Bharat Ratna is the highest civilian award in the Republic of India. Until 2011, the official criteria to award Bharat Ratna was “for highest degrees of national service”, including artistic, literary and scientific achievements as well as “recognition of public service of highest order”. In December 2011, the Government of India modified the criteria as “for performance of highest order in any field of human endeavour” to allow sportspersons to receive the award.

On November 16, 2013, cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar and eminent scientist Prof. CNR Rao were chosen for Bharat Ratna. It was announced on the day when Sachin bid an emotional adieu to his glorious career after playing record 200 test matches. Sachin is the first sportsperson and also the youngest dignitary to be bestowed with the honour. Sachin was the most successful batsman in international cricket amassing 15,921 runs in 200 test matches and 18,426 runs in 463 ODIs. The award is a perfect send-off gift to Sachin whose career spanned 24 years making him an inspiration for generations of cricketers.

Chintamani Nagesa Ramachandra Rao, currently head of the Scientific Advisory Council to PM Manmohan Singh, is the third scientist, after C. V. Raman and the former President A. P. J Abdul Kalam, to be awarded Bharat Ratna. Prof. Rao is a renowned international authority in the Solid State and Material Chemistry. With honorary doctorates from 60 universities from around the world, he is credited for publishing 1400 research papers and 45 books. Mr. Rao is the only scientist and among handful in the world with close to 50,000 citation.

Mr. Rao was also honoured with China top science award for his contribution in boosting Indo-China scientific cooperation in January 2013. ‘Transition Metal Oxides’, Understanding Chemistry, Climbing the Limitless Ladder and “Nan crystals: Synthesis, Properties and Applications’ are some noted books by Prof. CNR Rao. Both Sachin and Prof. Rao are also recipients of Padma Vibhushan – the second highest civilian award of India. Both Sachin and Prof. Rao join the elite list of 41 great personalities to get Bharat Ratna given in recognition of exceptional service of the highest order since it was established in 1954.