Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on August 6, announced that the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award, the highest sporting honour of India, has been renamed after Hockey legend Dhyan Chand. Now the award is recognised as Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna Award.
Taking to Twitter, PM Modi wrote, “I have been getting many requests from citizens across India to name the Khel Ratna Award after Major Dhyan Chand. I thank them for their views. Respecting their sentiment, the Khel Ratna Award will hereby be called the Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna Award! Jai Hind!”
Dhyan Chand, who had a grand career from 1926 to 1948, had been conferred with India’s third-highest civilian honour of Padma Bhushan in 1956. He got India three Olympic gold medals. National Sports Day is celebrated after his birthday.
Such a change had come when India’s men hockey team ended their journey at Tokyo Olympics with a historic bronze medal, defeating Germany after 41 years. Men’s team and the women’s hockey team have captivated the nation’s imagination with its performance.
Praising both teams, PM Modi, in another tweet, wrote, “The exceptional performance of the Men’s and Women’s Hockey Team has captured the imagination of our entire nation. There is a renewed interest towards Hockey that is emerging across the length and breadth of India. This is a very positive sign for the coming times.”
Khel Ratna was launched in 1991-92. It is awarded annually and comprises a medallion, a certificate and a cash prize of Rs 25 lakh.
The first-ever recipient of the Khel Ratna was chess legend, Viswanathan Anand. Recent notable recipients are Rohit Sharma, Wrestler Vinesh Phogat, Rani Rampal- women’s hockey team captain, among others.