In a politically significant move, the government on Tuesday announced the highest civilian award, Bharat Ratna, for socialist icon and former Chief Minister of Bihar, late Karpoori Thakur. He will be the 49th recipient and 15th to be accorded posthumously.

“The President has been pleased to award Bharat Ratna to Shri Karpoori Thakur (posthumously),” a statement issued from the President House said. This announcement has been made on the eve of 100th birth celebration of Late Thakur.

In a post on micro blogging site ‘X’, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, “I am delighted that the Government of India has decided to confer the Bharat Ratna on the beacon of social justice, the great Jan Nayak Karpoori Thakur Ji and that too at a time when we are marking his birth centenary.”

Further, he said that the prestigious recognition is a testament to his enduring efforts as a champion for the marginalised and a stalwart of equality and empowerment. His unwavering commitment to uplift the downtrodden and his visionary leadership have left an indelible mark on India‘s socio-political fabric. “This award not only honours his remarkable contributions but also inspires us to continue his mission of creating a more just and equitable society,” Modi said.

He was born in 1924 in one of the most backward sections of society — the Nai Samaj. He was a remarkable leader whose political journey was marked by his unwavering commitment to the marginalised sections of society. He served as the Chief Minister of Bihar and was a key figure in the struggle against social discrimination and inequality.

His commitment to affirmative action gave representation and opportunities to the poor, oppressed, exploited and deprived sections of the country. His policies and reforms were pioneering in bringing about significant changes in the lives of many, especially in the fields of education, employment and farmer welfare.

According to government officials, this prestigious award is a tribute to Late Karpoori Thakur’s lifelong dedication to the upliftment of the underprivileged sections of society and his relentless fight for social Justice. Known affectionately as ‘Jan Nayak’ (People’s Leader), Thakur’s simplicity in his personal conduct was highly inspiring and contribution to Indian politics has been monumental, they added

Sources also said that by honouring Thakur, the government recognises his role as a symbol of democracy and social justice. The government also acknowledges the deep impact he has made as a motivating figure for the marginalised sections of society. His life and work embody the spirit of the Indian Constitution, which advocates for equality, fraternity, and justice for all. “This award is not only a recognition of Thakur’s past achievements but also serves as an inspiration for future generations. It is a reminder of the values that Shri Thakur stood for — simplicity, inclusiveness, and the tireless pursuit of social justice,” an official added.

Commemorative coin

Earlier, the Finance Ministry notified issuance of a commemorative coin on the occasion of the birth centenary of late Thakur .The coin will be in the denomination of ₹100. Commemorative coins are intended to celebrate and honour people, places, events, and institutions. Although these coins are legal tender, they are not minted for general circulation. Also, the price of such a coin is much higher than value printed on it.