The announcement that India's highest civilian award, the Bharat Ratna (Jewel of India) is to be awarded to former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, was made by PM Narendra Modi's BJP party a day before Mr Vajpayee turns 90. Mr Vajpayee a charismatic leader and orator retired from active politics in 2005. He served as prime minister for six years spread over two terms. Since his retirement he has not been seen in public and reports say he is in bad health. Educationist and freedom fighter Madan Mohan Malaviya who died in 1946, has been given the award posthumously. 42 people have been honoured with the Bharat Ratna thus far, including cricketer Sachin Tendulkar, musician Ravi Shankar, filmmaker Satyajit Ray, South African leader Nelson Mandela and former president APJ Abdul Kalam.