New Delhi | The decision to award the Bharat Ratna to BJP veteran L K Advani and former Bihar chief minister Karpoori Thakur has taken the number of recipients of the country's highest civilian award to 50.
Former deputy prime minister Advani's name was announced as a recipient of the Bharat Ratna on Saturday, 10 days after the Narendra Modi government decided to posthumously honour socialist icon Thakur with the award.
The last Bharat Ratna award was conferred upon Pranab Mukherjee in 2019 and was posthumously awarded to Bhupendra Kumar Hazarika and Nanaji Deshmukh. The award was not given to anyone between 2020 and 2023.
The Government of India had instituted two civilian awards - Bharat Ratna and Padma Vibhushan -- in 1954. The latter had three classes namely Pahela Varg, Dusra Varg and Tisra Varg. These were subsequently renamed as Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan and Padma Shri through a presidential notification on January 8, 1955.
The Bharat Ratna is the highest civilian award of the country. It is awarded in recognition of exceptional service or performance of the highest order in any field of human endeavour. It is treated on a different footing from Padma awards.
The recommendations for Bharat Ratna are made by the prime minister to the president. No formal recommendations for Bharat Ratna are necessary. The number of Bharat Ratna awards is restricted to a maximum of three in a particular year.
However, it was given to four persons in 1999.
It was given to three persons in a year on several occasions, including in 2019, 1997, 1992, 1991, 1955 and 1954.
On several occasions it was given to two persons including in 2015, 2014, 2001, 1998, 1990, 1963 and 1961, while there have also been years when the award was not conferred on anyone.
In the first year, the coveted award was conferred upon C Rajagopalachari, Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan and Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman.
Those conferred this award in the past include Jawaharlal Nehru, Rajendra Prasad, Zakir Hussain, Lal Bahadur Shashtri, Abul Kalam Azad, Indira Gandhi, K Kamraj, Mother Teresa, Vinoba Bhave, M G Ramachandran, B R Ambedkar, Nelson Mandela, Rajiv Gandhi, Vallabhbhai Patel, Morarji Desai, Satyajit Ray, APJ Abdul Kalam, Jayprakash Narayan, Amartya Sen, Sachin Tendulkar, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, and Madan Mohan Malaviya.
The other recipients are Bhagwan Das, M Visvesvaraya, Govind Ballabh Pant, Dhondo Keshav Karve, Bidhan Chandra Roy, Purshottam Das Tandon, Pandurang Vaman Kane, Varahgiri Venkata Giri, Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan, Jahangir Ratanji Dadabhai Tata, Gulzarilala Nanda, Bismillah Khan, M Subbulakshmi, Gopinath Bordoloi, Pandit Ravi Shankar, C N R Rao, Bhimsen Gururaj Joshi, Lata Mangeshkar, Chidambaram Subramaniam, and Aruna Asaf Ali.