Zeenews Sports Bureau
New Delhi: In wake of the growing public opinion and media appeals to alter the eligibility criterion for awarding the Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian honour, the government made a historic move to widen the scope of the award.
The Bharat Ratna category has been broadened and excellence in all fields of human endeavour is the new eligibility norm. This is particularly good news for sports fans as the two biggest icons of the arena, Sachin Tendulkar and Dhyan Chand, are now eligible to be given the honour.
The country`s highest civilian award was initially restricted to fields such as Art, Literature, Science and Public Service but on the behest of the Sports and Home Ministries, the criterion was altered and approved by the PMO.
Though names of persons as per the eligibility criteria can be recommended by different state\Union Territories governments, organizations and individuals to PMO for consideration, no "formal recommendation" for this is necessary.
It is also not compulsory that Bharat Ratna is awarded every year. The number of awards is, however, restricted to a maximum of three in a year.
41 people have been conferred with Bharat Ratna. The first three Indians, who received the prestigious award, were Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman, Chakravarti Rajagopalachari and Sarvapali Radhakrishnan in 1954.
The award has also been conferred to a naturalized Indian citizen Mother Teresa (1980) and to two non-Indians - Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan and Nelson Mandela (1990). Pandit Bhimsen Joshi was the last recipient of the award in 2009.