Hockey Olympian Ashok Dhyanchand lobbied hard for his father, the legendary hockey player Major Dhyan Chand, to get the prestigious Bharat Ratna ever since the government modified the rules making sportspersons eligible for the highest civilian award of the country.
As luck would have it, he didn’t succeed, as batting maestro Sachin Tendulkar, who retired from international cricket on Saturday, was finally chosen as the first sportsperson to receive the award.
Despite being a disappointed man, given the battle he was fighting for his late father, the hockey Olympian was the first to congratulate Tendulkar.
“Tendulkar deserves it. My father has done a lot for Indian hockey and I always wanted him to be conferred with the country’s highest civilian award. The sports ministry promised to recommend his name. I don’t know what happened behind the scenes but the decision has at least paved the way for sportspersons to receive the prestigious award,” the member of the 1975 World Cup-winning squad told HT.
Milkha Singh, also fondly called the Flying Sikh, echoed Ashok’s voice. “It’s good for Indian athletes as, from now onwards, their services too would be recognised. I had raised the issue more than a decade ago and I am happy that the government has finally decided to honour a sportsperson with the award.”
Milkha though felt that Dhyan Chand’s services should also be recognised by awarding him the Bharat Ratna, but added, “The good thing is, finally it has started.”