Sat, 16 Nov 2013 16:15:00 GMT | By PTI/IANS

Sachin Tendulkar to get Bharat Ratna

Sachin Tendulkar became the first sportsperson to be rewarded with country's highest civilian award

Sachin Tendulkar to get Bharat Ratna (© Reuters)

New Delhi: In a fitting finale to what has been a glorious career, batting maestro Sachin Tendulkar was today chosen for the prestigious Bharat Ratna, the country's highest civilian award, making him the first sportsperson to be bestowed with the honour.

The 40-year-old icon, who called time on his glittering international career today, was chosen for the top award soon after his farewell Test against the West Indies ended in Mumbai.

A brief statement issued by Rashtrapati Bhavan spokesperson Venu Rajamony said the President has awarded the Bharat Ratna to Tendulkar, who retired from International cricket today.

Tendulkar bows out as the most successful batsman in international cricket with 15,921 runs in 200 Tests. In his ODI career, from which he retired last year, Tendulkar amassed 18,426 runs in 463 matches.

The Mumbaikar is the only batsman in international cricket to score 100 centuries. He was the first batsman to get a double hundred in one-dayers.

The award is a perfect send off gift to Tendulkar whose career spanned 24 years, making him an inspiration for an entire generation of cricketers.

There have been continuous demands for him to be conferred the honour for a long time and the eligibility criteria of the award was revised last year to accommodate sportspersons as well.

Tendulkar, who became the first active sportsperson to become a Rajya Sabha member last year, is being given the honour along with Professor C N R Rao, the man behind India's maiden Mars mission.

The Bharat Ratna is being conferred after a gap of years with classical vocalist Pandit Bhimsen Joshi being the last recipient.

Crowned with India's top civilian honour, Sachin Tendulkar goes down in history as the first sportsperson and the youngest recipient of the award till date, surpassing late prime minister Rajiv Gandhi's record.

He will also become the ninth person from Maharashtra to join the exclusive club of 43 Bharat Ratna awardees till date, which includes a galaxy of presidents, prime ministers, Nobel laureates, scientists and artistes.

While Rajiv Gandhi held the record for being the youngest Bharat Ratna awardee, posthumously at the age of 47, Sachin, now 40, has pulled down the record even further.

People from Maharashtra - either those born here, or who lived and worked here to contribute to the nation have bagged the lion's share of the Bharat Ratnas announced till date.

Some of them include: the Father of Indian Constitution, B.R. Ambedkar, Vinoba Bhave, Morarji Desai, Pandurang Vaman Kane, Dhondo Keshav Karve, Lata Mangeshkar, J.R.D. Tata and Bhimsen Joshi.

The latest entrant on the list is Sachin Tendulkar - a true blooded Mumbaikar like Lata Mangeshkar, another awardee who was named in 2001.

In fact, the late Pandit Bhimsen Joshi, though hailing from Karnataka, but spent a better part of his life and shaped his career in Maharashtra, was the last recipient of Bharat Ratna in 2008.

The first Bharat Ratna, coming after nearly six years, has gone to a Mumbaikar and the city now boasts of two living Bharat Ratna legends -- Lata and Sachin.

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