8 Indian artists who became the Bharat Ratna

Updated: Jul 24, 2020

The Bharat Ratna is India’s highest civilian honor. Instituted in the year 1954, the award is a recognition of exceptional service/performance of the highest order in any field of human endeavor.

48 individuals have been conferred with the award till date. Out of these, 8 have received this honor for their exceptional work in the field of arts.


Before we jump on the list, lets check out some important information about the Bharat Ratna award.


The Process The recommendations for Bharat Ratna are made by the Prime Minister himself to the President. No formal recommendations for this are necessary though several citizens keep recommending various individuals for the award. The number of awards is restricted to a maximum of three in a particular year.

What does the Awardee receive?

The Bharat Ratna awardee receives a Sanad (certificate) signed by the President of India and a medallion. The medallion is in the form of a Peepal leaf, about 5.8 cm long, 4.7 cm wide and 3.1 mm thick. It is made of toned bronze. On its obverse is embossed a replica of the sun, 1.6 cm in diameter, below which the words Bharat Ratna are embossed in Devanagari script. On the reverse are State emblem and the motto, also in Devanagari. The emblem, the sun and the rim are of platinum. The inscriptions are in burnished bronze.

This medallion is made by the India Government Mint in Kolkata. As of 2014, the total cost of one Bharat Ratna medal & miniature along with its box costs Rs. 2,57,732.


What about Monetary reward? Unlike other awards and contrary to popular perception, the Bharat Ratna Award does not carry any monetary grant.


What about other Benefits/Facilities? While they are not extended any monetary grant, the Bharat Ratna awardees are extended a host of benefits & facilities. They are extended four different benefits/facilities as noted below.


Declaration as a State Guest while travelling within India The dignitaries of the Government of India and other State Governments are normally treated as State Guests. For example, the following people are treated as state guests

· The President of India.

· The Vice-President of India.

· The Prime Minister of India.

· The Chief Justice of India.

· Governors of other states including

· Lieutenant Governor of Union Territories.

· The Ex-Presidents of India.

· The Ex-Vice Presidents of India.

· The Ex-Prime Ministers of India.

Many other dignitaries are treated as state guests by the state governments based on their rules. State Guests are extended reception, transport, boarding & lodging in the state. They are also extended security based on the rules. Members of the family of the State Guest (Spouse & Children) will also be given hospitality at the expense of the state. Personal Staff & Driver also provided to these guests.

The awardee is entitled for diplomatic passport

Diplomatic Passport has a Maroon cover and is issued to Indian diplomats, top ranking government officials and diplomatic couriers. The Bharat Ratna awardees are entitled for a diplomatic passport. Diplomatic passport entitles them for a separate immigration counter, access to VIP lounge in the airports etc. Apart from this, the Indian Missions abroad extend them all possible support in their visits abroad.

They are entitled for lifetime free executive class travel in the national Carrier, Air India.





They are placed at 7A in the Table of Precedence The Table of Precedence is published by the Ministry of Home Affairs and the order in this table is meant for State and Ceremonial occasions and has no application in the day-to-day business of Government. In such state or ceremonial functions, the Bharat Ratna Awardees are at 7A above Chief Ministers & Governors of states, outside their state. This order is used for protocol in official state functions.


List of Recipients:


1. Pandurang Vaman Kane

(7 May 1880 – 8 May 1972)

Year awarded: 1963

State: Maharashtra

Dr Kane was a notable Indologist and Sanskrit scholar. He received India's highest civilian award Bharat Ratnain 1963 for his scholarly work that spanned more than 40 years of active academic research that resulted in 6,500 pages of History of Dharmaśāstra.

He served as the vice chancellor of the University of Mumbai His services were requisitioned and enlisted for establishing Kurukshetra University.

He was nominated to the Rajya Sabha as a member of Parliament for his distinguished record in academics

2. Satyajit Ray

(2 May 1921 – 23 April 1992)

Year awarded: 1992

State: West Bengal

Satyajit Ray was an Indian film director, writer, and illustrator. He is widely considered as one of the greatest and most influential filmmaker of all-time.

Ray directed 36 films, including feature films, documentaries and shorts. He was also a fiction writer, publisher, illustrator, calligrapher, music composer, graphic designer and film critic. He authored several short stories and novels as well.

Ray's first film, Pather Panchali (1955), won eleven international prizes, including the inaugural Best Human Document award at the 1956 Cannes Film Festival.

He was awarded 32 National Film Awards by the government of India. In 1965, he was awarded the Padma Bhushan and the highest civilian honour- Bharat Ratna, shortly before his death.


Satyajit Ray is a cultural icon in India and in Bengali communities worldwide. Following his death, the city of Calcutta came to a virtual standstill, as hundreds of thousands of people gathered around his house to pay their last respects.


3. M. S. Subbulakshmi

16 September 1916 – 11 December 2004

Year awarded: 1998

State: Tamil Nadu


Carnatic classical vocalist Subbulakshmi was from Madurai, Tamil Nadu. She is known for her divine voice & often hailed as "Queen of songs", the first Indian musician to receive the Ramon Magsaysay award for her public service.


She was honoured as a resident artist Aasthana Vidwan of Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam. Tirupati Urban Development Authority (TUDA) has installed a bronze statue of her in the city. Her many famous renditions include the chanting of Bhaja Govindam, Vishnu Sahasranamam (1000 names of Vishnu), Hari Tuma Haro, Venkateswara Suprabhatam (musical hymns to awaken Lord Balaji early in the morning), Annamacharya Sankirtanas and Tamil Tevaram. She also acted in a few Tamil films in her youth from 1938–1947. She donated many of the royalties on several best sold records to many charity organisations.

4. Ravi Shankar

7 April 1920 – 11 December 2012

Year awarded: 1999

State: West Bengal

Shankar was the best-known proponent of the sitar in the second half of the 20th century and influenced many other musicians throughout the world.

Winner of four Grammy Awards and often considered "the world's best-known exponent of Hindustani classical music", sitar player Shankar is known for his collaborative work with Western musicians including Yehudi Menuhin and George Harrison.

Shankar engaged Western music by writing compositions for sitar and orchestra, and toured the world in the 1970s and 1980s. From 1986 to 1992, he served as a nominated member of Rajya Sabha. He continued to perform until the end of his life.





5. Lata Mangeshkar

(28 September 1929- Present)

Year awarded: 2001

State: Maharashtra


Lata Mangeshkar Widely credited as the "nightingale of India" is an Indian playback singer and music director. She is one of the best-known and most respected playback singers in India. She has recorded songs in over a thousand Hindi films and has sung songs in over thirty-six regional Indian languages and foreign languages, though primarily in Marathi, Hindi, and Bengali.

France conferred on her its highest civilian award (Officer of the Legion of Honour) in 2007. In 1989, Mangeshkar was awarded the Dadasaheb Phalke Award, India's highest award in cinema.

6. Bismillah Khan

21 March 1916 – 21 August 2006

Year awarded: 2001

State: Bihar

Ustad Qamruddin "Bismillah" Khan (born as Qamaruddin Khan), often referred to by the title Ustad, was an Indian musician credited with popularizing the shehnai, a subcontinental wind instrument of the oboe class. While the shehnai had long held importance as a folk instrument played primarily [schooled] in traditional ceremonies, Khan is credited with elevating its status and bringing it to the concert stage.

On his 102nd birthday, Google honored Bismillah Khan with a Google doodle.

Sangeet Natak Akademi, New Delhi, instituted the Ustad Bismillah Khan Yuva Puraskar in 2007, in his honour. It is given to young artists in the field of music, theatre and dance.





7. Bhimsen Joshi

4 February 1922 – 24 January 2011

Year awarded: 2009

State: Karnataka


Pandit Bhimsen Gururaj Joshi was an Indian vocalist from Karnataka. He is known for the khayal form of singing, as well as for his popular renditions of devotional music (bhajans and abhangs). Bhimsen Joshi belongs to Kirana gharana tradition of Hindustani Classical Music.


Pt. Joshi's iconic status in the music world has earned him a whole generation of suni shagirds who by merely listening to him have picked up his style and not through any formal tutelage. His greatest endeavour in perpetuating his legacy could be the Sawai Gandharva Festival held at Pune annually since the year 1953 which seeks to promote a certain music culture.

8. Bhupen Hazarika

8 September 1926 – 5 November 2011

Year awarded: 2019

State: Assam

Hazarika was an Indian playback singer, lyricist, musician, poet and film-maker from Assam, widely known as Sudhakantha. His 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 is also acknowledged to have introduced the culture and folk music of Assam and Northeast India to Hindi cinema at the national level.

Hazarika was awarded with Dada Saheb Phalke Award (1992), Highest award of India for cinema. He was posthumously awarded the Padma Vibhushan, India's second-highest civilian award, in 2012.



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Anubhav Gaur
Anubhav Gaur


Edited by Anubhav Gaur

Founder, Skyshot Media

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