Mumbai: Within hours after Sachin Tendulkar’s formal goodbye to the game, the Indian Prime Minister’s office conferred him the Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian award.
The cricketing legend who played his 200th Test match at the Wankhede Stadium, thus became the first sportsperson to be conferred this honour. The previous recipients of the Bharat Ratna include icons such as Nelson Mandela and Mother Teresa.
Speculations were rife that Tendulkar may get the honour. A few days ago, India’s legendary singer Lata Mangeshkar who had received this honour in 2001, said in a television interview that he deserves India’s highest civilian award for his service to the game.
Tendulkar was also the first sportsperson to receive the Padma Vibhushan, India’s second highest civilian award. He was earlier bestowed with the Arjuna award, meant for distinguished sportspersons in 1994, and Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna, another top sporting honour in ‘98. He is also the recipient of the Padma Shri, India’s fourth highest civilian award.
The PMO press release, conferring the Bharat Ratna, stated: “Shri Sachin Tendulkar is undoubtedly an outstanding cricketer — a living legend who has inspired millions across the globe.”
Congratulating him, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) President N. Srinivasan said: “Tendulkar is an inspirational figure, and a role model for all sportspersons. He richly deserves the Bharat Ratna. I extend my heartiest congratulations to him.” he said.
Sanjay Patel, Secretary of the BCCI also noted: “This is a historic moment. Sachin Tendulkar has done the country proud with his sterling achievements over the decades. Hearty congratulations to him for being conferred the Bharat Ratna.”
Earlier, the International Cricket Council (ICC) also hailed Tendulkar as a genius. The Chief Executive of the International Cricket Council (ICC) David Richardson said: “Tendulkar was an exceptional cricketer who earned the utmost respect of his peers, teammates, opponents and fans all over the world through his talent, performances and fierce competitiveness. His 664 internationals, 34,357 runs and 100 centuries over 24 years not only illustrate his determination and commitment to the game but also his mental and physical toughness which are the vital ingredients needed to reach the highest pedestal in any sport. Sachin always put his team ahead of himself during his illustrious career, but he picked up a number of personal accolades, which highlights his brilliance.”