In a break from tradition, the "horrific" Dronacharya and Arjuna Awards, the country's highest sporting awards, could well look like the Oscars or our very own Filmfare awards.
On a day when MS Gill assumed office as Sports Minister of Cabinet rank (earlier he was Minister of State with independent charge), he also announced that hockey would soon get a democratic set-up and that the men's and women's bodies would be merged as mandated by the international hockey federation (FIH).
“I was horrified by the trophies (Dronacharya and Arjuna) in big plastic boxes…they looked funny and un-aesthetic. We then downloaded the Oscars and took down the dimensions. It feels so better to grip an award like that made from bronze. In fact, I found the Filmfare award even better than the Oscar,” said the minister.
“We did a lot of research before my previous term ended and, till my last working day, I was pursuing it,” said Gill, adding that the Tenzing Norgay award for adventure to would be modelled on similar lines — the first Everest summiteer holding the ice axe triumphantly. “I was passionately involved with the whole thing and this time I will change it.”
Certainly some 'fresh' thinking on the part of the minister, but try telling the hundreds of Dronacharya and Arjuna awardees who hold these “horrific” awards close to their hearts.
As talks veered around to the Padma Awards and the controversy they generated a few months back, Gill stuck to his stand that “substitutes” would not be allowed to take the awards on behalf of the awardees.
“People (read sportspersons) keep sending substitutes. Can there be a substitute to the Queen of England? I issued a circular to all sports federations asking them to be stringent on this issue. I can understand if a player is playing in the West Indies. He can send in his apologies and I will give him the award at a time, which is convenient to both of us. But substitutes will not be allowed.”
On hockey, the minister said he had full faith in the players despite their poor performance in the Asia Cup at Malaysia recently.
“I don't care which tournament they lose, my faith and support will be with them.”
It was time to say goodbye with the minister indicating that he had a meeting with his deputy Arun Yadav.
It was time to set things in motion in right earnest.