No sooner did Sachin Tendulkar take retirement from the cricket field last November that the Government of India announced his name for the most prestigious civilian award in the nation, Bharat Ratna. This made a huge army of the cricketer’s fans overjoyed, but at the same time, it also raged a section that questioned his credibility as a receiver of the award before the legendary hockey player, Major Dhyan Chand.
Earlier the Bharat Ratna was awarded for exceptional performance in any of the fields related to arts, literature, science and public services but the criteria expanded in 2011 to include “any field of human endeavour”. Tendulkar became the first sportsperson to receive the honour on February 4, 2014.
Tendulkar has made more records than anyone could probably manage to pull off in one life time, making him the “God of Cricket” in India. He is the only player to have scored one hundred international centuries, the first batsman to score a double century in a One Day International, the only player to complete more than 30,000 runs in international cricket. His achievements run a lengthy list that one could write an entire book only talking about Tendulkar’s achievements.
Sachin Tendulkar no doubt, is a jewel of India who has brought India immense pride and honour. He is a well-deserved awardee of the Bharat Ratna. However, are we to ignore the achievements of the legendary hockey player who took India’s national game to an international level; the man who was in charge of the golden era of hockey in India?
Dhyan Chand was considered the magician of hockey and was titled as “The Wizard” for his excellent control over the ball, scoring more than 400 goals in his international carrier. He performed exceptionally well and India consecutively won three Olympic gold medals (1928, 1932, and 1936) in the field of hockey. His performance was almost unreal that the Olympic officials in Holland doubted that his Hockey stick had a magnet inside and it was torn apart to confirm its authenticity; in Japan they thought it was glued. Adolf Hitler even offered to buy his stick. Such was the grandeur of Dhyan Chand that in Vienna sports club, Germany built a statue of him with four arms and four sticks.
Ashok Kumar, who is the son of the Hockey Legend and a hockey Olympian himself, has been reaching out to the government asking them to consider Dhyan Chand for the Bharat Ratna. The Flying Sikh, Milkha Singh also poured his opinion about honouring Major Dhyan Chand with the Bharat Ratna for his major contribution towards the national game of India.
Does this indicate towards negligence of the sport of hockey despite its status as the national game of the country?
Comparing the two legends would be nothing short of absurdity, but if Tendulkar is seen worthy of honour of the Bharat Ratna, then why not the same for Dhyan Chand as well?
Image Source [Google]