Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that India’s highest sporting award will be renamed after hockey wizard Major Dhyan Chand, a change which effectively removes “Rajiv Gandhi” prefix to the Khel Ratna. The Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award, launched in 1991-92, comprising a medallion, a certificate and a cash prize of Rs 25,00,000, will now be known as the Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna Award. Chess legend Viswanathan Anand was its first recipient.
The announcement sparked a discussion over the “political overtones” of the decision though Modi tweeted that he had been getting many requests from citizens across the country to name the Khel Ratna Award after Major Dhyan Chand. “Respecting their sentiment, the Khel Ratna Award will hereby be called the Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna Award,” the PM said and shared a picture paying floral tributes to Major Dhyan Chand.
The PM, who has been interacting with the Indian contingent participating in the Tokyo Olympics and had also urged the nation to keep encouraging the Indian players, said the exceptional performance of the men’s and women’s hockey teams has captured the imagination of the entire nation.
“There is a renewed interest towards hockey that is emerging across the length and breadth of India. This is a very positive sign for the coming times,” he added. BJP hailed the announcement made by PM Modi with home minister Amit Shah calling it a “true tribute to one of India’s greatest sportspersons”. Defence minister Rajnath Singh said Dhyan Chand is a symbol of inspiration and pride for Indian sportspersons.