List of Bharat Ratna Award Winners (1954 – 2015)
The Bharat Ratna, which was instituted in 1954 by the government of India, is the country’s highest and most prestigious civilian award and ranks seventh in the order of precedence. The award is given “in recognition of exceptional service/performance of the highest order”. It is a merit-based award and is presented to the winners without any distinction of position, race, sex, or occupation. Prior to 2011, the award was only given for achievements in the fields of science, arts, literature, and public services. However, in December 2011, achievements in “any field of human endeavour” was also included thereby expanding the criteria of the awards. Every year, a maximum of three awards are presented. The Bharat Ratna awards are given by the President of India; however, the recommendations are made by the Prime Minister.Over the years many noted personalities in the fields of politics, business, sports, music, etc have received the Bharat Ratna awards. Below we present a list of the winners.
C Rajagopalachari (Awarded the Bharat Ratna in 1954) C Rajagopalachari was the Governor General of independent India from 1948 to 1950. He was the first and last Indian to hold this post. He was the Chief Minister of the Madras Presidency from 1937 to 1939 during the British rule. In independent India, he served as the Chief Minister of the Madras State from 1952 to 1954. He also founded the Swatantra Party. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan (Awarded the Bharat Ratna in 1954) Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan was a renowned philosopher. He was the Vice President of India from 1952 to 1962. In 1962 he was appointed as the President of India. His birthday, which falls on September 5, is celebrated as Teacher’s Day in India. CV Raman (Awarded the Bharat Ratna in 1954) C VRaman was an internationally acclaimed scientist. Raman, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1930, is known around the world for his work Raman Scattering, which deals with the scattering of light and the discovery of the effect. Bhagwan Das (Awarded the Bharat Ratna in 1955) An Indian theosophist, Bhagwan Das co-founded the Mahatma Gandhi Kashi Vidyapith in 1921. He also assisted Madan Mohan Malaviya in the establishment of the Banaras Hindu University. M Visvesvaraya (Awarded the Bharat Ratna in 1955) M Visvesvaraya was an acclaimed engineer and every year his birthday, which falls on 15 September, is celebrated as Engineer’s Day in India. He undertook many important projects and was the chief designer of Hyderabad’s flood protection system. Jawahar Lal Nehru (Awarded the Bharat Ratna in 1955) Jawahar Lal Nehru, who was a leading figure in the Indian independence movement, became the first Prime Minister of free India. He was the longest serving Prime Minister of India and held office from 1947 to 1964. Fondly known as Chacha Nehru, his birthday, on November 14, is observed around the country as Children’s Day. Govind Ballabh Pant (Awarded the Bharat Ratna in 1957) Govind Ballabh Pant played an important role in the freedom movement. He also played a prominent role in the government during British rule as well as in independent India. He twice served as the premier of the United Provinces – 1937 to 1939 and 1946 to 1950. He was the first chief minister of Uttar Pradesh from 1950 to 1954. In 1955, he became the Home Minister of India. Dhondo Keshav Karve (Awarded the Bharat Ratna in 1958) Karve was a social reformer and educator. He played a vital role in the upliftment of women in the country. He worked in the fields of remarriage of Hindu widows and also education of women. He is known to have started many organizations for women development such as the Widow Marriage Association and the Hindu Widows Home. In 1916, he established the Shreemati Nathibai Damodar Thackersey Women’s University. Bidhan Chandra Roy (Awarded the Bharat Ratna in 1961) Bidhan Chandra Roy was a reputed physician and was also a freedom fighter. He was the Chief Minister of Bengal from 1948 to 1962. Regarded as the Maker of Modern West Bengal, his birthday on 1 July is observed around the country as National Doctor’s Day. Purushottam Das Tandon (Awarded the Bharat Ratna in 1961) A freedom fighter, Purushottam Das Tandon was given the title of Rajarshi. He is remebered for his campaign to provide Hindi with the official language status. Rajendra Prasad (Awarded Bharat Ratna in 1962) Rajendra Prasad was the President of India from 1950 to 1962. he was a freedom fighter and was involved in the non-cooperation movement. He was also a great scholar, a lawyer, and statesman. Zakir Husain (Awarded Bharat Ratna in 1963) Zakir Hussain was the Vice President of India from 1962 to 1967 and the President from 1967 to 1969. A freedom fighter, he was also the Vice Chancellor of the Aligarh Muslim University from 1948 to 1956. Pandurang Vaman Kane (Awarded Bharat Ratna in 1963) Kane was a Sanskrit scholar as well as Indologist. He is noted for his monumental work History of Dharmaśāstra: Ancient and Medieval Religious and Civil Law in India. Lal Bahadur Shastri (Awarded Bharat Ratna in 1966) Lal Bahadur Shastri was the Prime Minister of India from 1964 to 1966. He led the nation in the war against Pakistan in 1965. He is famous for his slogan Jai Jawan Jai Kisan. Indira Gandhi (Awarded the Bharat Ratna in 1971) India Gandhi, the prime minister of India from 1966 to 1977, and 1980 to 1984, is also known as the Iron Lady of India. She liberated Bangladesh in the Indo-Pakistan War of 1971. V V Giri (Awarded the Bharat Ratna in 1975) A noted freedom fighter, V V Giri was the first acting president of India and was elected as the President in 1969. K Kamraj (Awarded the Bharat Ratna in 1976) A freedom fighter, Kamraj was the chief minister of Tamil Nadu from 1954–57, 1957–62, and 1962–63. Mother Teresa (Awarded the Bharat Ratna in 1980) Mother Teresa is noted for her charity work. A Catholic nun, she founded the Missionaries of Charity. She received the Nobel Peace Price in 1979. On 19 October 2003, she was beatified by Pope John Paul II. Pope Francis canonized her on 4 September 2016. Vinoba Bhave (Awarded the Bharat Ratna in 1983) A freedom fighter and social reformer, he is famous for the Bhoodan movement, which was a Land- Gift movement. In 1958, he was awarded the Ramon Magsaysay Award. Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan (Awarded the Bharat Ratna in 1987) A prominent freedom fighter, Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan founded the Khudai Khidmatgar in 1929. a staunch follower of Mahatma Gandhi, he was also known as the Frontier Gandhi. M G Ramachandran (Awarded the Bharat Ratna in 1988) Ramachandran who was an actor later joined politics. He was the chief minister of Tamil Nadu during the years 1977–80, 1980–84, and 1985–87. B R Ambedkar (Awarded the Bharat Ratna in 1990) A Dalit leader, B R Ambedkar vigorously campaigned against social discrimination that Dalits had to face. Following independence, Ambedkar drafter the Indian Constitution. He was also the first Law Minister of the country. Nelson Mandela (Awarded the Bharat Ratna in 1990) Mandela played an important role in South Africa’s Anti-Apartheid Movement. He also served as the President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999. Mandela, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993, is also called the Gandhi of South Africa. Rajiv Gandhi (Awarded Bharat in 1991) He was the Prime Minister of India from 1984 to 1989. Sworn in at the age of 40, he was the youngest Prime Minister of India. Vallabhbhai Patel (Awarded Bharat Ratna in 1991) A freedom fighter, Vallabhbhai Patel was instrumental in integrating the princely states into the Indian Union. Thus he came to be known as the Iron Man of India. Morarji Desai (Awarded Bharat Ratna in 1991) He was the Prime Minister of India from 1977 to 1979. Desai bagged Nishan-e-Pakistan, the highest civilian award presented by the Pakistan government. He is the only Indian to get this honour. Abdul Kalam Azad (Awarded Bharat Ratna in 1992) A freedom fighter, Abdul Kalam Azad was the first Minister of Education. Every year 11 November, which is Kalam’s birthday, is observed as the National Education Day in India. JRD Tata (Awarded Bharat Ratna in 1992) JRD Tata was an industrialist as well as philanthropist. Among his many achievements is the He establishment of Air India as well as institutes such as Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research etc. Satyajit Ray (Awarded Bharat Ratna in 1992) One of the greatest filmmakers, Ray also received Dadasaheb Phalke Award in 1984. One of his most famous works is Pather Panchali. Gulzarilal Nanda (Awarded Bharat Ratna in 1997) Two times deputy chairman of the Planning Commission, Nanda also served as the interim Prime Minister of India in 1964 and 1966. Aruna Asaf Ali (Awarded Bharat Ratna in 1997) Aruna Asaf Ali, who played a prominent role in India’s freedom struggle became the first mayor of Delhi in 1958. A P J Abdul Kalam (Awarded Bharat Ratna in 1997) Kalam was an acclaimed aerospace and defense scientist. He was the brain behind the Integrated Guided Missile Development Program. He was the President of India from 2002 to 2007. MS Subbulakshmi (Awarded Bharat Ratna in 1998) Subbulakshmi was a Carnatic classical vocalist. She won the Ramon Magsaysay award, becoming the first Indian to get the honor. He is also called the Queen of Songs. Chidambaram Subramaniam (Awarded Bharat Ratna in 1998) Subramaniam was India’s Agriculture Minister form 1964 to 1966. He made a significant contribution towards Green Revolution. Jayaprakash Narayan (Awarded Bharat Ratna in 1999) Known as Lok Nayak, Jayaprakash Narayan is known for his struggle against the government of Indira Gandhi in the 1970s. For this he initiated the Total Revolution Movement. Amartya Sen (Awarded Bharat Ratna in 1999) Amartya Sen is a noted economist. Sen who has done research in a number of topics won the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 1998. Gopinath Bordoloi (Awarded Bharat Ratna in 1999) The Chief Minister of Assam form 1946 to 1950, Bordoloi played a prominent role in keeping Assam united with India during the partition. Ravi Shankar (Awarded Bharat Ratna in 1999) Ravi Shankar was an internationally acclaimed sitar player. He has won four Grammy Awards. He extensively collaborated with George Harrison. Lata Mangeshkar (Awarded Bharat Ratna in 2001) Due to her melodious voice, Lata Mangeshkar is referred as the Nightingale of India. She holds the distinction of having sung in more than 36 languages. She won the Dadasaheb Phalke Award in 1989. Bismillah Khan (Awarded Bharat Ratna in 2001) Shehnai player, Bismillah Khan achieved fame not only in India but around the world. He played a prominent role in popularizing the shehnai. Bhimsen Joshi (Awarded Bharat Ratna in 2009) Bhimsen Joshi was an acclaimed vocalist from the state of Karnataka. He received the Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowship in 1998. CNR Rao (Awarded Bharat Ratna in 2014) A professor and chemist, he has significantly worked in Spectroscopy, Molecular Structure, Solid State, and Materials Chemistry. Sachin Tendulkar (Awarded Bharat Ratna in 2014) One of the world’s best cricket players, Sachin Tendulkar has played 664 international matches. In his career of more than two decades, he has held many records such as the first batsman to score a double century in a One Day International etc. Madan Mohan Malaviya (Awarded Bharat Ratna in 2015) He founded the Banaras Hindu University. He also served as the president of the Indian National Congress. From 1924 to 1946, he was the chairman of the Hindustan Times. Atal Bihari Vajpayee (Awarded Bharat Ratna in 2015) Vajpayee was the Prime Minister of India during the years 1996, 1998 and 1999 to 2004. From 1977 to 1979, he was the External Affairs Minister. In 1994, he was given the Best Parliamentarian Award.