In a fitting finale to what has been a glorious career, batting maestro Sachin Tendulkar was on Saturday chosen for the prestigious Bharat Ratna, the country's highest civilian award, making him the first sportsperson to be bestowed with the honour.
The 40-year-old icon, who called time on his glittering international career today, was chosen for the top award soon after his farewell Test against the West Indies ended in Mumbai.
A brief statement issued by Rashtrapati Bhavan spokesperson Venu Rajamony said the President has awarded the Bharat Ratna to Tendulkar, who retired from the International cricket today.
Tendulkar bows out as the most successful batsman in international cricket with 15,921 runs in 200 Tests. In his ODI career, which he needed last year, Tendulkar amassed 18,426 runs in 463 matches.
The Mumbaikar is the only batsman in international cricket to score 100 centuries. He was the first batsman to get a double hundred in one-dayers.
The award is a perfect send off gift to Tendulkar whose career spanned 24 years making him an inspiration for an entire generation of cricketers.
There have been continuous demands for him to be conferred the honour for a long time and the eligibility criteria of the award was revised last year to accommodate sportspersons as well.
Tendulkar, who became the first active sportsperson to become a Rajya Sabha member last year, is being given the honour along with Professor CNR Rao, the man behind India's maiden Mars mission. Prof CNR Rao is an eminent scientist and a well recognized international authority on solid state and materials chemistry. He has published over 1,400 research papers and 45 books.
Prof Rao's contributions have been recognized by most major scientific academies around the world through conferment of memberships and fellowships. He has been honoured with several national and international awards.
The Bharat Ratna is being conferred after a gap of years with classical vocalist Pandit Bhimsen Joshi being the last recipient.