Pandit Bhimsen Joshi, the legendary exponent of Hindustani classical music, was on Tuesday night chosen for the Bharat Ratna, the country's highest civilian award.
The honour for the 86-year-old vocalist, who belongs to 'kirna' gharana, caps a distinguished career spanning more than seven decades since he first performed at the age of 19.
This was after a gap of seven years that the government selected a performing artist for the highest award, the last previous recipient being shenai maestro Ustad Bismillah Khan.
In fact, the last time a person was chosen for the honour was Khan.
'The President has been pleased to award the Bharat Ratna to Pandit Bhimsen Joshi,' a Rashtrapati Bhavan [Images] communique said late Tuesday evening.
On being told about the award being conferred upon him, Pandit Bhimsen Joshi said, "I accept this honour on behalf of all Hindustani vocalists who have dedicated their life to music."
"I just talked to my father and he said he was glad and he accepts this honour on behalf of all Hindustani vocalists down the centuries who have dedicated their life to their music," said Srinivas Joshi.
Born in Gadag district of Karnataka on February 19, 1922, Joshi has already bagged several prestigious honours, including Padma Vibhushan in 1991, Padma Bhushan in 1985 and Padma Shri in 1972.
Pandit Bhimsen Joshi is the sixth person from the field of art and culture to get the Bharat Ratna award after Satyajit Ray, M S Subbulakshmi, Pandit Ravi Shankar, Lata Mangeshkar [Images] and Ustad Bismillah Khan.
He is the second vocalist to get the highest civilian award after Subbulakshmi in 1998. I accept this honour on behalf of all vocalists: Bhimsen Joshi.
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