It's rain of Bharat Ratna in 2024: After LK Advani, these two former PMs to be conferred with nation's highest honour!

India is witnessing an unprecedented shower of Bharat Ratna in 2024, thanks to Prime Minister Narendra Modi as he has announced five recipients of the nation's highest civilian honour so far in the first two months of the current year. Such a development is peculiar in the country's history as it is the first time that the Bharat Ratna will be awarded for five individuals in a year. 

On Friday - February 9, Narendra Modi announced that former Prime Ministers PV Narasimha Rao and Charan Singh will be awarded Bharat Ratna and along with them, Indian agricultural scientist and plant geneticist MS Swaminathan will also be conferred with the highest civilian honour. These awards would be bestowed on them posthumously. 

Interestingly, Narendra Modi had recently announced Bharat Ratna for former Bihar Chief Minister and social reformist Karpoori Thakur and former Deputy Prime Minister and BJP's stalwart LK Advani. Narendra Modi made the announcements on Friday on social media where he hailed and praised the contributions and legacy of Charan Singh, PV Narasimha Rao, and MS Swaminathan. 

Announing the award for Charan Singh, the Prime Minister wrote, "It is a privilege of our government that the former Prime Minister of the country Chaudhary Charan Singh ji is being honored with Bharat Ratna. This honor is dedicated to his outstanding contribution to the country. He dedicated his entire life for the rights and welfare of farmers. Be it the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh or the Home Minister of the country and even as an MLA, he always gave impetus to nation building. He stood firm even in the face of emergency. His dedication to our farmer brothers and sisters and his commitment to democracy during the Emergency is an inspiration to the entire nation." 

Conferring Bharat Ratna on PV Narasimha Rao, the Prime Minister wrote, "Delighted to share that our former Prime Minister, Shri PV Narasimha Rao Garu, will be honoured with the Bharat Ratna. As a distinguished scholar and statesman, Narasimha Rao Garu served India extensively in various capacities. He is equally remembered for the work he did as Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, Union Minister, and as a Member of Parliament and Legislative Assembly for many years. His visionary leadership was instrumental in making India economically advanced, laying a solid foundation for the country's prosperity and growth." 

"Narasimha Rao Garu’s tenure as Prime Minister was marked by significant measures that opened India to global markets, fostering a new era of economic development. Furthermore, his contributions to India's foreign policy, language and education sectors underscore his multifaceted legacy as a leader who not only steered India through critical transformations but also enriched its cultural and intellectual heritage", Modi added. 

In his message about the Bharat Ratna award to MS Swaminathan, Modi wrote, "It is a matter of immense joy that the Government of India is conferring the Bharat Ratna on Dr. MS Swaminathan Ji, in recognition of his monumental contributions to our nation in agriculture and farmers’ welfare. He played a pivotal role in helping India achieve self-reliance in agriculture during challenging times and made outstanding efforts towards modernizing Indian agriculture."

He further said, "We also recognise his invaluable work as an innovator and mentor and encouraging learning and research among several students. Dr. Swaminathan’s visionary leadership has not only transformed Indian agriculture but also ensured the nation’s food security and prosperity. He was someone I knew closely and l always valued his insights and inputs." As the nature of Bharat Ratna bestowments had set a new trend under Modi's reign, it has also sparked a wave of criticisms from across the country. 

File photo: A collage of former Prime Ministers PV Narasimha Rao (left) and Charan Singh


The back-to-back announcements of Bharat Ratna had drawn a sharp notion that the Modi regime is using the nation's highest civilian honour as a political tool as these rapid announcements have come three months ahead of the general elections. The critics also underline a protocol that Bharat Ratna award can't be announced based on the Prime Minister's desires as only three people can be awarded with Bharat Ratna in a particular year. 

The notification of the Ministry of Home Affairs reads, "The recommendations for Bharat Ratna are made by the Prime Minister himself to the President. No formal recommendations for this are necessary. The number of annual awards is restricted to a maximum of three in a particular year." On the other hand, several opposition leaders including Congress veteran Sonia Gandhi and the family members of the recipients had welcomed the announcement from the Prime Minister. 

With the latest announcements, the Modi-led BJP government had conferred Bharat Ratna to ten people since coming to power in 2014 of which five of them were conferred in just two months. Apart from these five recent recipients, the other five awardees were former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Indian scholar Madan Mohan Malaviya, former President Pranab Mukherjee, playback singer and musician Bhupen Hazarika, and social activist and leader of Bharatiya Jana Sangh, Nanaji Deshmukh. The last time where more number of people were awarded Bharat Ratna was in 1999 where four people, including Nobel prize laureate Amartya Sen and Jayaprakash Narayan, were conferred with the nation's highest civilian honour.