Indian order of precedence.

Who were the first recipients of the Bharat Ratna?

The first recipients of the Bharat Ratna were: the last Governor-General of the Dominion of India – C. Rajagopalachari, second President and the first Vice President of India – Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, and Nobel Prize Laureate, Physicist C. V. Raman; who were honoured in 1954.

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