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Bharat Ratna conferred to former Prime Ministers


The Government of India announced Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian award for former Prime Ministers PV Narasimha Rao and Chaudhary Charan Singh as well as agricultural scientist MS Swaminathan.


Facts for Prelims

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About PV Narasimha Rao:
  2. About Chaudhary Charan Singh
  3. About M.S. Swaminathan
  4. About Bharat Ratna

About PV Narasimha Rao:

  • PV Narasimha Rao was born on 28th June 1921 in erstwhile Nizam’s Hyderabad state.
  • He was a freedom fighter, academician, and literary figure.
  • His term as the Prime Minister of India was 1991-1996.
  • He was born to a farmer’s family in Lanepalli (Telangana’s Warangal District.)
  • He was a pioneer of all rural economies and rural welfare.
  • The sectors where he made initiatives to bring development are (but not limited to):
    • Clean Water
    •  Development of Women and Children in Rural Areas
    • Primary health care
    • Primary Education sector
    • Empowerment of Artisans
    • Animal Husbandry and Poultry
    • Small Industries
    • Khadi and Village Industries
    • Textiles, etc.
  • He is also called as the pioneer of inclusive growth.

During his Tenure:

  • The fund to implement schemes for rural development was increased to Rs.30000 crores in the 8th Five Year Plan, from Rs. 7000 crore in Seventh Five Year Plan.
  • The foreign exchange had increased 15 fold in 1996. It was Rs. 3000 crores in 1991.
  • With his economic reforms, the GDP hovered around 7-7.5 percent.
  • He published ‘SahasraPhan’, a Hindi translation of the famous Telugu Novel ‘Veyi Padagalu’.
  • He sought to dismantle the restrictions imposed under the license raj, reduce red tape and make Indian industries more competitive. 
  • He is known for bringing the policy of economic liberalisation in India.
  • The economic liberalisation in India is referred to the liberalisation of the country’s economic policies.
  • It was initiated in 1991 with the goal of making the economy more market- and service-oriented, and expanding the role of private and foreign investment.
  • In terms of foreign policy, he established diplomatic relations with Israel.
  • The Look East Policy of India was also initiated during his tenure.
  • He is also known for reversing decades of unfriendly relations between India and the United States by bringing them together.
  • The 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendments Act empowering local bodies were enacted during his tenure.

About Chaudhary Charan Singh:

  • Chaudhary Charan Singh was a prominent Indian politician and statesman who served as the fifth Prime Minister of India from 1979 to 1980. He was born on December 23, 1902, in the village of Noorpur in the state of Uttar Pradesh.
  • The National Farmers Day is celebrated on December 23, the birth anniversary of Chaudhary Charan Singh.
  • He was a member of the Indian National Congress party, but he later joined the Bharatiya Kranti Dal and later the Bharatiya Lok Dal, which he helped to found. He was known for his strong support for the rights of farmers and his efforts to improve the lives of the rural poor.
  • He was active in the Indian independence movement and served as a member of the Constituent Assembly that drafted the Constitution of India.
  • He later served as the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh and as the Deputy Prime Minister of India under Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.
  • After the collapse of the Gandhi government in 1979, Charan Singh was appointed as the Prime Minister of India, leading a minority government that lasted for only a few months before being voted out of power.

About M.S. Swaminathan:

When it comes to the transformation of India’s agricultural landscape, one name resonates above all: M.S. Swaminathan.

As the mastermind behind the Green Revolution in India, his vision and work have reshaped the country’s farming, taking it from famine to plenty.

Early Life and Education

Mankombu Sambasivan Swaminathan was born in the temple town of Kumbakonam, Tamil Nadu, in 1925. He embarked on his academic journey studying agriculture at the University of Madras.

His insatiable curiosity led him overseas, earning a Ph.D. in genetics from the renowned University of Cambridge by 1952.

Pioneering the Green Revolution

Post his return to India, he joined the Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI) in New Delhi. The late 1950s witnessed the inception of his most impactful work—developing high-yielding crop varieties.

Collaborating with the likes of the American agronomist Norman Borlaug, Swaminathan developed strains resilient against pests and diseases, ensuring a higher grain yield.

Breakthrough with Kalyan Sona

1966 marked a turning point with the introduction of ‘Kalyan Sona.’ This variety of wheat was a game-changer.

It had a formidable resistance to rust, a notorious wheat disease, and boasted a yield double that of traditional counterparts. Following its path, several high-yield varieties emerged, redefining India’s agricultural production.

Beyond the Green Revolution

While the Green Revolution was a monumental success, it wasn’t without its challenges. The revolution saw unintended consequences like environmental degradation and a widening gap between the affluent and impoverished farmers.

Ever the visionary, Swaminathan emphasized the urgent need for a more sustainable approach to agriculture, advocating for a balanced ecosystem and equal benefits for all farming stakeholders.

Recognition and Legacy

Swaminathan’s profound impact on the agricultural sector has been acknowledged globally. His accolades include the World Food Prize, the esteemed Ramon Magsaysay Award, and India’s second-highest civilian honor, the Padma Vibhushan.

Furthermore, his esteemed membership in global institutions like the National Academy of Sciences, the Indian National Science Academy, and the Royal Society of London cements his legacy.

About Bharat Ratna:

  • Highest Civilian Award: Bharat Ratna, instituted in 1954, stands as the highest civilian award in India.


  • Inclusive Criteria: The award is open to any individual without distinction of race, occupation, position, or gender. While predominantly awarded to India-born citizens, exceptions include the naturalized citizen Mother Teresa and non-Indians such as Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan and Nelson Mandela.

Special Considerations:

  • Posthumous Awards: Originally, posthumous awards were not permitted, but the statutes were amended in 1955 to allow them. Lal Bahadur Shastri became the first posthumous recipient.

Recognition Criteria:

  • Exceptional Service: Conferred in recognition of exceptional service or performance of the highest order across any field of human endeavor.

Nomination Process:

  • Prime Minister’s Recommendation: The Prime Minister recommends the awardees to the President, and no formal recommendations are required.


  • Annual Cap: The number of awards is capped at a maximum of three per year.

Award Components:

  • Recognition: Recipients receive a Sanad (certificate) signed by the President and a medallion. However, the award does not carry any monetary grant.

-Source:  The Indian Express

March 2024