The sports ministry’s decision to recommend hockey wizard late Dhyan Chand’s name over Sachin Tendulkar for the Bharat Ratna has initiated a debate. Should Tendulkar have been recommended for the nation’s highest civilian award ahead of the late hockey genius?
However, the ministry said on Friday that it had to send the name of only one sportsperson to the Prime Minister’s Office and Dhyan Chand, the three-time Olympic gold medalist who passed away in 1979, was the right choice. “We had to name just one sportsperson. With all due respect to Tendulkar, Dhyan Chand is a legend in Indian sports. And it was logical to recommend Dhyan Chand for the Bharat Ratna since we have named every other trophy after him,” said PK Deb, Secretary-Sports.
Dhyan Chand, the most prominent member of the victorious squads in the 1928, 1932 and 1936 Olympics, is widely regarded as the greatest hockey player ever.
Hindustan Times conducted a poll and also spoke to a few former India cricketers, who all backed the choice of Dhyan Chand. “There is no question of a comparison. Dhyan Chand deserves it. There is no competition here. Tendulkar deserves it too and will receive it one day. This is definitely a big honour for Dhyan Chand,” former India wicketkepeer Kiran More said.
Former India all-rounder Madan Lal endorsed More’s views. “Sachin can wait for it. Dhyan Chand had done a lot of good for the country. He got a lot of laurels. He deserves it over for Sachin. Nobody should be complaining. Sachin still has time, there are a lot of things he can do for the country. If Sachin does more for the people, he’ll also get it one day.”
Former India opener Anshuman Gaekwad too felt Dhyan Chand was the deserving candidate. “Normally this award is given after a consensus, so Sachin doesn’t come into picture. At the moment, Dhyan Chand deserves it. The days when he played hockey for India were difficult times. There were no facilities or money,” he said.