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President Murmu confers Bharat Ratna on ex-PMs Narasimha Rao, Charan Singh

President of India Droupadi Murmu, on Saturday, awarded the prestigious Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian honour, to former Prime Ministers PV Narasimha Rao and Chaudhary Charan Singh, agricultural scientist MS Swaminathan, and two-time former Bihar Chief Minister Karpoori Thakur, posthumously. The ceremony took place at the Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi. The awards granted to Rao, Singh, Thakur, and Swaminathan were accepted by their family members.

PV Prabhakar Rao, son of the former Prime Minister PV Narasimha Rao received the award on behalf of his father from the President. Jayant Chaudhary, grandson of Chaudhary Charan Singh and chief of the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD), accepted the honour. Swaminathan’s daughter, Nitya Rao, and Thakur’s son, Ram Nath Thakur collected the awards on their parent’s behalf from the President.

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This year’s Bharat Ratna awards saw the government announcing five recipients, including the stalwart of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and former Deputy Prime Minister LK Advani.

PV Narasimha Rao, who held the prime ministerial office from 1991 to 1996, earned the moniker ‘Chanakya of Indian politics’ for his role in initiating economic reforms and navigating the political landscape with finesse. He was the first Prime Minister from southern India, and the first Congress leader from outside the Nehru-Gandhi family to complete a full five-year term. PM Rao guided India through the tumultuous early 1990s. He passed away on December 23, 2004, at the age of 83.

Chaudhary Charan Singh, a prominent Jat leader from western Uttar Pradesh, held the position of Prime Minister from July 28, 1979, to January 14, 1980. He was known for his dedication to land reforms and his intolerance towards inefficiency and corruption in administration. He died in 1987 at the age of 84.

Renowned agricultural scientist M S Swaminathan, who passed away on September 28, 2023, at the age of 98, played a pivotal role in India’s agricultural transformation. Collaborating with American agronomist Norman Borlaug, Swaminathan introduced high-yielding genetic varieties of rice and wheat, leading India to self-sufficiency in food production by 1971. His research addressed food insecurity and empowered small farmers, earning him the first World Food Prize in 1987. He is considered the ‘father of the green revolution’ in India.

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