The Bharat Ratna is the highest civilian award of the Republic of India. Instituted on 2 January 1954, the award is conferred “in recognition of exceptional service/performance of the highest order”, without distinction of race, occupation, position, or sex.
Total awarded: 48
Last Awarded:- 2019
The first recipients of the Bharat Ratna were politician C. Rajagopalachari, philosopher Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, and scientist C. V. Raman, who was honoured in 1954.
No Bharat Ratna Award has been given in 2020 and 2021
Bharat Ratna Awards: List of Recipients
|1954||C. Rajagopalachari||An Indian independence activist, statesman, and lawyer, Rajagopalachari was the only Indian and last Governor-General of independent India. He was Chief Minister of Madras Presidency (1937–39) and Madras State (1952–54); and founder of Indian political party Swatantra Party|
|A||Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan||Philosopher Radhakrishnan served as India’s first Vice-President (1952–62) and second President (1962–67). Since 1962, his birthday on 5 September is observed as “Teachers’ Day” in India.|
|A||C. V. Raman||Widely known for his work on the scattering of light and the discovery of the effect, better known as “Raman scattering”, Raman mainly worked in the field of atomic physics and electromagnetism and was presented Nobel Prize in Physics in 1930.|
|1955||Bhagwan Das||Independence activist, philosopher, and educationist, Das is a co-founder of Mahatma Gandhi Kashi Vidyapith and worked with Madan Mohan Malaviya for the foundation of Banaras Hindu University|
|A||M. Visvesvaraya||Civil engineer, statesman, and Diwan of Mysore (1912–18), Visvesvaraya was a Knight Commander of the Order of the Indian Empire. His birthday, 15 September, is observed as “Engineer’s Day” in India.|
|A||Jawaharlal Nehru||Independence activist and author, Nehru is the first and the longest-serving Prime Minister of India (1947–64).|
|1957||Govind Ballabh Pant||Independence activist Pant was premier of United Provinces (1937–39, 1946–50) and first Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh (1950–54). He served as Union Home Minister from 1955–61.|
|1958||Dhondo Keshav Karve||Social reformer and educator, Karve is widely known for his works related to woman education and remarriage of Hindu widows. He established the Widow Marriage Association (1883), Hindu Widows Home (1896), and started Shreemati Nathibai Damodar Thackersey Women’s University in 1916.|
|1961||Bidhan Chandra Roy||A physician, political leader, philanthropist, educationist, and social worker, Roy is often considered as “Maker of Modern West Bengal”. He was second Chief Minister of West Bengal (1948–62) and his birthday on 1 July is observed as National Doctors’ Day in India.|
|A||Purushottam Das Tandon||Often titled as “Rajarshi”, Tandon was an independence activist and served as speaker of the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly (1937–50). He was actively involved in a campaign to get official language status to Hindi.|
|1962||Rajendra Prasad||Independence activist, lawyer, statesman, and scholar, Prasad was closely associated with Mahatma Gandhi in the non-cooperation movement for Indian independence. He was later elected as the first President of India (1950–62).|
|1963||Zakir Husain||Independence activist and education philosopher, Husain served as a Vice Chancellor of Aligarh Muslim University (1948–56) and the Governor of Bihar (1957–62). Later, he was elected as second Vice-President of India (1962–67) and went on to become the third President of India (1967–69).|
|A||Pandurang Vaman Kane||Indologist and Sanskrit scholar, Kane is best known for his five volume literary work, History of Dharmaśāstra: Ancient and Medieval Religious and Civil Law in India; the “monumental” work that extends over nearly 6,500 pages and being published from 1930 to 1962.|
|1966||Lal Bahadur Shastri||Known for his slogan “Jai Jawan Jai Kisan” (“Hail the Soldier, Hail the Farmer”), Independence activist Shastri served as second Prime Minister of India (1964–66) and led the country during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965.|
|1971||Indira Gandhi||Known as the “Iron Lady of India”,Gandhi was the Prime Minister of India during 1966–77 and 1980–84. During the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971, her government supported Bangladesh Liberation War which led to the formation of a new country, Bangladesh.|
|1975||V. V. Giri||While studying at the University College Dublin, Giri was involved in the Irish Sinn Féin movement. Returning to India, he organized labour unions and brought them to take active participation in Indian freedom struggle. Post-independence, Giri held positions of Governor of Uttar Pradesh, Kerala and Mysore and various other cabinet ministries. He became the first acting President and was eventually elected as the fourth President of India (1969–74).|
|1976||K. Kamaraj||Independence activist and statesman Kamaraj was a Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu for three terms; 1954–57, 1957–62, and 1962–63.|
|1980||Mother Teresa||“Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta” was a catholic nun and the founder of the Missionaries of Charity, a Roman Catholic religious congregation, Which manages homes for people who are dying of HIV/AIDS, leprosy and tuberculosis. She was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her humanitarian work in 1979 and was beatified on 19 October 2003 by Pope John Paul II and canonised on 4 September 2016 by Pope Francis.|
|1983||Vinoba Bhave||Independence activist, social reformer, and a close associate of Mahatma Gandhi, Bhave is best known for his Bhoodan movement, “Land-Gift Movement”. He was given the honorific title “Acharya” (“teacher”) and was awarded the Ramon Magsaysay Award (1958) for his humanitarian work.|
|1987||Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan*||Widely known as “Frontier Gandhi”, independence activist and Pashtun leader Khan was a follower of Mahatma Gandhi. He joined Khilafat Movement in 1920 and founded Khudai Khidmatgar (“Red Shirt movement”) in 1929.|
|1988||M. G. Ramachandran||Actor turned politician Ramachandran served as Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu for three terms; 1977–80, 1980–84, 1985–87.|
|1990||B. R. Ambedkar||Social reformer and leader of the Dalits, Ambedkar was the Chief architect of the Indian Constitution and also served as the first Law Minister of India. Ambedkar predominantly campaigned against the social discrimination with Dalits, the Hindu varna system. He was associated with the Dalit Buddhist movement and accepted Buddhism as a religion along with his close to half a million followers on 14 October 1956.|
|A||Nelson Mandela||Leader of the Anti-Apartheid Movement in South Africa, Mandela was the President of South Africa (1994–99). Often called as the “Gandhi of South Africa”, Mandela’s African National Congress movement was influenced by Gandhian philosophy. In 1993, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.|
|1991||Rajiv Gandhi||Gandhi was the sixth Prime Minister of India serving from 1984 to 1989.|
|A||Vallabhbhai Patel||Widely known as the “Iron Man of India”, Patel was an independence activist and first Deputy Prime Minister of India (1947–50). Post independence, “Sardar” (“Leader”) Patel worked with V. P. Menon towards dissolving 555 princely states into the Indian union.|
|A||Morarji Desai||Independence activist Desai was the fourth Prime Minister of India (1977–79). He is the only Indian national to be awarded the Nishan-e-Pakistan, highest civilian award given by the Government of Pakistan.|
|1992||Abul Kalam Azad||Independence activist Azad was India’s first Minister of Education and worked towards free primary education. He was widely known as “Maulana Azad” and his birthday on 11 November is observed as National Education Day in India.|
|A||J. R. D. Tata||Industrialist, philanthropist, and aviation pioneer, Tata founded India’s first airline Air India. He is the founder of various institutes including Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Tata Memorial Hospital, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Tata Motors, TCS, National Institute of Advanced Studies, and National Centre for the Performing Arts.|
|A||Satyajit Ray||Having debuted as a director with Pather Panchali (1955), film-maker Ray is credited with bringing world recognition to Indian cinema. In 1984, Ray was awarded the Dadasaheb Phalke Award, India’s highest award in cinema.|
|1997||Gulzarilal Nanda||Independence activist Nanda was two times interim Prime Minister of India (1964, 1966) and two times deputy chairman of the Planning Commission.|
|A||Aruna Asaf Ali||Independence activist Ali is better known for hoisting the Indian flag in Bombay during the Quit India Movement in 1942. Post Independence, Ali was elected as Delhi’s first mayor in 1958.|
|A||A. P. J. Abdul Kalam||Aerospace and defence scientist, Kalam was involved in the development of India’s first satellite launch vehicle SLV III and was the architect of Integrated Guided Missile Development Program. He worked for Indian National Committee for Space Research, Indian Space Research Organisation, Defence Research and Development Laboratory and was appointed as the Scientific Advisor to the Defence Minister, Secretary to Department of Defence Research and Development and Director General of Defence Research and Development Organisation. ater, he served as the eleventh President of India from 2002 until 2007.|
|1998||M. S. Subbulakshmi||Carnatic classical vocalist Subbulakshmi was from Madurai, Tamil Nadu. She is known for her divine voice & often hailed as “Queen of songs”,the first Indian musician to receive the Ramon Magsaysay award for her public service. She was honoured as a resident artist Sthana Vidvana of Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam. Tirupati Urban Development Authority (TUDA) has installed a bronze statue of her in the city. Her many famous renditions include the chanting of Bhaja Govindam, Vishnu Sahasranamam (1000 names of Vishnu), Hari Tuma Haro, Venkateswara Suprabhatam (musical hymns to awaken Lord Balaji early in the morning), Annamacharya Sankirtanas and Tamil Tevaram. She also acted in a few Tamil films in her youth from 1938–1947. She donated many of the royalties on several best sold records to many charity organisations.|
|A||Chidambaram Subramaniam||Independence activist and former Minister of Agriculture of India (1964–66), Subramaniam is known for his contribution towards Green Revolution in India. During the late 1970s, he worked for International Rice Research Institute, Manila, and the International Maize and Wheat Research Institute, Mexico|
|1999||Jayaprakash Narayan||Independence activist, social reformer, and commonly referred as “Loknayak” (“People’s Leader”), Narayan is better known for “Total Revolution Movement” or “JP Movement” initiated during the mid-1970s to “overthrow the corrupt and exploitative Congress government”.|
|A||Amartya Sen||Winner of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences (1998) Sen has done research over several topics including social choice theory, ethics and political philosophy, welfare economics, decision theory, development economics, public health, and gender studies.|
|A||Gopinath Bordoloi||Independence activist Bordoloi was the first Chief Minister of Assam (1946–50). His efforts and association with the then Minister of Home Affairs Vallabhbhai Patel were widely acknowledged while keeping Assam united with India when parts of it were to merge with East Pakistan|
|A||Ravi Shankar||Winner of four Grammy Awards and often considered “the world’s best-known exponent of Hindustani classical music”, sitar player Shankar is known for his collaborative work with Western musicians including Yehudi Menuhin and George Harrison.|
|2001||Lata Mangeshkar||Widely credited as the “nightingale of India”, playback singer Mangeshkar started her career in the 1940s and has sung songs in over 36 languages In 1989, Mangeshkar was awarded the Dadasaheb Phalke Award, India’s highest award in cinema.|
|A||Bismillah Khan||Hindustani classical shehnai player, Khan played the instrument for more than eight decades and is credited to have brought the instrument to the centre stage of Indian music.|
|2009||Bhimsen Joshi||Hindustani classical vocalist, Joshi was a disciple of Kirana gharana, an Indian musical school. He is widely known for the Khyal genre of singing with a “mastery over rhythm and accurate notes”.|
|2014||C. N. R. Rao||The recipient of Honorary Doctorates from 63 Universities including Purdue, IIT Bombay, Oxford, chemist and professor Rao has worked prominently in the fields of Solid State and Materials Chemistry, Spectroscopy and Molecular Structure. He has authored around 1600 research papers and 48 books.|
|2014||Sachin Tendulkar||Having debuted in 1989, Tendulkar played 664 international cricket matches in a career spanning over two decades. He holds various cricket records including the only player to have scored one hundred international centuries, the first batsman to score a double century in a One Day International and the only player to complete more than 30,000 runs in both ODI and Test cricket.|
|2015||Madan Mohan Malaviya||Scholar and educational reformer Malaviya is a founder of Akhil Bharatiya Hindu Mahasabha (1906) and Banaras Hindu University and served as the university’s vice-chancellor from 1919 until 1938. He was the President of Indian National Congress for four terms and was the Chairman of Hindustan Times from 1924 to 1946.|
|2015||Atal Bihari Vajpayee||Parliamentarian for over four decades, Vajpayee was elected nine times to the Lok Sabha, twice to the Rajya Sabha and served as the Prime Minister of India for three terms; 1996, 1998, 1999–2004. He was Minister of External Affairs during 1977–79 and was awarded the “Best Parliamentarian” in 1994.|
|2019||Pranab Mukherjee||Mukherjee is an Indian politician who served as the 13th President of India from 2012 until 2017. In a political career spanning five decades, Mukherjee has been a senior leader in the Indian National Congress and has occupied several ministerial portfolios in the Government of India. Prior to his election as President, he was Union Finance Minister from 2009 to 2012.|
|2019||Bhupen Hazarika||Hazarika (8 September 1926 – 5 November 2011) was an Indian playback singer, lyricist, musician, poet and film-maker from Assam, widely known as Sudhakantha. His songs, written and sung mainly in the Assamese language by himself, are marked by humanity and universal brotherhood and have been translated and sung in many languages, most notably in Bengali and Hindi.|
|2019||Nanaji Deshmukh||Chandikadas Amritrao Deshmukh also known as Nanaji Deshmukh (11 October 1916 – 27 February 2010) was a social activist from India. He worked in the fields of education, health, and rural self-reliance. He was a leader of the Bharatiya Jana Sangh and also a member of the Rajya Sabha.|
FAQs on Bharat Ratna Awards
2 January 1954
This award is given for service to the country. Bharat Ratna Award was given for art, literature, public service and sports. At the time when this award was instituted, there was no rule to give this award posthumously. But after 1955, the tradition of giving this award posthumously was started.
Bharat Ratna is the highest civilian award in India. This award is given for national service. These services include arts, literature, science, public service and sports.
Indira Gandhi was the first woman in India to be awarded the Bharat Ratna. He was awarded the Bharat Ratna for the society. She served as the Prime Minister of India from 1966–1977.
Sachin Tendulkar, the master blaster who left an indelible mark in the world of cricket, is the youngest person to receive this honour.
Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, also known as Frontier Gandhi and Badshah Khan. He was the first foreign national to receive the Bharat Ratna.
Mukherjee is the fifth President to receive this highest civilian honour. Former President Dr. S. Radhakrishnan, Dr. Rajendra Prasad, Dr. Zakir Hussain and VV Giri have received this honor.