New Delhi: : Cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar and eminent scientist Prof CNR Rao were chosen for Bharat Ratna with the batting maestro, who retired from international cricket on Saturday, being the first sportsman to be bestowed with the country's highest civilian honour.
Tendulkar(40) and Rao(89), both of whom are recipients of Padma Vibhushan — the country's second highest civilian honour, join a list of 41 eminent personalities to get the award 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, Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar, a former India Captain, was chosen for the prestigious award, as he bid adieu to international cricket after his farewell Test against the West Indies ended in Mumbai.
The announcement was made by Rashtrapati Bhavan within hours after Tendulkar played his 200th Test. An official statement 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 given 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.