The government is considering change a rule to allow cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar to receive the country's highest civilian award - the Bharat Ratna. Right now, sportsmen are ineligible.
"A suggestion regarding modification in the existing eligibility norms has been received and is under consideration," Minister of State for Home Mullappally Ramachandran told the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday.
There have been growing calls in recent years to confer the Bharat Ratna on Tendulkar, the world's most successful Test and one-day batsman ever. However, the criteria for recipients, formulated in 1955, limits the award to "exceptional services in arts, literature and science, and in recognition of public services of the highest order."
Sports Minister Ajay Maken had written to the Home Ministry last month suggesting an amendment that would make sportsmen such as Tendulkar eligible.
There have been 41 recipients of the Bharat Ratna, including two foreigners: Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan, the Afghan who fought for India's Independence in 1947, and Nelson Mandela of South Africa.
Tendulkar, 38, holds the world record for most runs (14,810 in Tests and 18,111 in one-dayers) and most centuries (51 in Tests and 48 in one-dayers).
He is currently playing a five-Test series in England and needs one more century to become the first batsman in history to score 100 international centuries.