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News |  15 Aug 2018 09:00 |  By Tanmaya Vyas

Celebration of Indian musicians on 72nd Independence Day

MUMBAI: India attained freedom 72 years ago from the British Rule. Within the next few years, India saw a rapid structuring of a system and this system included an award hierarchy to acknowledge the civilians who have done a phenomenal job in their field of work. Instituted in 1954, the awards were categorised into four sections; the topmost being Bharat Ratna, followed by Padmavibhushan and then Padmabhushan and Padmashri. While the list of musicians awarded with Padmavibhushan, Padmabhushan and Padmashri is exhaustive, there are only five musicians to have been awarded Bharat Ratna. Let’s have a look at these jewels of Indian music, who received the highest civilian award in India.

M.S.Subbulakshmi: Though the award system was in place in 1954, it took over four decades to acknowledge the contribution of musicians to India’s socio-cultural scene. The first musician to be awarded Bharat Ratna was in 1996 and she was the much revered M.S.Subbulakshmi. Known as Queen of Songs, M. S. Subbulakshmi, belonged to the state of Tamil Nadu and is worshipped for her music and remembered for her performances in movies, even after her death in 2004. What very few people know is that her work towards society was equally phenomenal. She also holds the honour of being the first Indian musician to be receiving Ramon Magsaysay award, an equivalent of Nobel Prize.

Pandit Ravi Shankar: The legendary sitar maestro, Pandit Ravi Shankar, was the second musician to be conferred with Bharat Ratna. His body of work didn’t just include his virtuosity as a musician but his phenomenal work of transcending international borders and taking Indian music on a global level. His legendary collaborations with international musicians like George Harrison and Yehudi Menuhin made the west sit up and take notice of Indian Music. He was awarded Bharat Ratna in the year 1999.

Lata Mangeshkar: Widely known as ‘Nightingale of India’, Lata Mangeshkar has sung for Indian movies since time immemorial. But beyond that, her rendition of Aye Mere Watan Ke Logon, an ode to martyrs of Indo-Sino war is a timeless classic. Her repertoire includes singing songs in over 36 regional languages, making her a true Indian. She was conferred Bharat Ratna in 2001.

Ustad Bismillah Khan: Ustad Bismillah Khan, received the Bharat Ratna in the same year as Lata Mangeshkar. Ustad Bismillah Khan brought Shehnai, primarily a folk instrument that was otherwise considered to be played only during weddings, to the forefront and giving it an identity of classical music instrument. He played classical music raagas on this instrument and took it for the performance platform. His service to music was for long eight decades of the nine decades he lived.

Pandit Bhimsen Joshi: Pandit Bhimsen Joshi, a legendary Hindustani classical musician, was awarded Bharat Ratna in 2008 and is till now the last musician to be awarded Bharat Ratna. A voice that resonates the music world even today has been known as the voice of Indian Classical Music for decades now.