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Press Trust Of India
New Delhi, April 15, 2011
Sports minister Ajay Maken on Friday said that his ministry would ask the home ministry to include sports in the criteria for Bharat Ratna after calls for bestowing Sachin Tendulkar with the coveted award got louder following India's World Cup triumph. "Bharat Ratna is given only to those who have done eminent work in the field of art, literature, social service, science and technology but sports is not included in it. Sports ministry now wants to include sports also," Maken told reporters.

"And now that we want India to do well in Olympics and other international events, the sportspersons must also be considered for this honour. And if any sportsperson gets Bharat Ratna it would be a matter of pride for all the Indians. We will take up this issue with the home ministry," he said.

However, the government has already stated that bestowing 'Bharat Ratna' to sportspersons would require tweaking of criteria that has been laid down for the country's highest civilian honour.

The 'Bharat Ratna' was started in 1954 and has so far been given to 41 eminent personalities, none of whom are sportspersons, the reason being the criteria for the coveted honour.