The Government of India on Saturday decided to award the Bharat Ratna to Sachin Tendulkar, who incidentally retired the same day in the morning after playing his 200th Test in Mumbai.
Tendulkar and eminent scientist Professor CNR Rao were the two names announced by the government for the highest civilian award.
"The Government has decided to confer, the Bharat Ratna, the highest civilian award on eminent scientist Prof C.N.R.Rao and cricket icon Sachin Tendulkar," the official government press release said.
"Shri 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, Shri Tendulkar has played cricket across the world and won laurels for our country," it added.
"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. That he has been honoured with several awards is testimony to his extraordinary brilliance as a sportsman," the release concluded
Reacting to the news, Tendulkar, who is the first sportsperson and the youngest to get the Bharat Ratna, told CNN-IBN that he dedicates this award to his mother. "I am thankful for this honour. I dedicate it to my mother. India is my motherland," he said.
Bharat Ratna is the highest civilian honour given for exceptional service towards advancement of art, literature and science, and in recognition of public service of the highest order. The provision of Bharat Ratna was introduced in 1954. The first ever Indian to receive this award was the famous scientist, Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman.