Hockey wizard Dhyan Chand is likely to become the first sportsperson to be awarded the Bharat Ratna after the sports ministry has moved a recommendation for the same.
Official sources in the Ministry of Sports have confirmed that sports minister Jitendra Singh has written to the Prime Minister recommending Dhyan Chand’s name for the award.
“The minister has sent the letter of recommendation to the Prime Minister a few days back. We are hopeful that it will be considered favourably,” the Sports Secretary P.K. Deb confirmed.
The Bharat Ratna has so far been given only to eminent personalities from the field of dance, music, art, literature and the social sector with sportspersons brought into the ambit only in 2011.
Dhyan Chand and Sachin Tendulkar have been at the forefront for being the first awardees. There had been a lot of clamour for conferring the award on Tendulkar, with then sports minister Ajay Maken indirectly endorsing the suggestion.
Dhyan Chand’s son Ashok Kumar welcomed the move. “We had met the sports minister a few days back regarding this issue and I am happy to know that he has acted on our request.
“I am not taking anything away from anyone’s achievements but given the circumstances in which dadda Dhyan Chand became synonymous with Indian sports, I feel he deserves to be the first recipient of the honour,” said Ashok Kumar.