They join a galaxy of 41 eminent personalities

Sachin Tendulkar, one of cricket’s greatest heroes, and top scientist C.N.R. Rao were on Saturday named for the Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian award.

On a day when the ‘Master Blaster’ bade an emotional adieu to his record-breaking career lasting 24 years, the Prime Minister’s Office announced the Bharat Ratna for him. Sachin is the first sportsperson chosen for the honour.

The PMO also announced the award for Prof. Rao, a well recognised international authority in solid state and materials chemistry, who has published hundreds of research papers.

He is the third scientist, after C. V. Raman and the former President, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, to be awarded the Bharat Ratna.

Both Sachin, 40, and Prof. Rao, 79, are also recipients of the Padma Vibhushan — second highest civilian honour. Soon after the announcement from the PMO, a communiqué from the Rashtrapati Bhavan said: “The President of India has been pleased to award the Bharat Ratna to Sachin Tendulkar and Prof. C.N.R. Rao.”

They join the galaxy of 41 eminent personalities who have been honoured in “recognition of exceptional service or performance of the highest order in any field of human endeavour.” The Bharat Ratna was instituted in 1954 and the last recipient was Hindustani classical music doyen Bhimsen Joshi, in 2009.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh congratulated both Prof. Rao and Sachin on the honour. Dr. Singh called up Prof. Rao and wished him many more years of service to the nation and science. He also spoke to Sachin and wished him success after his retirement, says a PMO release.

An official statement described Sachin “as a true Ambassador of India in the world of sports,” lauding his “unparalleled” achievements. “The records set by him are unmatched, and the spirit of sportsmanship displayed by him is exemplary. That he has been honoured with several awards is testimony to his extraordinary brilliance as a sportsman,” it said.

Prof. Rao’s contributions have been recognised by most of the scientific academies around the world through membership and fellowship, and he has been honoured with national and international awards, the announcement said.

For the past few years, there have been demands that the Bharat Ratna be awarded to Sachin. The eligibility criteria for the award were revised last year to include sportspersons. The Prime Minister himself made the recommendation to the President, and no formal recommendations are necessary, says a statement of the Home Ministry.

Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar and Minister for Youth Affairs and Sports Jitendra Singh have congratulated Sachin on successfully completing his distinguished and inspiring career.

In a statement, the Minister said: “Sachin Tendulkar is one of the finest examples of sportsmen we have ever had with love for the sport, humility, integrity, honesty and pure and unbridled talent. His sterling performance across all formats of the game over 24 years is a rare feat of exemplary elegance, earnest application and commitment.’’ He described Sachin as a “national hero,” whose achievements will be a source of inspiration for all sports lovers.

Mr. Singh hoped to utilise Sachin’s expertise to promote excellence, good governance and ethics in all sports.

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