The Arjuna Awards committee, led by former India captain Kapil Dev, decided not to nominate any sportsperson for this year’s prestigious Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna. There were seven names in fray for this year’s award, but the members were of the opinion that none of them qualified for the award.
Golfer Jeev Milkha Singh, discus thrower Krishna Poonia, tennis player Somdev Devvarman, para-athletes HN Girisha and Devinder, and discus thrower Vikas Gowda had submitted their claims. While Girisha’s name was not recommended as he hadn’t been awarded the Arjuna Award, Somdev’s name was dropped as he had no performance to show since 2010. Jeev’s name was put forward by Kapil himself, but the committee members were not convinced. The other names were disregarded for their lack of performance.”We did not recommend a name for the Khel Ratna this time. Jeev’s name came up for discussion, but the members did not agree,” Kapil Dev told reporters.
In a welcome change, this year’s meeting passed off without any major controversy. Last year’s award had been one of the most controversial in recent years. Poonia had openly revolted after Ronjan Sodhi’s name was announced for the Khel Ratna. The then sports minister, Jitendra Singh, had come under severe pressure from the Jat groups from Rajasthan to reconsider Poonia’s name. The situation was such that the award ceremony had to be postponed.
Recognition for Joseph
Volleyball player Tom Joseph’s name was among the 15 announced for the Arjuna Awards. This was the tenth straight year that he had filed his nomination. Last year, Joseph’s name was controversially dropped in the last minute even though his name was cleared as the 16th member on the list. But a few of the members, including Zafar Iqbal and Surinder Khanna, felt including his name would take the sheen away from the awards, and so had struck it off. They further argued that the Indian spikers hadn’t won anything worthwhile at the international level.
This year, though, he got the clearance without any objection. Also getting the nod was all-rounder Ravichandran Ashwin, middle-distance runner Tintu Luka and golfer Anirban Lahiri. Interestingly, Girisha, who was overlooked for the Khel Ratna, has been accommodated for the Arjuna Award this year.
Dhyan chand for ratna
Recommendations have been received for conferring the Bharat Ratna on hockey great Major Dhyan Chand and they have been forwarded to the Prime Minister’s Office, Lok Sabha was informed on Tuesday.
“Although no formal recommendations for Bharat Ratna are necessary, the recommendations have have been received for Bharat Ratna to late Major Dhyan Chand from several quarters. These recommendations have been forwarded to the Prime Minister’s Office,” Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju said in reply to a written query in Lok Sabha. —PTI
Arjuna Award nominees
R Ashwin (Cricket)
Heena Sidhu (Shooting)
Tintu Luka (Athletics)
(Anirban Lahiri (Golf))
Abhishek Verma (Archery)