Dhyan Chand, not Sachin Tendulkar, is Sports Ministry's choice for Bharat Ratna
Dhyan Chand, who won three gold medals at the Olympics - in 1928, 1932 and 1936, is widely considered as the greatest hockey player the world has ever seen. However, Sachin Tendulkar's name was not given as the BCCI had not recommended him for the Bharat Ratna.
The clamour may have been for Sachin Tendulkar but the Sports Ministry has recommended hockey legend Major Dhyan Chand's name for India's highest civilian honour -- the Bharat Ratna.
"The letter recommending Bharat Ratna for Dhyan Chand has already been sent to the Prime Minister," Sports Secretary P K Deb said.
"The Ministry has only recommended Dhyan Chand's name for the highest honour," he added.
The recommendation, sent to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, will be studied further before it goes for approval of President Pranab Mukherjee, for the hockey wizard to get the award posthumously.
A six-member delegation, led by Dhyan Chand's son Ashok Kumar, met Sports Minister Jitendra Singh on July 12. The delegations also included former India cricket captain Bishan Singh Bedi and Dhyan Chand's grandson Gaurav Singh.
"Irrespective of whether the award is given or not, it is an honour for our family that his name has been recommended by the Sports Minister for Bharat Ratna," Ashok Kumar said.
"The minister assured us that he would try his best to get Dhyan Chand's name considered for the honour. Since no other name has been recommended, so there is no conflict. We are hopeful he will get Bharat Ratna this year posthumously," he added.
Ashok also praised Bedi for pressing hard for Dhyan Chand's name during their meeting with Jitendra Singh.
Dhyan Chand won three gold medals at the Olympics -- 1928 in Amsterdam, 1932 in Los Angeles and 1936 in Berlin. He passed away in 1979.
The government in 2011 had ignored the plea of 82 Members of Parliament, who recommended Dhyan Chand's name for Bharat Ratna but in January 2012, the Ministry itself forwarded his name along with Olympic gold medallist shooter Abhinav Bindra and mountaineer Tenzing Norgay for the award.
However, Tendulkar's name was not given as the BCCI had not recommended him.