Bharat Ratna Awardees: List of Recipients (1954-2024)

Bharat Ratna awardees (1954-2024): Explore a comprehensive list of recipients of India's highest civilian honor.

Bharat Ratna Awardees

The 'Bharat Ratna' is the highest civilian award in India, recognizing exceptional contributions in various fields. Established in 1954, this prestigious honor acknowledges individuals who have made significant and indelible contributions to the progress, advancement, and well-being of India.

In This comprehensive list details the Bharat Ratna awardees from 1954 to 2024, providing a glimpse into the remarkable individuals who have shaped the nation's history and continue to inspire generations.

What is ‘Bharat Ratna’?

The Bharat Ratna is the highest civilian award of the Republic of India. Instituted on January 2, 1954, the award is given in recognition of exceptional service or performance of the highest order without distinction of race, occupation, position, or sex. The term "Bharat Ratna" translates to "Jewel of India" in Hindi.

The ‘Bharat Ratna’ is awarded by the President of India to individuals who have made outstanding contributions in various fields such as arts, literature, science, public services, and social work. It is not conferred posthumously, and the number of annual awards is restricted to a maximum of three in a particular year.

Recipients of the ‘Bharat Ratna’ receive a certificate signed by the President and a medallion with the national emblem of India inscribed on it. The award does not carry any monetary grant or special privileges, but it holds immense prestige and honor. Being conferred with the Bharat Ratna is a testament to an individual's exceptional achievements and contributions to the nation.

First recipients of 'Bharat Ratna'?

The first recipients of the Bharat Ratna were three individuals honored in 1954:

  1. Chakravarti Rajagopalachari: Eminent statesman, also known as Rajaji, freedom fighter, and writer; served as the first Governor-General of independent India (1947-1950) and later, the second Chief Minister of Madras Province (1952-1954). 
  2. Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan:Renowned philosopher, scholar, and statesman; served as the second President of India (1954-1962).
  3. Dr. C.V. Raman: Pioneering physicist; first Indian recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physics (1930). 


    Bharat Ratna Awardees: List of Recipients (1954-2024)

    Year: Bharat Ratna 2024


    1. Karpoori Thakur:  Karpoori Thakur, the 11th Chief Minister of Bihar, held office for two terms: 1970-1971 and 1977-1979. In 1978, he instituted the reservation policy for state government jobs, a pivotal step toward socio-economic equity. Thakur's legacy is marked by his impactful tenure and pioneering contributions to affirmative action in Bihar.
    2. M. S. Swaminathan: He is renowned as the "Father of the Green Revolution in India." Serving as the Director General of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research, he played a pivotal role in revolutionizing Indian agriculture.
    3. L. K. Advani: L. K. Advani served as the Deputy Prime Minister of India from 2002 to 2004. He played a pivotal role in the Ram Janmabhoomi movement, advocating for the construction of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya. Advani is the longest serving leader of opposition in the Lower House of         Parliament. 
    4. P. V. Narasimha Rao: P. V. Narasimha Rao, the 9th Prime Minister of India (1991-1996),initiated significant economic reforms, liberalizing the Indian economy. His tenure saw the dismantling of the License Raj and the introduction of the New Economic Policy, fostering economic growth.
    5. Charan Singh: The 5th Prime Minister of India (1979-1980), was a champion of farmers' rights. As a prominent political figure, he focused on agrarian reforms and implemented policies to address the concerns of the agricultural community.

    Year: Bharat Ratna 2019

    1.  Bhupen Hazarika:He was an Indian playback singer, lyricist, musician, singer, poet and film-maker from Assam, widely known as Sudhakantha. Before he got Bharat Ranta (India's highest civilian award), he received the National Film Award for Best Music Direction in 1975. Recipient of Sangeet Natak Akademi Award (1987), Padmashri (1977), and Padmabhushan (2001), and also awarded with Dada Saheb Phalke Award (1992).
    2. Pranab Mukherjee: He is an Indian politician who served as the 13th President of India from 2012 until 2017. He 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.
    3. Nanaji Deshmukh: He was a social activist from India. He worked in the fields of education, health, and rural self-reliance. He was a member of RSS, a leader of the Bharatiya Jana Sangh, and also a member of the Rajya Sabha. He was honoured with the Padma Vibhushan in 1999. India’s first        Saraswati Shishu Mandir was established by him at Gorakhpur in 1950.

    Year: Bharat Ratna 2015

    1.  Atal Bihari Vajpayee: He was a politician, who served as the Prime Minister of India three times in 1996, 1998 and from 1999 to 2004. He was a parliamentarian for over four decades and was elected nine times to the Lok Sabha, twice to the Rajya Sabha, also serving as the minister of external affairs during 1977–79.
    2. Madan Mohan Malaviya: Was a scholar and educational reformer, who founded the Akhil Bharatiya Hindu Mahasabha (1906) and Banaras Hindu University, while serving 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.

    Year: Bharat Ratna 2014

    1.  Sachin Tendulkar: A cricketer, who is regarded as one of the greatest batters of all-time. Having debuted in 1989, Tendulkar played 664 international cricket matches, scoring more than 34,000 in a career spanning over two decades and holds various cricket records.
    2. C. N. R. Rao: He is a chemist and a scientist specializing in solid state chemistry. He has honorary doctorates from 86 universities and has authored around 1,800 research publications and 56 books.

    Year: Bharat Ratna 2009

    1.  Bhimsen Joshi: Joshi was a Hindustani classical vocalist, who was a disciple of Kirana gharana and is widely known for the Khyal genre of singing.

    Year: Bharat Ratna 2001

    1.  Lata Mangeshkar: She was a playback singer, known as the "nightingale of India". She 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.
    2. Bismillah Khan: Khan was a Hindustani classical shehnai player, who played the instrument for more than eight decades and is credited to have brought the instrument to the centre stage of Indian music.

    Year: Bharat Ratna 1999

    1.  Gopinath Bordoloi: Bordoloi was an independence activist and politician, who served as the first chief minister of Assam (1946–50).
    2. Ravi Shankar: Ravi Shankar was a musician and sitar player. He has won four Grammy Awards and is often considered "the world's best-known exponent of Hindustani classical music".
    3. Amartya Sen: Sen is an economist and the winner of the Nobel memorial prize in economic sciences in 1998.
    4. Jayaprakash Narayan: Narayan was an independence activist and social reformer. He was commonly referred as "Loknayak" ("People's Leader") and is known for the Total Revolution Movement initiated during the mid-1970s against the then government of India.

    Year: Bharat Ratna 1998

    1.  C. Subramaniam: Was an independence activist and politician, who served as the minister of agriculture from 1964 to 1966 and later as minister of finance and defence. He is known for his contribution towards the Green Revolution in India.
    2. M. S. Subbulakshmi: She was a Carnatic classical vocalist, known for her songs, religious chantings and compositions. She was the first Indian musician to receive the Ramon Magsaysay award for her public service.

    Year: Bharat Ratna 1997

    1.  A. P. J. Abdul Kalam: Kalam was an aerospace and defence scientist, who later served as the eleventh President of India from 2002 until 2007.
    2. Aruna Asaf Ali: Ali was an independence activist, known for hoisting the tricolor flag of in Bombay during the Quit India Movement in 1942. Post Independence, Ali was elected as Delhi's first mayor in 1958.
    3. Gulzarilal Nanda: Nanda was an independence activist and politician, who served as the interim Prime Minister of India in 1964 and 1966 and as the deputy chairman of the Planning Commission.

    Year: Bharat Ratna 1992

    1.  Abul Kalam Azad: Azad was an independence activist and politician, who served as the first education minister of India. His birthday on 11 November is observed annually as the National Education Day in India.
    2. J. R. D. Tata: Tata was an industrialist, philanthropist, and aviation pioneer, who served as the chairman of the business conglomerate Tata Group.
    3. Satyajit Ray: Ray was a film director. He directed his first film Pather Panchali in 1955 and is credited with bringing world recognition to Indian cinema. In 1984, Ray was awarded the Dadasaheb Phalke Award and in 1991, he received Academy Honorary Award.

    Year: Bharat Ratna 1991

    1.  Rajiv Gandhi: Gandhi was the ninth Prime Minister of India serving from 1984 to 1989.
    2. Vallabhbhai Patel: Patel was an independence activist, who served as the first Deputy Prime Minister of India (1947–50) and home minister. Patel was known as the "Iron Man of India" and by the title of "Sardar" ("Leader") Patel and was instrumental in the accession of the princely states into the Indian union.
    3. Morarji Desai: Desai was an independence activist and politician, who served as the fourth Prime Minister of India from 1977 to 1979 and was the first to be not from the Indian National Congress. He was also awarded the Nishan-e-Pakistan, the second highest civilian award given by the Government of Pakistan.

    Year: Bharat Ratna 1990

    1.  B. R. Ambedkar: Ambedkar was a social reformer, lawyer and a Dalit leader, who headed the committee drafting the Indian Constitution while also serving as the first Law Minister of India later. Ambedkar campaigned against the social discrimination of Dalits and the caste system in India.
    2. Nelson Mandela: Mandela was the leader of the Anti-Apartheid Movement in South Africa and later served as 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.

    Year: Bharat Ratna 1988

    1.  M. G. Ramachandran: He was an actor and politician, who was the founder of the Indian political party, All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and served as the chief minister of Tamil Nadu for over ten years, between 1977 and 1987.

    Year: Bharat Ratna 1987

    1.  Abdul Ghaffar Khan: Khan was a independence activist, a follower of Mahatma Gandhi and an advocate of Hindu–Muslim unity in the subcontinent. He was known as "Frontier Gandhi" and was part of the Khilafat Movement in 1920.

    Year: Bharat Ratna 1983

    1.  Vinoba Bhave: Bhave was an independence activist, social reformer and an associate of Mahatma Gandhi, known for his Bhoodan movement. He was known by the honorific title "Acharya" ("teacher").

    Year: Bharat Ratna 1980

    1.  Mother Teresa: Mother Teresa was a Catholic nun and founder of the Missionaries of Charity, a religious congregation, which manages homes for diseased people. She was the recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize for her humanitarian work in 1979.

    Year: Bharat Ratna 1976

    1.  K. Kamaraj: Kamaraj was an independence activist and politician, who served athe chief minister of Tamil Nadu for over nine years, between 1954 and 1963.

    Year: Bharat Ratna 1975

    1.  V. V. Giri: Giri was an independence activist, who organized trade unions and facilitated their participation in the fight for independece. Post-independence, Giri held positions of Governor of Uttar Pradesh, Kerala and Mysore state and other cabinet ministries.

    Year: Bharat Ratna 1971

    1.  Indira Gandhi: Indira Gandhi was the Prime Minister of India during 1966–77 and 1980–84. She is known as the "Iron Lady of India", as she led India during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971 and the concurrent Bangladesh Liberation War which led to the formation of Bangladesh.

    Year: Bharat Ratna 1966

    1.  Lal Bahadur Shastri: Shastri was an independence activist, known for his slogan "Jai Jawan Jai Kisan". He served as second Prime Minister of India (1964–66) and led the country during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965.

    Year: Bharat Ratna 1963

    1.  Zakir Husain: Husain was an independence activist and philosopher, who served as the Vice Chancellor of Aligarh Muslim University (1948–56) and the Governor of Bihar (1957–62).
    2. Pandurang Vaman Kane: He was an indologist and Sanskrit scholar, known for his five volume literary work, History of Dharmaśāstra: Ancient and Medieval Religious and Civil Law in India.

    Year: Bharat Ratna 1962

    1.  Rajendra Prasad: Prasad was an independence activist, lawyer and statesman, who was associated with Mahatma Gandhi in the Champaran Satyagraha in Bihar and non-cooperation movement. Became the president of Constituent Assembly of India .He was later elected as the first President of India (1950–62).

    Year: Bharat Ratna 1961

    1.  Bidhan Chandra Roy: Roy was a physician, politician and educationist. He served as the second Chief Minister of West Bengal from 1948 to 1962 and is known as the "Maker of Modern West Bengal".
    2. Purushottam Das Tandon: Tandon was an independence activist and politician, who served as the speaker of the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly from 1937 to 1950.

    Year: Bharat Ratna 1958

    1.  Dhondo Keshav Karve: Karve was a social reformer and educator, known for his work on education for women and remarriage of Hindu widows.

    Year: Bharat Ratna 1958

    1.  Govind Ballabh Pant: Pant was an independence activist and politician, who served as the premier of United Provinces (1937–39, 1946–50) and as the first chief minister of Uttar Pradesh from 1950 to 1954.

    Year: Bharat Ratna 1955

    1.  Jawaharlal Nehru: Nehru was an independence activist and politician, who was the first and the longest-serving Prime Minister of India from 1947 to 1964.
    2. M. Visvesvaraya: Visvesvaraya was a civil engineer and statesman. He served as the 19th Diwan of Mysore from 1912 to 1918.
    3. Bhagwan Das: Bhagwan Das was an independence activist, theosophist and educationist. He co-founded Kashi Vidyapith and worked with Madan Mohan Malaviya to establish the Banaras Hindu University.

    Year: Bharat Ratna 1954

    1.  Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan: Radhakrishnan served as the first Vice-President of India from 1952 to 1962 and as the second President of India from 1962 to 1967. Since 1962, his birthday of 5 September is observed annually as Teachers' Day in India.
    2. C. Rajagopalachari: Rajagopalachari was an independence activist, who served as the last Governor-General of India from 1948 to 50. Earlier, he served as the first governor of West Bengal in 1947-48.
    3. C. V. Raman: Raman was a physicist known for his work in the field of light scattering. He is known for the discovery of Raman scattering and Raman spectroscopy and was presented the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1930.


     Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

    Who received the last Bharat Ratna?

    Last awarded: 2024: Karpoori Thakur; Lal Krishna Advani; Chaudhary Charan Singh; P.V. Narasimha Rao; M. S. Swaminathan

    Who got first Bharat Ratna?

    The first recipients of the Bharat Ratna were: C. Rajagopalachari; Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan; C. V. Raman

    What is 'Bharat Ratna'?

    Highest Civilian Award of the Republic of India

    Who is the first woman awarded Bharat Ratna?

    Shrimati Indira Gandhi

    How many Bharat Ratna given in 2024?

    five (5) recipients

    Who is the youngest person to receive Bharat Ratna?

    Sachin Tendulkar

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