No Bharat Ratna, just six Padma Shris for sportspersons
New Delhi: Contrary to expectations, no Bharat Ratna, Padma Vibhushan or Padma Bhushan were awarded to Indian sportspersons and all they had to be content with were six Padma Shris in the Republic Day honours announced in New Delhi on Wednesday.
Ajeet Bajaj (skiing), Jhulan Goswami (women`s cricket), Zafar Iqbal (hockey), Devendra Jhajrija (athletics-paralympics), Limba Ram (sports-archery), Syed Mohammed Arif (badminton) are the six sportspersons who will get the Padma Shri. Ravi Chaturvedi (commentary) and Prabhakar Vaidya (physical education) also have been named for Padma Shri in the sports category.
Last year, the government expanded the criteria for Bharat Ratna, making sportspersons eligible for the highest civilian award.
Hockey legend Dhyan Chand, shooter Abhinav Bindra, India`s first individual Olympic champion, and Tenzing Norgay, the first Indian to scale the Mount Everest, were recommended by their federations for the prestigious award.
Chess great Vishwanathan Anand reportedly was also recommended for the award while India`s cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar was recommended by various individuals but not by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).
BCCI vice-president Rajiv Shukla, also a Congress MP, said the board recommends cricketers only for Arjuna and Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna and not for Padma awards or the Bharat Ratna.
"Names are generally recommended by individuals and government panel makes the final decision. Even when Sachin got a Padma Shri and the Padma Vibushan, he was never recommended by the BCCI. We don`t give any names for this, BCCI just writes in for the Arjuna Award," said Rajeev Shukla.