Mandatory for all sportspersons to attend Padma Awards: Gill

April 17th, 2009 - 7:28 pm ICT by IANS  

Harbhajan Singh New Delhi, April 17 (IANS) India’s sports minister M.S. Gill said Friday that he has issued a circular to all national federations that sportspersons from now on should be present in person to receive Padma Awards from the President of India.
Gill’s decision came after cricketers Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Harbhajan Singh skipped the Padma Awards Tuesday.

“I have sent a notice to all sports federations that players should be present individually to receive the award from the President. I have also circulated this notice to the home secretary. No substitutes will be allowed from now on,” Gill was quoted as saying by NDTV.

According to media reports, both star players were busy shooting for commercials. Some reports said that Harbhajan was present in the national capital finishing his brand engagements before leaving for the second edition of the Indian Premier League in South Africa.

Harbhajan, however, insisted that he had to be at home in Jalandhar to attend to some pressing family problem.

Gill said that if a sportsperson was not able to attend the ceremony, he should inform the sports ministry in advance. “On a later date, the sports minister will hand over the award to the sportsperson,” he added.

The sports minister said that young cricketers should follow greats like Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and V.V.S. Laxman.

“Last year it was a pleasant to see a great player like Sachin Tendulkar to come and take the Padma Vibhushan. So why can’t these players follow Sachin, Dravid and Laxman,” said a miffed sports minister.

India’s Olympic bronze-medallist Vijender Singh also criticised the star cricketers for skipping the prestigious Padma Awards.

“Those who feel and respect the value of the Padma awards, strive for it and bring glory for the country and often miss out on the awards. I don’t want to comment on those who don’t value this honour,” said the 23-year-old, who won India’s maiden boxing Olympic medal in Beijing.

Vijender and bronze-medal winning wrestler Sushil Kumar were denied Padma Awards despite their incredible performance in the Olympics.

“Back in Beijing, we had given our best and clinched success after a long time in boxing. Yet it was a disappointment when we were not considered for the Padma Awards. But that is for the authorities to decide and I won’t complain. My job is to work hard and hope for a better performance in future,” Vijender added.

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