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Friday, December 16, 2011

Sachin Tendulkar, Dhyan Chand can now be given Bharat Ratna

In a significant move clearing decks for Master Blaster Sachin Tendulkar, legendary hockey player Dhyan Chand and others to get Bharat Ratna, the government has made a necessary change in eligibility criteria for a person getting the India's highest civilian honour.

The Bharat Ratna will now be awarded in recognition of exceptional service/performance of the highest order "in any field of human endeavour" - covering almost all the fields that had earlier remained out of the purview of this civilian award.

Earlier, it was restricted to areas like "Art, Literature, Science and Public Service", making it difficult for government to consider names of those, who contributed immensely to other fields, including sports.

"The change is made through notification by the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) on recommendation of the home and sports ministries," said a senior official.

Supporting sports ministry's demand to include 'sports' as a category for the award of Bharat Ratna, the home ministry had written to the PMO in July, asking it to take the call as the decision would help outstanding sportspersons to be considered for the highest civilian award.

As the clamour for awarding Bharat Ratna to Tendulkar and Dhyan Chand gets louder, sports minister Ajay Maken had earlier written to home minister P Chidambaram seeking inclusion of 'sports' as a category for the award of Bharat Ratna. Maken, however, did not plead for any specific sportsperson or sports.

Before the change which is made now, the Bharat Ratna was considered only for those, who excelled for "exceptional service towards advancement of Art, Literature and Science, and in recognition of public service of the highest order". The recommendations for the Bharat Ratna - that was instituted in 1954 - are made by Prime Minister himself to President.

Though names of persons as per the eligibility criteria can be recommended by different state\Union Territories governments, organizations and individuals to PMO for consideration, no "formal recommendation" for this is necessary. It is also not mandatory that Bharat Ratna is awarded every year. The number of awards is, however, restricted to a maximum of three in a year.

So far, 41 people have been conferred with Bharat Ratna. The first three Indians, who received the prestigious award, were Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman, Chakravarti Rajagopalachari and Sarvapali Radhakrishnan in 1954. There is no written provision that Bharat Ratna should be awarded to Indian citizens only.

The award has been conferred to a naturalized Indian citizen Mother Teresa (1980) and to two non-Indians - Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan and Nelson Mandela (1990). Pandit Bhimsen Joshi was the last recipient of the award in 2009.

Jawaharlal Nehru, Rajendra Prasad, Lata Mangeshkar, Ustad Bismillah Khan, Amartya Sen, Jayprakash Narayan, Pandit Ravi Shankar, M S Subbulakshmi, J R D Tata, A P J Abdul Kalam, Rajiv Gandhi, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Morarji Desai and Bhimrao Ambedkar are among the other recipients of Bharat Ratna.  

Source: Times of India

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