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

President Ramnath Kovind on Thursday conferred the Bharat Ratna, the nation’s highest civilian honour, on Maestro Bhupen Hazarika posthumously.

Along with Dr Hazarika, the honour was also conferred on former President Pranab Mukherjee and social activist Nanaji Deshmukh (posthumous).

Late Hazarika’s son, Tez Hazarika, received the honour at the Rashtrapati Bhawan on behalf of the maestro. Besides Tez Hazarika, other family members of the late maestro were also present on the occasion.

Vice President M Venkaikah Naidu, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, several Union Cabinet Ministers, Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal were among those present at the function held at the imposing Durbar Hall.

Born in 1926, Bhupen Hazarika, the name will forever be etched in the minds of the Assamese for his unparalleled contributions in the field of music, cinema, literature and more.

The ‘Sudhakantha’ of Assam received many awards to his credit. In 2012, Dr Hazarika was posthumously awarded the Padma Vibhushan, India’s second-highest civilian award. He had received many laurels in his lifetime including the Assam Ratna in 2008, Dada Saheb Phalke Award in 1992.

In 2001 he was awarded Padmabhushan and honoured with Padmashri in 1977, Sangeet Natak Akademi award in 1987, National Film Award for Best Music Direction in 1975 for his film Chameli Memsaab and President’s medal for his films Shakuntala in 1961, Pratidhwani in 1964 and Lotighoti in1967.

The cultural icon also had a short stint in politics. He joined the BJP ahead of 2004 Lok Sabha elections impressed by the performance of Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s government. He was also an independent member of the Assam Assembly.

Mukherjee who is 83-years-old, has been the fifth president to receive this award and has had a political career spanning over five decades. He was the 13th President of India betwen 2012 and 2017.

A prolific reader, Mukherjee has also authored several books on the Indian Economy and on nation building. It needs to be mentioned that, in 2008, Mukherjee was also honored with India’s second civilian award, the Padma Vibhushan.

Social activist and a long time member of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangha (RSS), Nanaji Deshmukh, who also played an important role in Jan Sangha Movement of the 1970 was also conferred the Bharat Ratna, posthumously.

Deshmukh was a Lok Sabha MP from Balrampur in Uttar Pradesh, he however refused to join the cabinet of Morarji Desai. Deshmukh was also a member of the Rajya Sabha.

Soon after he decided to leave his political life and start working as a social worker. Deshmukh was also the General Secretary of Lok Sangharsh Samiti. He passed away on February 27, 2010 at the age of 95.

The announcement to confer the Bharat Ratna upon Mukherjee, Deshmukh and Hazarika was made on January 25 in a statement issued by the Rashtrapati Bhavan.