Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar just can’t keep off records. On the last day of his cricketing career he made two more— by becoming the first sportsperson and also the youngest dignitary to be chosen for Bharat Ratna, the country's highest civilian award.
Along with the 40-year-old batting legend, eminent scientist Prof CNR Rao (80) will also be bestowed with the award.
According to a news channel, Tendulkar dedicated the award to his mother Rajni.
Tendulkar and Rao, recipients of the country’s second highest civilian honour, Padma Vibhushan, will join the league of 41 personalities honoured with the award given since 1954 in recognition of exceptional services of highest order.
Among the past awardees are Jawaharlal Nehru, Sir CV Raman, Satyajit Ray, Mother Teresa and Indira Gandhi.
The Bharat Ratna was announced after a gap of four years with Hindustani music doyen Bhimsen Joshi being the last recipient in 2009.
The decision to award Bharat Ratna to Sachin was taken after several noted personalities rooted for it. Fellow Maharashtrian and Bharat Ratna awardee Lata
SLIDESHOW: Sachin Tendulkar timeline
Mangeshkar on Friday said, “Very few people can do what he has done for the country. He deserves the honour, he has made us proud.”
"Sachin Tendulkar is undoubtedly an outstanding cricketer - a living legend who has inspired millions across the globe. During the last 24 years, since the young age of 16 years, Tendulkar has played cricket across the world and won laurels for our country," the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement.
"He has been a true ambassador of India in the world of sports. His achievements in cricket are unparalleled, the records set by him unmatched, and the spirit of sportsmanship displayed by him exemplary,” the statement said.
“That he has been honoured with several awards is testimony to his extraordinary brilliance as a sportsman."
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh spoke to Tendulkar on phone and congratulated him for the award, saying he wished Tendulkar many more years of contribution to sports.
BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, West Bengal chief minister Mamta Banerjee, Maharashtra leaders and various personalities congratulated Tendulkar on being chosen for the honour.
(With inputs from PTI)