Context: The Ministry of Home Affairs in its commitment to transform Padma Awards into “People’s Padma” has requested all citizens to make nominations/ recommendations including self-nomination.
- Bharat Ratna is the highest civilian award of the country.
- It is awarded in recognition of exceptional service/performance of the highest order in any field of human endeavour.
- It is treated on a different footing from Padma Award.
- The recommendations for Bharat Ratna are made by the Prime Minister to the President of India.
- No formal recommendations for Bharat Ratna are necessary.
- The number of Bharat Ratna Awards is restricted to a maximum of three in a particular year.
- Government has conferred Bharat Ratna Award on 48 persons till date.
Interesting facts about the Bharat Ratna
- First recipients of this award were Dr. Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan, Sir C.V. Raman, and Chakravarti Rajagopalachari in 1954.
- Mother Teresa was the first naturalized Indian citizen who received the Bharat Ratna Award in 1980.
- Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan (1987) and Nelson Mandela (1990) are two non Indians who got Bharat Ratna Award.
- Sachin Tendulkar is the first sportsperson and the youngest Bharat Ratna Award Winner.
- Lal Bahadur Shastri was the first person to get this award posthumously.
- Subhash Chandra Bose was awarded with Bharat Ratna posthumously in 1992. But due to controversy (as there is no evidence of Subhash Chandra Bose's death) his family refused to accept the award as posthumous winner.
- This is the only incident in the history of Bharat Ratna that an award was withdrawn.
- Prime Ministers Jawaharlal Nehru (1947-64) and Indira Gandhi (1966-77, 1980-84) have been criticised for recommending their names to the president by themselves to get the awards in 1955 and 1971 respectively.
- There is no provision that award should be given to Indians only.
- It is not mandatory that Bharat Ratna should be awarded very year.
- The award does not carry any monetary grant.
- The holders of the Bharat Ratna rank seventh in the Indian order of precedence.
- M.S. Subbalaxmi was the first musician who got this award.
- Padma Awards, which were instituted in the year 1954, are announced every year on the occasion of Republic Day.
- The award is given in three categories, namely,
- Padma Vibhushan for exceptional and distinguished service;
- Padma Bhushan for distinguished service of a high order; and
- Padma Shri for distinguished service.
- All persons without distinction of race, occupation, position or sex are eligible for these awards.
- However, Government servants in-service including those working with PSUs, except doctors and scientists, are not eligible for these Awards.
- The award seeks to recognize works of distinction and is given for distinguished and exceptional achievements/service in all fields of activities/disciplines.
- The nomination process is open to the public. Even self-nomination can be made.
- The award is normally not conferred posthumously.
- However, in highly deserving cases, the Government could consider giving an award posthumously.
- A higher category of Padma award can be conferred on a person only where a period of at least five years has elapsed since conferment of the earlier Padma award.
- However, in highly deserving cases, a relaxation can be made by the Awards Committee.
- The recipients are also given a small replica of the medallion, which they can wear during any ceremonial/State functions etc., if the awardees so desire.
- The names of the awardees are published in the Gazette of India on the day of the presentation ceremony.
- The total number of awards to be given in a year (excluding posthumous awards and to NRI/foreigners/OCIs) should not be more than 120.
- The award does not amount to a title and cannot be used as a suffix or prefix to the awardees’ name
- All nominations received for Padma Awards are placed before the Padma Awards Committee, which is constituted by the Prime Minister every year.
- The Padma Awards Committee is headed by the Cabinet Secretary and includes Home Secretary, Secretary to the President and four to six eminent persons as members.
- The recommendations of the committee are submitted to the Prime Minister and the President of India for approval.