Bestowed upon the most esteemed individuals for their exceptional service to the nation, the Bharat Ratna represents the pinnacle of recognition in India. This prestigious accolade honours not just the achievements but the enduring impact of its recipients on the fabric of the nation.
In this compendium, we delve into the lives and legacies of these luminaries, including the recent addition of the venerable Karpoori Thakur, whose contributions have been eternally etched into the annals of Indian history. This one is a Posthumous award since Karpoori Thakur died on 17 February 1988. So far, 49 people have received the highest civilian accolade in the nation, the Bharat Ratna, with 17 receiving it posthumously.
Renowned for his commitment to social justice and equality, Ex-chief minister of Bihar Karpoori Thakur's legacy as a leader and reformer resonates profoundly in the ethos of modern India. His tenure in public service was marked by relentless advocacy for the underprivileged, making him a beacon of hope and transformation.
Enumeration of Bharat Ratna recipients to date
Mokshagundam Visvesvaraya (1955)
An eminent civil engineer, statesman, and the Diwan of Mysore, Mokshagundam Visvesvaraya was a visionary in the field of engineering and education. His dedication to public service and development projects significantly advanced India's infrastructure.
Indira Gandhi (1971)
As the first and only female Prime Minister of India, Indira Gandhi was a dynamic political leader known for her decisive leadership and significant contributions to India's political landscape.
Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman (1954)
A physicist par excellence, C.V. Raman's groundbreaking work in the field of light scattering earned him the Nobel Prize in Physics. His discovery, known as the Raman Effect, significantly influenced the study of quantum mechanics.
Bhim Rao Ramji Ambedkar (Posthumous, 1990)
A visionary social reformer and the principal architect of the Indian Constitution, B.R. Ambedkar's relentless advocacy for social justice transformed the socio-political fabric of India, especially in championing the rights of the marginalized.
Dhondo Keshav Karve (1958)
A distinguished social reformer and educator, Dhondo Keshav Karve dedicated his life to the empowerment of women through education and was instrumental in advancing women's rights in India.
Jawaharlal Nehru (1955)
A central figure in Indian independence and the nation's first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru's vision shaped modern India's foundations through his emphasis on secularism, science, and technology.
Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan (1987)
A stalwart of the Indian independence movement and a close associate of Mahatma Gandhi, Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, also known as 'Frontier Gandhi', was renowned for his non-violent opposition to British rule.
Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan (1954)
An eminent philosopher and statesman, Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan's intellectual prowess and philosophical insight were instrumental in interpreting Indian culture and philosophy to the world. He served as the second President of India.
Lal Bahadur Shastri (Posthumous, 1966)
India's second Prime Minister, Lal Bahadur Shastri, was known for his humble leadership and the slogan "Jai Jawan Jai Kisan", reflecting his support for both soldiers and farmers.
Govind Ballabh Pant (1957)
A prominent independence activist and political leader, Govind Ballabh Pant played a key role in the establishment of the modern administrative system in India.
Chakaravarti Rajagopalachari (1954)
An independence activist, statesman, writer, and lawyer, Rajagopalachari was the last Governor-General of India. He was also a founder of the Swatantra Party and an advocate of classical liberal principles.
Bhagwan Das (1955)
An independence activist, philosopher, and educationist, Bhagwan Das was a key figure in the Indian educational and social reform landscape, greatly influenced by his association with Annie Besant and Theosophical Society.
Mother Mary Teresa Bojaxhiu (Mother Teresa, 1980)
Renowned for her compassionate work with the destitute and dying in Kolkata, Mother Teresa's Missionaries of Charity expanded globally, reflecting her profound impact on humanitarian work.
Rajendra Prasad (1962)
A lawyer, scholar, and independence activist, Rajendra Prasad served as the first President of India. His leadership during the Constituent Assembly debates was instrumental in shaping the Constitution.
Zakir Husain (1963)
A distinguished scholar and educationist, Zakir Husain's significant contributions to Indian education were marked by his tenure as the third President of India.
Marudur Gopalan Ramachandran (Posthumous, 1988)
Popularly known as MGR, he was an actor turned politician who made significant contributions to Tamil Nadu's political and social life.
Bidhan Chandra Roy (1961)
A physician, political leader, philanthropist, educationist, and social worker, Bidhan Chandra Roy's multifaceted contributions significantly impacted West Bengal's development.
Pandurang Vaman Kane (1963)
A renowned Indologist and Sanskrit scholar, Pandurang Vaman Kane's monumental work on "History of Dharmasastra" is a testament to his scholarship in ancient Indian legal traditions and culture.