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|January 30, 1999||
Bharat Ratna for Ravi Shankar, Gopinath Bordoloi
Sitar maestro Pandit Ravi Shankar and late Assamese politician Gopinath Bordoloi have been awarded the Bharat Ratna.
This is the second time the country's highest civilian award has been announced this year and makes Ravi Shankar and Bordoloi the third and fourth persons, respectively, to be selected by the Bharatiya Janata Party-led coalition government. The late Socialist leader Jayaprakash Narayan, who was conferred the award posthumously in December last year, was the first. Nobel laureate Amartya Sen was the second.
Bordoloi, a former chief minister of Assam, has also been selected posthumously for the award.
Ravi Shankar is India's most recognised and esteemed musical ambassador. His career began at the age of 10 when he accompanied his elder brother, the great dancer Udai Shankar, to Paris where he attended school and developed an interest in music.
But it was Ustad Allauddin Khan and his disciplined and intensive training that groomed him to world fame.
Ravi Shankar, 78, introduced a different India to the world. Through the sitar, he became a rage in the West and a trend-setter of a non-conformist interpretation of music.
His concerts and achievements are far too many to recount. He made his European and American debuts as a sitarist in 1956. In 1980, the New York Philharmonic Orchestra under the direction of Zubin Mehta commissioned him to compose 'Raga-Mala', his second sitar concerto.
As far back as 1967, Ravi Shankar appeared with violinist Yehudi Menuhin in concert at the United Nations in New York. The recording of the music composed by him for this celebration of Human Rights Day was voted the classical record performance of the year.
The maestro has taught many a musician in the traditional guru-shishya style. He helped introduce new artistes like flautist Hariprasad Chaurasia, santoor maestro Shivkumar Sharma, and violinist L Subramaniam.
His genius has evoked innumerable tributes. Yehudi Menuhin's comment -- "His genius and humanity can only be compared to that of Mozart" -- underlines his greatness.
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