The Bharat Ratna medal that will be presented to Sachin Tendulkar on Tuesday was made in 2000, the year he quit as captain of India. The India Government Mint in Kolkata has spruced up the medal, and sent it to the Ministry of Home Affairs last week.
Just after the award was announced on November 16, the MHA approached the Alipore mint for sprucing up two medals that had been lying in its vault — left over from 2000 when the mint had supplied four medals to the MHA.
The ministry gave no reason for opting to refurbish old medals even as the mint had manufactured two new ones at a cost of Rs 2 lakh each. “It is usual procedure to keep standbys as a new medal takes 5-6 months to make,” an official said. The mint received the 14-year-old medals from the MHA on January 11. After they had been polished and their ribbons and cases changed, the medals were sent back under seal on January 30. The cost of refurbishment was “not much”, the official said.
Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian award, was instituted in 1954 to recognise exceptional service or performance in any field of human endeavour. The recipient receives a sanad (certificate) signed by the President and a medallion. Tendulkar and eminent scientist Prof C N R Rao will receive the award from President Pranab Mukherjee on February 4 at Rashtrapati Bhawan.
The original specifications specified a circular gold medal, 35 mm in diameter, with the sun, and Bharat Ratna written in Hindi above and a floral wreath below. The reverse was to carry the state emblem and motto. One year later, the design was altered.
It is now in the form of a peepal leaf 5.8 cm long, 4.7 cm wide and 3.1 mm thick in toned bronze. On the obverse is an embossed sun, 1.6 cm in diameter, below which Bharat Ratna is embossed in Hindi. On the reverse are the state emblem and motto, also in Hindi.
The emblem, sun and rim are made of platinum while the inscriptions are in burnished bronze. The medal is attached to a 51-mm white ribbon, and is designed to be put around the recipient’s neck.