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Bharat Ratna Award Winners List From 1954 to 2016

Bharat Ratna is the highest civilian award granted by the Government of India to distinguished citizens. The award was instituted in 1954. The purpose of the Bharat Ratna is to award exceptional service or performance of the highest order without any discrimination.

When the award was first constituted, it was meant to reward exceptional achievements in art, science, literature and public service. But since 2011, the criteria of the award have been expanded to include exceptional achievements in any human endeavor.

It is the Prime Minister of India who recommends the Bharat Ratna and it is the President of India who confers it. Winners of the award receive a certificate or a Sanad signed by the President and a medallion. This award does not carry any monetary grants. There can only be a maximum of three nominees awarded per year.

The first recipients of the Bharat Ratna were among the greatest Indians who ever lived – freedom fighter C. Rajagopalachari, former President, teacher and philosopher Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, and the great scientist C. V. Raman. They were given this honor in 1954.

Since then the Bharat Ratna has been conferred to 45 distinguished men and women, including 12 who were given the award posthumously.

Sachin Tendulkar, the greatest cricketer of his generation was the youngest to receive this award, at the age of 40. Two non-Indians, freedom fighter Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan of Pakistan and former South African President Nelson Mandela have also received the award.

YearName Of The Person/ Awardee(s)
1954Dr. S. Radhakrishnan, Chakravarti Rajagopalachari, Dr Chandrashekhar Venkataraman [First Awardee(s)]
1955Dr. Bhagwan Das, Dr. Mokshgundm Visveswaraya, Jawaharlal Nehru
1957Govind Vallabh Pant
1958Keshav Karve Rdhodo
1961Dr. BC Roy, Purushottam Das Tandon
1962Dr. Rajendra Prasad
1963Dr. Zakir Hussain, Pandurang Vaman Kane
1966Lal Bahadur Shastri (posthumous)
1971Indira Gandhi
1975V. V. Giri
1976K. Kamaraj (posthumous)
1980Mother Teresa
1983Acharya Vinoba Bhave (posthumous)
1987Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan (The first overseas)
1988Marudur Gopalan Ramachandran (posthumous)
1990Dr. BR Ambedkar (posthumously), Nelson Mandela
1991Rajiv Gandhi (posthumous), Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel (posthumous), Morarji Desai
1992JRD Tata, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad (posthumously), Ray
1997Aruna Asaf Ali (posthumous), Gulzari Lal Nanda (posthumous), A.P.J. Abdul Kalam
1998M. S. Subbulakshmi, C. Subramaniam, Jayaprakash Narayan (posthumous)
1999Professor Amartya Sen, Pandit Ravi Shankar, Gopinath Bardoli (posthumous)
2001Lata Mangeshkar, Ustad Khan Bismilah
2009Bhimsen Joshi
2014Sachin Tendulkar, Dr. C.N.R. Rao
2015Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Madan Mohan Malviya (posthumous) [Recent Awardee(s)]
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