Other Sports

Saina to be nominated for award as a ‘special case’

In a move that could potentially have far-reaching consequences, the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports has recommended Saina Nehwal for the Padma Bhushan award as a ‘special case’.   | Photo Credit: V_V_SUBRAHMANYAM

In a move that could potentially have far-reaching consequences, the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports has recommended Saina Nehwal for the Padma Bhushan award as a ‘special case’.

At a media briefing on Monday evening, Sports Minister Sarbananda Sonowal claimed that the decision was taken after considering the 24-year-old badminton player’s “commitment, contribution and achievement.”

The minister asserted, however, that this move should not be treated as a precedent.

The Sports Ministry claimed that the Badminton Association of India (BAI) had not sent the letter of recommendation until Saturday. Since Minister Sonowal was away from the city and there was no working day until Monday, Saina’s case could not have been considered earlier.

It was revealed at the media briefing that the letter dated August 9, 2014, was received at the Minister’s residence on Saturday. The Ministry of Home Affairs had invited the nominations for the Padma awards from May 1 to September 15 last year.

According to the Sports Ministry, a letter was circulated to all National Sports Federations and Sports Control Boards that set August 20 as the last date for receiving nominations.

After considering all cases, wrestler Sushil Kumar’s name was recommended to the Home Ministry. Saina’s allegation that the Sports Ministry had intimated her that she could not be considered in 2014 since she had received the Padma Shri in 2010 was quashed too.

Under normal circumstances, there’s a five-year period between two Padma awards. However, according to the ministry, her name had not been recommended by BAI for the 2014 list, and the discussion with Saina never took place.

Acknowledging the debate around the nomination process, Minister Sonowal claimed the decision to nominate Saina was impacted by his clear intention to encourage sportspersons and promote sport.

The Sports Minister also emphasised that he only viewed the nomination from a “sporting angle” and did not wish to be involved in “petty politics.”

Sonowal added that there was a provision that allows a person to apply directly for the Padma awards to the Home Ministry.

Yet, the reason to nominate Saina as a “special case” remained unclear. It’s widely accepted that her case for a Padma Bhushan recommendation had not been discussed until her outburst on Twitter.

Special Correspondent from Hyderabad adds

In a chat with The Hindu on Monday evening, BAI secretary (tournaments) K.Ch. Punnaiah Choudhary said: “We had recommended Saina’s name to the Ministry in August with all the relevant papers. And, we have the confirmation of it also. So, there is no question of BAI not responding in time.

“Anyhow, we are glad that the Sports Ministry has finally recommended Saina’s name. I did try to speak to her but there was no response. We hope she will get the award,” he added.

Though not available for comment, it is learnt that Saina told her family members that she was happy with the Sports Ministry’s decision.

‘Didn’t demand award’

She is also said to be disappointed at the way a section of the media had insinuated that she was demanding the award when she was merely raising her concerns.

On Saturday, a post on her Twitter account said: “Friends I m not demanding for the award my question was why my name was not sent to the home ministry and then of course the panel will decide the awards.(sic)”

Here's what the badminton player said over the Padma Bhushan row:

This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | May 10, 2021 12:34:27 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/other-sports/sports-ministry-to-recommend-saina-for-padma-bhushan/article6756954.ece

Next Story