The Yoga Federation of India (YFI) has recommended Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh for the Dronacharya Award. Singh’s name was forwarded to the sports ministry last month for producing ‘World Champion yogis’. YFI president Ashok Kumar Agarwal said Singh’s trainees Neelam and Karamdeep won medals at the World and Asian Cups last year, which made him eligible for the award. “His contribution to the sport cannot go unnoticed. He has given birth to several international yoga stars, including world and Asian champions. So, as per ministry’s policy, we recommended his name for the Dronacharya Award last month,” Agarwal told The Indian Express.
Singh has also been recommended for the Lifetime Achievement Award, given to two coaches who have produced ‘outstanding sportspersons’ over a period of 20 years. Singh’s spokesperson Dr Aditya Insaan said their institute in Sirsa has been assisting sportspersons since 1998. “The Shah Satnam Ji Foundation-run schools, colleges and institutions have made it to international podium finishes with only Saint Dr Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh Ji Insaan as their mentor and Papa coach,” the spokesperson said. “Virat Kohli, Shikhar Dhawan, Amit Mishra, Zaheer Khan, Yusuf Pathan, Ashish Nehra, Praveen Kumar, Joginder Sharma and countless national level players have played tournaments here. And all of them were extremely happy to be here.”
A sports ministry official said the award panel will take a final decision in the coming weeks. The ministry had added yoga to the ‘priority sports’ list two years ago. However, the decision was reversed in December last year after it found it difficult to form a federation and conduct national championships.
As per the ministry’s policy, nominations for the award are accepted from ‘National Sports Federations recognised by the Government of India, Indian Olympic Association, Sports Promotion and Control Boards and State/UT Governments.’ “To be eligible for the award, a coach should have produced outstanding achievement over a period of four years immediately preceding the year in which the award is to be given,” the ministry’s guidelines for the award read. The YFI, on its website, claims it is recognised by the Indian Olympic Association. “Our duty was to recommend his name. It is up to the sports ministry to decide whether to give it to him or not,” Agarwal said.