The Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award, the highest sporting honour of India, has been renamed Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna Award, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced today. The renaming recognises the ultimate hockey hero and legend of the sport, Dhyan Chand. The Prime Minister said the move was based on the numerous requests he received from across the nation.
“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!” tweeted the Prime Minister with #JaiHind. The change comes at a time India’s hockey teams have captivated the imagination of the nation with their performance at the Toyko Olympics. Dhyan Chand himself has been conferred with several honours, including India’s third highest civilian honour of Padma Bhushan in 1956. In addition to this, the Government of India also celebrates his birthday on August 29 as National Sports Day. “Major Dhyan Chand is India’s most legendary & loved sporting icons; it is only befitting that India’s Highest Sporting Honour be named after him”, Sports Minister Anurag Thakur tweeted.
Launched in 1991-92, the award comprises a medallion, a certificate, and a cash prize of ₹ 25 lakh. The first recipient of the Khel Ratna was chess legend Viswanathan Anand. Some of the winners in recent years include cricketer Rohit Sharma, wrestler Vinesh Phogat, women’s hockey team captain Rani Rampal, among others.