The Perks of Being a Bharat Ratna, Or How Sachin Can Fly for Free
The Bharat Ratna is India’s highest civilian honour. Instituted in the year 1954, only 45 individuals have received the award till date. The award is a recognition of exceptional service/performance of the highest order in any field of human endeavour.
The recommendations for Bharat Ratna awardees are made to the President by the Prime Minister himself. No formal recommendations are necessary, though a lot of citizens do recommend various individuals for the award. The number of annual awards is restricted to a maximum of three in a 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 shaped like 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 an embossed replica of the sun, 1.6 cm in diameter, below which the words Bharat Ratna are embossed in Devnagari script. The state emblem and the motto, also in Devnagari, are on the other side. The emblem, the sun and the rim are platinum and the inscriptions are in burnished bronze.
The medallion is made by the India Government Mint in Kolkata. As of 2014, the total cost of one Bharat Ratna medal & miniature, in its box, costs Rs 2,57,732.
Any Monetary Award?
Unlike other awards and contrary to popular perception, the Bharat Ratna Award does not carry any monetary grant. The award cannot be used as a prefix or suffix to the recipient’s name. But an award winner may use the following expressions in their biodata/letterhead/visiting card to indicate that he/she is a recipient of the award. The allowed expressions are ‘Awarded Bharat Ratna by the President’ or ‘Recipient of Bharat Ratna Award’
While they are not extended any monetary grant, the Bharat Ratna awardees are extended a host of benefits & facilities.
Awardees are State Guests While Travelling Within India
The Bharat Ratna awardees are treated as State Guests. The dignitaries of the Government of India and other State Governments are normally treated as State Guests. Other state guests are:
- 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 state governments based on their rules. State Guests are extended reception, transport, boarding and lodging in the state. In some cases, they are also offered security. Members of the family of the State Guest (spouse and children) will also receive hospitality at the expense of the state. Personal staff and a driver are also made available to these guests.
Bharat Ratna Awardees are Eligible for Diplomatic Passports
The Indian 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 to a diplomatic passport. A diplomatic passport allows them the use of a separate immigration counter and access to VIP lounges in the airports, among others. Apart from this, the Indian Missions abroad extend them all possible support in their visits abroad.
Lifetime Free Executive Class Travel on Air India
They are entitled to lifetime free executive class travel in the national carrier, Air India.
They are Placed ‘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 these functions, the Bharat Ratna Awardees are at position 7A above Chief Ministers and Governors of states, outside their state. This order is used for ceremonial protocol in official state functions.