at least 18 of them have been brahmins. not counting others i'm not sure about. most of the others are from other 'upper castes': vaishyas, kayasths, khatris, baidyas. one parsi, a few muslims, two christians. one dalit and three obcs (if you consider m.s.subbulakshmi, married to a brahmin and upholder of brahminical high culture, an obc).
the most important contenders this year too were mostly from the brahmin and other upper caste communities- vajpayee, jyoti basu, sachin tendulkar. one of them would've got it if some busybodies hadn't dragged in kanshi ram's polluting name. a minor consolation: vinod dua, who has been speaking against caste (i mean, the lower castes) since mandal 1 and barkha dutt, who has been speaking against caste (the lower castes, again) since mandal 2 have both been awarded the padma shri. rajdeep sardesai, whose caste speaks so eloquently, has also been awarded the padma shri, for proposing sachin tendulkar's name and elevating the debate on the bharat ratna (after some narrowminded spoilports, as i had pointed out earlier, had brought in some unsavoury names: like ram manohar lohia, a vaishya who hobnobbed with the lower castes and jagjivan ram, and so on) to a higher plane.
one feels, some people need to understand that a bharat ratna can't be awarded along narrow caste lines: one has to rise above caste and become a brahmin in order to claim that honour.