Bharat Ratna is the highest civilian award of the Republic of India. Instituted on 2 January 1954, the award is conferred “in recognition of exceptional service / performance of the highest order”, without distinction of race, occupation, position, or sex. The award was originally limited to achievements in the arts, literature, science and public services but the government expanded the criteria to include “any field of human endeavour” in December 2011. Recommendations for the Bharat Ratna are made by the Prime Minister to the President, with a maximum of three nominees being awarded per year.
This year (2014) Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, a charismatic practitioner of consensual politics who found acceptability across the political spectrum, was picked for the country’s highest civilian honour Bharat Ratna, an award that was also bestowed on late freedom fighter and Hindu Mahasabha leader Madan Mohan Malviya. Malviya was a multifaceted personality. He was an educationist who founded the Banaras Hindu University and became one of the torchbearers of the freedom struggle acting as a bridge between the Moderates and the Extremists.
In 2013, the award (Bharat Rathna) was conferred to cricketer Sachin Tendulkar and scientist C.N.R Rao.