New Delhi: Legendary cricketer Sachin Tendulkar and eminent scientist Prof CNR Rao were on Tuesday conferred with the country`s highest civilian honour Bharat Ratna by President Pranab Mukherjee at a function held at the `Durbar Hall` of Rashtrapati Bahavan.
Master batsman Tendulkar, who retired from international cricket on November 16 last year, is the first sportsman to be bestowed with the honour.
Tendulkar (40) and Rao (79), both of whom are recipients of Padma Vibhushan — the country`s second highest civilian honour, join a list of 41 eminent personalities who have been conferred with the award that is given in recognition of exceptional service of the highest order since it was instituted in 1954.
In a fitting finale to a record-breaking career spanning 24 years, Tendulkar, a former India Captain, was chosen for the prestigious award, after his farewell 200th Test against the West Indies in Mumbai on November 16, 2013.
An official statement had said Tendulkar has been a true Ambassador of India in the world of sports and his achievements in cricket are unparallelled, the records set by him unmatched, and the spirit of sportsmanship displayed by him exemplary.
“That he has been honoured with several awards is testimony to his extraordinary brilliance as a sportsman,” it said, noting that Tendulkar has played cricket across the world and won laurels for the country during the last 24 years since a young age of 16.
An outspoken scientist, Prof Chintamani Nagesa Ramachandra Rao is a well recognized international authority on solid state and materials chemistry who has published over 1,400 research papers and 45 books. He is the third scientist after C V Raman and former President A P J Abdul Kalam to be conferred with the Bharat Ratna.
Prof Rao`s contributions have been recognized by most major scientific academies around the world through conferment of memberships and fellowships and has been honoured with several national and international awards, the official announcement said.
He currently serves as the Head of the Scientific Advisory Council to the Prime Minister of India. There have been continuous demands for a long time for Tendulkar to be conferred the top honour and the eligibility criteria for it was revised last year to accommodate sportspersons as well.
Tendulkar is also the first active sportsperson to become a Rajya Sabha member last year. The Bharat Ratna was announced after a gap of four years with Hindustani music doyen Bhimsen Joshi being the last recipient in 2009.
Incidently, Union Home Ministry has came out with guidelines about Bharat Ratna saying the award cannot be used as a prefix or suffix to the recipient`s name under the Constitution.
However, the award winner can use mention as `Awarded Bharat Ratna by the President` or `Recipient of Bharat Ratna Award` in their bio-datas, letter head or visiting cards.
The recipient receives a Sanad (certificate) signed by the President and a medallion. It does not carry any monetary grant.