Bharat Ratna 2014 to Vajpayee and Pandit Malviya

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Bharat Ratna - the highest national honour - for the year 2014 has gone to BJP stalwart and former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

He shares the award with prominent educationist and founder of Banaras Hindu University - Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya.

The surprise declaration - 153 years after his birth in 1861 - makes Malviya the oldest recipient of this honour ever.

Awardees

  • AB Vajpayee is the first political leader from any right-wing party to get this honour.
  • He is also the first non-congress PM to complete his term (1999-2004).
  • Pandit Malviya - also addressed with moniker 'Mahamana' - was a pioneer of hindu nationalism movement during British rule.
  • He is one of the contrast in the Indian political spectrum by being the leader of both Hindu Mahasabha (far-right group) and Congress (centre left mindset).
  • Notably, he also went on to be the president of Congress party twice; in 1909 and 1918.

With the above 2 addition - the total number of Bharat Ratna awardees are 45 now. Twelve recipients - including Malviya - are awarded posthumously.

  • First Awardee (1954) : Chakravarti Rajgopalachari ; C V Raman and Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan 
  • Last Awardee : Sachin Tendulkar and scientist CNR Rao

Introduction

  • India's highest civilian award was instituted in 1954.
  • Its given to person without any distinction of race, occupation, position or sex.
  • Awarded by the President on formal recommendation by the Prime Minister.
  • The recipient can not use it as the "title" (similar to Padma awards ) for example 'Bharat Ratna Sachin Tendulkar'.
  • It comes 7th in the Indian order of precedence.

Posthumous awards: 

  • Initially, there was no such provision to award it posthumously; however in 1966 the provision was added.

Curious Case of Netaji

  • Subhash Chandra Bose was given the honour in 1992 in posthumous category; the order was withdrawn after apex court intervention asking for proof that Netaji death is "confirmed".
  • It is so far the only case of a withdrawn award. 
  • Nationality : no formal provision that recipients of the Bharat Ratna should be Indian citizens.

Interesting Facts

  • Two non Indian have been awarded so far: Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan (1987, Pakistan) and Nelson Mandela (1990, South Africa).
  • *Mother Teresa (in 1980) was a naturalised Indian Citizen
  • D K Karve : eldest person alive at the time of receiving the award (age 100)
  • Madan Mohan Malviya : eldest overall (in 2014 - some 153 years after birth)

The Design

  • Shape is of a 'Peepal leaf' (Ficus Religiosa)
  • Colour : Bronze image of "Sun" and "Bharat Ratna" in Devanagari script is inscribed on the front.
  • Reverse side: state emblem and motto.
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