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Padma award row: Saina Nehwal's conduct shows her in a poor light

comment Updated: Jan 06, 2015 06:43 IST
Hindustan Times
Saina Nehwal

Saina Nehwal is one of India's brightest sporting stars, but her complaint that she was being ignored for the Padma Bhushan should have been avoided.

The needless controversy is the latest episode of sports personalities throwing a tantrum even when another deserving athlete is chosen for an accolade.

The badminton ace said she was "sad" the sports ministry didn't push her case, after wrestler Sushil Kumar was chosen.

Ms Nehwal, awarded the Padma Shri in 2010, pointed out that she was ignored earlier because she didn't meet the criteria that requires the completion of five years between two Padma awards and that the grappler, who received the Padma Shri in 2011, was being awarded prematurely.

It came as sour grapes, although the ministry took note of her sentiment and announced on Monday that it was recommending her name as well.

Ms Nehwal has since blamed the media for the controversy, but it is clear that she has piped down only after being assured that she would be in the list announced on Republic Day.

It is not anybody's case that Ms Nehwal does not deserve the award, far from it. But being awarded a year later will not take anything away from her achievements.

She should also have appreciated that Mr Kumar had won a second Olympic medal, a silver this time, in London 2012. She won the bronze at the London games, and three titles on the international circuit last year, but had skipped the 2014 Commonwealth Games and at the Incheon Asian Games lost early in the singles.

The practice of sports personalities kicking up a fuss must stop. Shooter Gagan Narang had threatened to skip the Delhi Commonwealth Games after Ms Nehwal was chosen for the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna ahead of him. He eventually participated and was picked for the award the next year.

Discus thrower Krishna Punia lodged a major protest after shooter Ronjan Sodhi got the khel ratna.

The government and sports federations perhaps can show more sensitivity and reach out to athletes to avoid the choice of awards becoming a public spectacle every time.

The right choices, of course, should be made every time.