Sachin bags Bharat Ratna; first sportsperson to do it

Sachin TendulkarCricket icon Sachin Tendulkar, often referred to as the the 'Master Blaster', will be conferred with the Bharat Ratna, India's highest civilian award, the Prime Minister's Office said in a release today.

Sachin played his last Test innings on Friday, scoring a handsome 74 runs against the West Indies on his home turf of Mumbai.

In his 24-year international career, the 40-year-old cricketer has broken almost every batting record – and also proved himself a useful occasional bowler. The most successful batsman in international cricket amassed 15,921 runs in 200 Tests. In his one-day international (ODI) career, which he ended last year, Tendulkar amassed 18,426 runs in 463 matches.

Tendulkar is the first sportsperson to be awarded the Bharat Ratna. He will become the seventh Maharashtrian to win Bharat Ratna after Dhondo Karve, Pandurang Kane, Vinoba Bhave, B R Ambedkar, Lata Mangeshkar and Bhimsen Joshi – all pre-eminent persons in different fields; some long dead and a few still alive.

Living recipients of the award include rocket scientist and former President of India A P J Abdul Kalam (1997) and economist Amartya Sen (1999). The only foreign recipient of the award was Nelson Mandela (1990).

Tendulkar reportedly said that he dedicates the award ''to my mother''.

Several noted personalities had voiced the opinion that Tendulkar should get the Ratna.

Musician Lata Mangeswas among the first with her congratulations, saying, "Whatever he has done for the country, very few people can. He deserves the honour. He has made all of us proud."