Sachin Tendulkar India
Sachin Tendulkar acknowledges the crowd as he walks back to the pavilion after his final innings for IndiaBCCI

Just a few hours after Sachin Tendulkar called time on an incredible 24-year career in cricket, the Little Master was conferred with the Bharat Ratna, India's highest civilian award.

The Prime Minister's Office made the announcement shortly after India beat the West Indies in Mumbai in Tendulkar's 200th and final Test match.

"Shri Sachin Tendulkar is undoubtedly an outstanding cricketer -- a living legend who has inspired millions across the globe," a PMO release said. "During the last 24 years, since the young age of 16 years, Shri Tendulkar has played cricket across the world and won laurels for our country.

"He has been a true ambassador of India in the world of sports. His achievements in cricket are unparalleled, the records set by him unmatched, and the spirit of sportsmanship displayed by him exemplary.

"That he has been honoured with several awards is testimony to his extraordinary brilliance as a sportsman."

Tendulkar has been tipped to receive the Bharat Ratna for a couple of years now after the award was amended to include "performance of highest order in any field of human endeavour," when before it was only for art, literature, science and public services."

Tendulkar thus becomes the first sportsperson to receive the award and it is a fitting tribute to the great man who was brought to tears as his career wound down earlier on Saturday.

Sachin has previously won the Padma Vibhushan, India's second highest civilian honour, while he has also been conferred with the Padma Shri, Arjuna award and the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award.

Meanwhile, BCCI president N Srinivasan said Tendulkar was fully deserving of the honour. "Sachin Tendulkar is an inspirational figure, and a role model for all sportspersons," he said via a BCCI media release. "He richly deserves the Bharat Ratna. I extend my heartiest congratulations to him."