Government paves way for Bharat Ratna in sports

December 16th, 2011 - 7:55 pm ICT by IANS  

Sachin Tendulkar New Delhi, Dec 16 (IANS) The government has modified the eligibility criteria for the Bharat Ratna paving the way for sportspersons like the late hockey legend Dhyan Chand to be conferred the country’s highest civilian award, sports minister Ajay Maken said here Friday.

Maken said his ministry had requested the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and the Home Ministry to modify the eligibility criteria for sportspersons for Bharat Ratna. The award earlier was given to individuals for excelling in fields of art, literature, science and public service but now after the modifications it could be conferred for performance of highest order in any field of human endeavour.

“I wrote a letter to Home Minister on April 15. The Prime Minister and Home Minister have very kindly agreed now to change the norm. Instead of the fields of art, literature, science and public services, now on November 16, Government has notified that for performance of highest order in any field of human endeavour Bharat Ratna could be awarded,” Maken told reporters here outside parliament house.

“For me as a sports minister this is one of the biggest days of Indian sport and next biggest day I think will be the day when any sportsperson is named as an awardee of Bharat Ratna,” he said.

Maken said that Dhyan Chand and batting maestro Sachin Tendulkar are the top contenders for the award.

“Both of them I think should be the top contender but there are many other contenders for Bharat Ratna award if it is given to a sportsperson. Ultimately, the decision has to be taken by the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister takes the decision and recommends it to the President,” he said.

Bharat Ratna was instituted in 1954 and has been conferred upon 41 individuals so far.

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