Bharat Ratna Conferred to Pranab Mukherjee, Nanaji Deshmukh & Bhupen Hazarika

Bharat Ratna, nation’s highest civilian honour, has been conferred on former President Pranab Mukherjee, along with social activist Nanaji Deshmukh (posthumous), and Assamese musician Bhupen Hazarika (posthumous) by President Ramnath Kovind on Friday 25 January 2019. With these three recipients, 48 eminent people have been conferred the award so far.

Bharat Ratna, the Jewel of India, instituted in 1954 is conferred “in recognition of exceptional service/performance of the highest order”, in “any field of human endeavour”. Recipients receive a Sanad (certificate) signed by the President and a Peepal-leaf–shaped medallion; there is no monetary grant associated with the award.

Bharat Ratna was conferred after a gap of four years. Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and founder of Banaras Hindu University Madan Mohan Malviya were awarded Bharat Ratna by the Narendra Modi government in 2015. A promise to confer the Bharat Ratna to Madan Mohan Malaviya was made by Modi during the 2014 campaign, and he fulfilled it soon after coming to power.

Pranab Kumar Mukherjee (born 11 December 1935), fondly known as ‘Pranab Da’, served as the 13th President of India from 2012 until 2017, is the sixth President to receive Bharat Ratna. In a political career spanning five decades, Mukherjee became India’s youngest finance minister in 1982 at the age of 47. He held a number of key cabinet portfolios: Defence (2004–06), External Affairs (2006–09) and Finance (2009–12) in Congress-led United Progressive Alliance Government.

Mukherjee joins the elite club of former presidents Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, Rajendra Prasad, Zakir Hussain, V.V. Giri and A.P.J. Abdul Kalam who were also awarded the nation’s highest civilian honour.

“Pranab Da is an outstanding statesman of our times. He has served the nation selflessly and tirelessly for decades, leaving a strong imprint on the nation’s growth trajectory. His wisdom and intellect have few parallels. Delighted that he has been conferred the Bharat Ratna”, Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted.

Nanaji Deshmukh or Chandikadas Amritrao Deshmukh (11 October 1916 – 27 February 2010), joined RSS at the age of 13, played a key role in JP Movement for total revolution of 1970s against Indira Gandhi government, was a social activist who worked in the fields of education, health, and rural self-reliance. Deshmukh won election held after revocation of the Emergency in 1977 with a comfortable margin from Balrampur Lok Sabha constituency of Uttar Pradesh.  He was honoured with the Padma Vibhushan in 1999.

“Nanaji Deshmukh’s stellar contribution towards rural development showed the way for a new paradigm of empowering those living in our villages. He personifies humility, compassion and service to the downtrodden. He is a Bharat Ratna in the truest sense!” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in a tweet.

Bhupen Hazarika (8 September 1926 – 5 November 2011) widely known as Sudhakantha, was a playback singer, lyricist, musician, singer, poet and film-maker from Assam, whose songs, written and sung mainly in the Assamese language by himself, are marked by humanity and universal brotherhood and have been translated and sung in many languages, most notably in Bengali and Hindi. He introduced culture and folk music of Assam and Northeast India to Hindi cinema at national level. He has earlier been conferred Padmashri, Padmabhushan, and Padam Vibhushan(posthumously); besides Dada Saheb  Phalke Award, Sangeet Natak Akademy Fellowship and other awards. Hazarika produced music for acclaimed Bollywood movies Rudaali, Darmiyaan, Gaja Gamini, Daman and many Assamese hits including award winning film Sameli Memsaab. Hazarika was an independent MLA in Assam during 1967-72 and had unsuccessfully contested the Guwahati Lok Sabha seat on a BJP ticket in 2004.

“The songs and music of Shri Bhupen Hazarika are admired by people across generations. From them radiates the message of justice, harmony and brotherhood.” “He (Hazarika) popularised India’s musical traditions globally. Happy that the Bharat Ratna has been conferred on Bhupen Da,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted.

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