A technicality in the government rules for posthumous Padma Awards has rendered India’s first individual Olympic medallist K D Jadhav ineligible for the coveted civilian honour and his son Ranjit is so aghast that he now wants to throw away the bronze his “forgotten” father won in 1952.
Wrestler Jadhav was the first Indian to win an individual Olympic medal in 1952 in Helsinki but is the only one among the entire lot of country’s Olympic medallists not to have been conferred with the Padma Awards.
All of India’s individual Olympic medallists from 1996 Games onwards have been conferred with Padma Awards and only Jadhav who died in 1984 has been left out.
A Home Ministry rule on posthumous conferment of Padma Awards says: “The award is normally not conferred posthumously. However, in highly deserving cases, the Government could consider giving an award posthumously if the demise of the person proposed to be honoured has been recent, say within a period of one year preceding the Republic Day on which it is proposed to announce the award.”
Going by this, it would be difficult for Jadhav to get the honour but his son Ranjit wants his father to be conferred with the Padma Bhushan by changing the rule just like the recent change which allows sportspersons to get Bharat Ratna.
“My father brought laurels to the country by winning the bronze medal in 1952 Helsinki Games. He was the first Indian to win an individual Olympic medal but he has been forgotten now. I feel it’s better to throw away the Olympic medal into the Arabian Sea,” Ranjit told PTI from his home in Karad in Western Maharashtra.
“If the government can change the rule recently to allow sportspersons to get the Bharat Ratna, why can’t they do it in the case of Padma Awards,” he said.
Ranjit said that government can consider his father’s case as an exceptional situation as all the other individual Olympic medal winners after Jadhav (from Leander Paes onwards) have won Padma Awards but not him.