Bharat Ratna Award: A Glance at Recipients Over Decades

The Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian award, is a prestigious honour conferred upon people with exceptional contributions to the nation’s progress and welfare. Since its inception in 1954, this award has recognised outstanding achievements in various fields, including politics, science, arts, and social service. This article takes a chronological journey through the decades, exploring the notable Bharat Ratna Award list of recipients and their contributions to India’s growth and development.


Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan (1954): Renowned philosopher and India’s first Vice President and second President. He played a pivotal role in promoting Indian philosophy and culture on the global stage.

Dr. C. V. Raman (1954): A Nobel laureate in Physics, known for the discovery of the Raman Effect, which had a significant impact on the study of light.


Dr. Zakir Husain (1963): Distinguished scholar, educationist, and the third President of India. His commitment to education and social progress was unwavering.

Dr. Pandurang Vaman Kane (1963): A scholar of Sanskrit and Dharmashastra, renowned for his work in the field of Indology.

Dr Lal Bahadur Shastri (1966): The second Prime Minister of India, known for his leadership during the Indo-Pak war of 1965 and the slogan “Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan.”

Indira Gandhi (1971): The first female Prime Minister of India, recognised for her leadership during a crucial period in the nation’s history.


V. V. Giri (1975): Distinguished labour leader and India’s fourth President, known for his advocacy of labour rights.

K. Kamaraj (1976): A prominent political leader from Tamil Nadu, celebrated for his contributions to education and social welfare.

Mother Teresa (1980): Renowned for her selfless service to the poor and marginalised in India, especially in Kolkata.


Acharya Vinoba Bhave (1983): A prominent Gandhian and social reformer known for the Bhoodan Movement and his commitment to non-violence.

Dr Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan (1987): Known as the “Frontier Gandhi,” he was a stalwart in the Indian freedom struggle and an advocate of non-violence.

Rajiv Gandhi (1991): The youngest Prime Minister of India, recognised for his contributions to modernising the country and promoting technology.


Dr. Nelson Mandela (1990): Although not an Indian citizen, the South African leader was awarded the Bharat Ratna for his global contributions to peace and justice.

Dr. Rajiv Gandhi (1991): Posthumously awarded, he was recognised for his vision and contributions to modernising India.

Morarji Desai (1991): India’s first non-Congress Prime Minister and an advocate for social justice.


Dr. G. Venkataswamy (2001): Renowned ophthalmologist and founder of Aravind Eye Hospitals, dedicated to eradicating blindness in India.

Lata Mangeshkar (2001): The legendary playback singer celebrated for her contributions to Indian music.

Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam (1997): A visionary scientist and India’s Missile Man, recognised for his contributions to space and missile technology.

Bhimsen Joshi (2008): A maestro in the field of classical music, celebrated for his mastery of the vocal arts.


Sachin Tendulkar (2014): The cricketing legend, recognised for his outstanding career and contributions to Indian sports.

Atal Bihari Vajpayee (2015): A respected statesman and former Prime Minister, celebrated for his leadership and oratory skills.

Madan Mohan Malaviya (2015): A prominent educationist and freedom fighter known for his role in establishing Banaras Hindu University.

Bhupen Hazarika (2019): A legendary musician, lyricist, and filmmaker celebrated for his contributions to Assamese and Indian culture.


Nanaji Deshmukh (2019): A social activist and politician known for his contributions to rural development and education.

B. R. Ambedkar (posthumously in 2020): The chief architect of the Indian Constitution and a champion of social righteousness.

Pranab Mukherjee (posthumously in 2021): A statesman and former President recognised for his contributions to Indian politics and governance.


The Bharat Ratna Award list has been a beacon of honour for individuals who have shaped the destiny of India through their exceptional contributions in various fields. From political leaders and social reformers to scientists and cultural icons, the awardees represent the diverse tapestry of India’s progress and development. As the years roll on, the Bharat Ratna will continue to recognise outstanding individuals who inspire the nation and leave an indelible mark on its history.

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