statesman news service
New Delhi, 19 July
Ending all speculations, the Sports Ministry today recommended hockey legend Dhyan Chand’s name for country&’s highest civilian honour — the Bharat Ratna.
"We had to name just one sportsperson for the Bharat Ratna and it was Dhyan Chand. With all due respect to Tendulkar, Dhyan Chand is a legend in Indian sports. And it was logical to recommend hockey Wizard for this award ," Sports Secretary P K Deb said "the letter recommending Bharat Ratna for Dhyan Chand has already been sent to the Prime Minister," he said, adding "the Ministry has only recommended his name for the highest honour."
The recommendation, sent to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, will be studied further before it goes for approval of President Pranab Mukherjee, for the hockey wizard to get the award posthumously. Interestingly in 2011 82 Members of Parliament, had recommended Dhyan Chand’s name for Bharat Ratna but the government ignored the plea .
However in January last year the Ministry itself forwarded his name along with Olympic gold medallist shooter Abhinav Bindra and mountaineer Tenzing Norgay for the award. Hockey India (HI), which had recommended Dhyan Chand’s name earlier this year, was elated . "It is a proud moment for Indian hockey. We sincerely hope that he is given the award," said HI secretary general Narinder Batra
A six-member delegation, led by Dhyan Chand’s son Ashok Kumar, met Sports Minister Jitendra Singh on July 12 seeking the award for the Hockey Wizard. .
The delegations also included former India cricket captain Bishan Singh Bedi and Dhyan Chand’s grandson Gaurav Singh.
"Irrespective of whether the award is given or not, it is an honour for our family that his name has been recommended by the Sports Minister for Bharat Ratna," Ashok Kumar said.
"The minister assured us that he would try his best to get Dhyan Chand’s name considered for the honour. Since no other name has been recommended, so there is no conflict. We are hopeful he will get Bharat Ratna this year posthumously," he former Olympian said .
Dhyan Chand won three gold medals at the Olympics — 1928 in Amsterdam, 1932 in Los Angeles and 1936 in Berlin, and is considered as the greatest hockey player the world has ever seen. He passed away in 1979.