The Indian Honour System, various awards are given by the India Government to citizens in recognition of their service or achievements in any field. Amongst these awards the “ Bharat Ratna” is the highest award.  Since the time, the “Bharat Ratna” was instituted in the year 1954, 45 great sons and daughters of India have received this most prestigious honour.

Apart from the honour, recognition and respect that recipients of this award get there are also certain benefits and facilities that the awardees get for the rest of their life. However, Bharat Ratna is not a title and cannot be used as a suffix or prefix to the name of the recipient.  The only way it can be added to the letterhead, visiting card or bio-data of the recipient is by writing “recipient of Bharat Ratna” or  “awarded Bharat Ratna by the President of India”.

The Process

The highest civilian award in India, the Bharat Ratna is conferred on an India citizen without credence to caste, religion, sex, age or occupation. The Prime Minister suggests the nominees to the President of India who makes the final decision about who should get the awards for the particular year. No other nominations are required and a maximum of three nominees can be selected for the award in a year.

The Bharat Ratna Award

The recipient of the award gets a Medallion and a Certificate which is called “Sanad” in Hindi, which is signed by the President of India.

The medal is minted in the Government Mint in Kolkota. It is shaped like a Peepul leaf (leaf of the tree Ficus Religiosa), a tree native to India and strongly associated with Indian ethos.  The Peepul Leaf is heart shaped and has a slender long tapering end. The medallion is 5.8 cms in length, 4.7 cms in width and 3.1 mms in thickness. It has the a sun with the words “Bharat Ratna” written in Devanagri script on one side and on the reverse the Emblem of India with the words “ Satyamev Jayate” written in Devanagri script.  The sun, the State Emblem and the rim are made of platinum and the rest of the medallion is made of bronze.  The cost of making this medallion, a miniature of this medallion and the box in which it is kept  is supposed to be more than Rs. 2.5 lacs.

Benefits and Facilities

While there is no monetary  benefit or grant that is associated with this award, there are a number of benefits and facilities that the recipients enjoy for the rest of their life.


The following Government dignitaries are State Guests of India:

  1. The President of India.
  2. The Vice-President of India.
  3. The Prime Minister of India.
  4. The Chief Justice of India.
  5. Governors of other states including
  6. Lieutenant Governor of Union Territories.
  7. The Ex-Presidents of India.
  8. The Ex-Vice Presidents of India.
  9. The Ex-Prime Ministers of India.

While travelling in India, the Bharat Ratna recipient is treated as a State Guest. A  State Guest in India is given free transportation, lodging, boarding and reception while travelling within the country according to the rules. The immediate family (wife/husband and children) are also given these benefits at the expense of the State. Security is also given to the Awardees and personal aides such as driver, peon, and secretary are also provided by the State.

Indian Missions abroad will provide proper facilitation on their visits abroad & the awardee is entitled for diplomatic passport

When travelling abroad, Awardees are given “Diplomatic Passport” which allows them to easier immigration, right to use of VIP lounge etc. The Indian High Commissions and Embassies abroad offer all help during their trip.

Lifetime free executive class travel on Air India

Also, Air India, our national Air Carrier gives them free Executive Class travel for their whole life.

Ceremonial Protocol

The Bharat Ratna Awardee is in position 7A in the “Table of Precedence”  of the Ministry of Home Affairs. The order of precedence of Government Dignitaries such as president, Prime Minister, Governors, Cabinets Ministers , Judges etc. are given in this table for ceremonial occasions and State Functions. The Bharat Ratna Awardees are above Chief Ministers or Governors from outside states at position 7A.

The honour that is accorded and the respect that the Bharat Ratna Award brings to the recipient are above all the most important benefits that he/ she gets.

Name Birth / death Awar- ded Notes State / Country
1. Chakravarti Rajgopalachari 1878–1972 1954 Independence activist, last Governor-General Tamil
2. C. V. Raman 1888–1970 1954 Physicist Tamil
3. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan 1888–1975 1954 Philosopher, second President Andhra Pradesh
4. Bhagwan Das 1869–1958 1955 Independence activist, author Uttar Pradesh
5. Mokshagundam Visvesvarayya 1861–1962 1955 Civil engineer, Diwan of Mysore Karnataka
6. Jawaharlal Nehru 1889–1964 1955 Independence activist, author, first Prime MinisterP Uttar Pradesh
7. Govind Ballabh Pant 1887–1961 1957 Independence activist, Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, Home Minister Uttar Pradesh
8. Dhondo Keshav Karve 1858–1962 1958 Educator, social reformer Maha- rashtra
9. Bidhan Chandra Roy 1882–1962 1961 Physician, Chief Minister of West Bengal West Bengal
10. Purushottam Das Tandon 1882–1962 1961 Independence activist, educator Uttar Pradesh
11. Rajendra Prasad 1884-1963 1962 Independence activist, jurist, first President Bihar
12. Zakir Hussain 1897–1969 1963 Scholar, third President Andhra Pradesh
13. Pandurang Vaman Kane 1880–1972 1963 Indologist and Sanskrit scholar Maha- rashtra
14. Lal Bahadur Shastri 1904–1966 1966 Posthumous, independence activist, second Prime Minister Uttar Pradesh
15. Indira Gandhi 1917–1984 1971 Third Prime Minister Uttar Pradesh
16. V. V. Giri 1894–1980 1975 Trade unionist and fourth President orissa
17. K. Kamaraj 1903–1975 1976 Posthumous, independence activist, Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu State Tamil
18. Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu (Mother Teresa of Calcutta) 1910–1997 1980 Catholic nun, founder of the Missionaries of Charity West Bengal / Albania
19. Vinoba Bhave 1895–1982 1983 Posthumous, social reformer, independence activist Maha- rashtra
20. Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan 1890–1988 1987 First non-citizen, independence activist Pakistan
21. M. G. Ramachandran 1917–1987 1988 Posthumous, film actor, Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu Tamil
22. B. R. Ambedkar 1891–1956 1990 Posthumous, chief architect of the Indian Constitution, politician, economist, and scholar Madhya Pradesh
23. Nelson Mandela b. 1918 1990 Second non-citizen and first non-Indian recipient, Leader of the Anti-Apartheid movement south Africa
24. Rajiv Gandhi 1944–1991 1991 Posthumous, Sixth Prime Minister New Delhi
25. Vallabhbhai Patel 1875–1950 1991 Posthumous, independence activist, first Home Minister Maha- rashtra
26. Morarji Desai 1896–1995 1991 Independence activist, fourth Prime Minister New Delhi
27. Abul Kalam Azad 1888–1958 1992 Posthumous, independence activist, first Minister of Education Saudi Arabia
28. J. R. D. Tata 1904–1993 1992 Industrialist and philanthropist France
29. Satyajit Ray 1922–1992 1992 Bengali filmmaker west Bengal
30. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam b. 1931 1997 Aeronautical Engineer,11th President of India Tamil
31. Gulzarilal Nanda 1898–1998 1997 Independence activist, interim Prime Minister New Delhi
32. Aruna Asaf Ali 1908–1996 1997 Posthumous, independence activist Punjab
33. M. S. Subbulakshmi 1916–2004 1998 Carnatic classical singer Tamil
34. Chidambaram Subramaniam 1910–2000 1998 Independence activist, Minister of Agriculture Tamil
35. Jayaprakash Narayan 1902–1979 1999 Posthumous, independence activist and politician Bihar
36. Pandit Ravi Shankar 1920-2012 1999 Sitar player Uttar Pradesh
37. Amartya Sen b. 1933 1999 Economist, Nobel Laureate West Bengal
38. Gopinath Bordoloi 1890–1950 1999 Posthumous, independence activist, Chief Minister of Assam Assam
39. Lata Mangeshkar b. 1929 2001 Playback singer Madhya Pradesh
40. Ustad Bismillah Khan 1916–2006 2001 Hindustani classical shehnaiplayer Uttar Pradesh
41. Pandit Bhimsen Joshi 1922–2011 2008 Hindustani classical singer Karnataka

Foreign Recipients

Nelson Mandela                   1990

Posthumously Awarded

Lal Bahadur Shastri              1966

K. Kamaraj                          1976

Vinoba Bhave                      1983

M. G. Ramachandran           1988

B. R. Ambedkar                   1990

Rajiv Gandhi                        1991

Vallabhbhai Patel                1991

Abul Kalam Azad                1992

Aruna Asaf Ali                    1997

Jayaprakash Narayan         1999

Gopinath Bordoloi              1999