Bharat Ratna: If Sachin Tendulkar deserves it then why not Dhyan Chand?

Zee Media Bureau/Deepak Nagpal

New Delhi: The government’s decision to award the country’s highest civilian award, Bharat Ratna, to cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar has reignited the debate on who should have got it – the master blaster or hockey legend, the late Dhyan Chand?

Sachin has become the first sportsperson to be awarded the coveted prize after rules were changed – he is also the youngest person to get the award. While lauding his achievements, many have questioned whether Sachin deserved it more than Dhyan Chand.

One argument is – an idol from India’s national sport should have got it first, i.e. Dhyan Chand.

Pradeep Jain, MoS for Rural Development, is of the view that Dhyan Chand`s contributions should not be ignored.

Jain believes though Dhyan Chand died 34 years ago, his legacy still continues.

Numerous demands had been made to confer the honour on the hockey legend. Letters were also written, some even signed as many as 81 MPs, including Congress leaders like CP Joshi, Shashi Tharoor, Beni Prasad Verma, Bharat, Sanjay Nirupam and Meenakshi Natrajan.

While disappointed at only Tendulkar being awarded the first sports category Bharat Ratna, those supporting Dhyan Chand say he should now be conferred with the award immediately.

As per sources, the Prime Minister’s Office – which takes the final call on Bharat Ratna awardees – started deliberating on Tendulkar’s name after he announced retirement from the game.

The final decision was taken as late as last week, when Sachin played his last match – his 200th Test.

The government, as per sources, was of the view that it would not be appropriate to award Bharat Ratna to Dhyan Chand now, 34 years after he passed away.

Dhyan Chand’s son Ashok, who is also a hockey Olympian, had lobbied hard for Bharat Ratna for his father.

But, with his father missing out on the coveted prize – at least for now – Ashok said the cricketing legend deserved it, adding the development has at least cleared the way for sportspersons to be awarded the highest civilian honour.

Flying Sikh Milkha Singh is also of the view that Dhyan Chand’s contribution should also be recognised, but was still happy that the government has finally started to honour sportspersons.