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Pranab Mukherjee, Nanaji Deshmukh, Bhupen Hazarika conferred with Bharat Ratna

Pranab Mukherjee, Nanaji Deshmukh, Bhupen Hazarika conferred with Bharat Ratna

NEW DELHI: Former president Pranab Mukherjee has been awarded the Bharat Ratna, the country's highest civilian honour, by President Ram Nath Kovind. Along with Mukherjee, social activist Nanaji Deshmukh and music maestro Bhupen Hazarika have also received the Bharat Ratna posthumously.

Reacting to the award, Pranab Mukherjee said he has always got more from the people than he has given them. "It is with a deep sense of humility and gratitude to the people of India that I accept this great honour #BharatRatna bestowed upon me. I have always said, and I repeat, that I have got more from the people of our great country than I have given to them. #CitizenMukherjee (sic)" he tweeted.

Among the very first to congratulate the awardees was Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He tweeted to say that Pranab Mukherjee is an outstanding statesman of our times.

Pranab Mukherjee, who was one of Congress' senior-most leaders for decades, served as the 13th President of India from 2012 and 2017. In a political career spanning nearly five decades, Mukherjee has served as the Finance Minister, Defence Minister and also the Foreign Minister.

Social activist Nanaji Deshmukh was a founding member of the Janata Party and one of the senior-most BJP members. He also played a crucial role in the social restructuring programme in 500 villages in Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. He died in 2010 at the age of 93.

Dr Bhupen Hazarika, a music maestro from Assam, is a recipient of Sangeet Natak Akademi Award, Padmashri and Padmabhushan. He was also awarded the Padma Vibhushan, the country's second-highest civilian honour, in 2012. He died in November 2011 at the age of 85.

Folk artiste Teejan Bai, Djibouti's President Ismail Omar Guelleh, entrepreneur Anilkumar Manibhai Naik, and writer Balwant Moreshwar Purandare have been named for Padma Vibhushan, India's second-highest civilian honour.

Late actor Kader Khan, cricketer Gautam Gambhir, senior advocate HS Phoolka, scientist Nambi Narayanan, late journalist Kuldip Nayar, mountaineer Bachendri Pal and southern actor Mohanlal are among the 112 personalities selected for the Padma awards announced Friday evening ahead of India's 70th Republic Day celebrations.

One of the highest civilian Awards of the country, Padma Awards are conferred in three categories, namely, Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan and Padma Shri. See P7

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