CNR Rao became the third scientist and Sachin Tendulkar, the first sportsman, to get the country's highest civilian award.
Renowned scientist C.N.R. Rao and former cricketer Sachin Tendulkar were on Tuesday conferred the Bharat Ratna, the highest civilian award of the country for exceptional contribution in any field of human endeavour.
The award was presented by President Pranab Mukherjee at a brief ceremony in the historic Durbar Hall of Rashtrapati Bhavan. Mr. Tendulkar is the first sportsperson and sitting Rajya Sabha member to receive the prestigious award.
Prof. Rao, Chairperson of the Scientific Advisory Council to the Prime Minister, dedicated the award to his mother and students. Mr. Tendulkar dedicated the feat to his mother and “all the mothers who sacrificed their wishes for their children.”
“It is the biggest honour for me. I will continue to bat for my country. Even though my cricket has stopped, I will try my best to give people of India a reason to smile,” he said after the function.
Mr. Tendulkar, dressed in a dark outfit, was accompanied by his wife, Anjali, and daughter, Sara.
Rashtrapati Bhavan staff had a harrowing time controlling the guests, most of whom wanted to shake hands with the cricketer, who retired from active cricket last year, and take his autograph.
Even security personnel were seen jostling for a glimpse of the cricketer, and many of them managed to take his autograph as well.
Prof. Rao, who has 1,400 papers and 45 books to his credit, said: “It is fantastic. It is more important than anything. Nothing comparable to India honouring me.” He hoped that he would be able to accomplish “something important” in the coming years.
Prof. Rao, who is the third scientist to receive the Bharat Ratna after Nobel laureate C.V. Raman and former President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, said that while India was doing reasonably well in science, other countries were doing better. South Korea and China were spending more on research.
Prof. Rao’s contributions have been recognised by most major scientific academies across the world by way of memberships and fellowships, and numerous national and international awards.
Both Prof. Rao and Mr. Tendulkar have received the Padma Vibhushan earlier. The two join the club of 41 eminent personalities who have been honoured with Bharat Ratna since it was instituted in 1954.
Vice-President Hamid Ansari, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress president Sonia Gandhi and a host of Ministers were among those present at the function.