New Delhi: Twenty Seven athletes across various sporting disciplines will be given the National sports awards on Thursday. While the number of awardees has gone-up this year, there are some who've been in the queue for long, and have missed out again. The question then is, are the parameters for these prestigious awards good enough? And how do you deal with the problem of backlogs?
Not just one of the finest Indian batsmen, but Rahul Dravid is one of the best players to have ever played the game of cricket. But 'The Wall' who protected India on the cricket pitch for 15 long years, has still not been awarded the country's highest sporting honour - the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna.
Dravid finished as the highest run scorer in Tests for the year 2011, add to that his retirement from the sport early this year and many believe this was the perfect time to give the wall the honour he so richly deserves.
Instead, it's being given to Olympic medalists, shooter Vijay Kumar and wrestler Yogeshwar Dutt.
"There is some lack of communication. Rahul Dravid doesn't need to prove his credentials by having that particular award, he is the greatest we've known," former India cricketer Bishen Singh Bedi said.
The BCCI has now recommended Dravid's name for the Padma Bhushan. Interestingly, Colonel Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, the chairperson of the Khel Ratna committee, himself got the award in 2005, a year after his Olympic silver in Athens. Surely then, Vijay and Yogeshwar could've waited as well?
"This time there was great deal of emphasis on Olympic sport. It is unfortunate, yes he (Dravid) deserves each and every award that any sportsman can get in this country," said Randhir Singh, General Secretary of Indian Olympic Association.
And then there are those who have given up after waiting for so long. Like 13-time Grand Slam champion Mahesh Bhupathi.
Or even Boniface Prabhu, the face of wheelchair tennis in India, who has won more than 15 international titles, including one Grand Slam title. "Awards are being given to two disabled athletes but I have been ignored again," Boniface Prabhu said.
While it's great that 25 athletes are getting the Arjuna this time instead of 15, and 2 are getting Khel Ratna instead of 1, the bigger problem is, how to deal with the problem of backlogs. The idea one gets is of the federations not pushing enough. It is then upto the athlete, to use all kinds of sources to get the job done, like squash player Dipika Pallikal had to do this time around, to assure herself of an Arjuna Award.