If Sachin Can Get Bharat Ratna, Why Not Dhyan Chand?

Dhyan Chand, who led India to three Olympic gold medals, has no Bharat Ratna to his name till date.

3 min read

(This article was first published on 29 August 2016 and has been reposted from The Quint’s archives to mark Dhyan Chand’s birth anniversary.)

The National Sports Day has been named after Dhyan Chand, but the hockey legend has not been conferred with the Bharat Ratna yet.

Every year hockey greats and the legend’s family demand for a Bharat Ratna for Dhyan Chand, but the government denies them every time.

It’s been six years since sportspersons have been eligible for the Bharat Ratna, but the award has eluded the player who led India to three Olympic gold medals (1928-1932).


On 28 August 2016, former captains Ajit Pal Singh, Zafar Iqbal, Dilip Tirkey and Dhyan Chand’s son Ashok Kumar gathered at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi, in the hope that the government will fulfil their demand and confer Bharat Ratna on the legend who guided India to Olympic gold medals in 1928, 1932 and 1936.

The former captains demanded the Bharat Ratna for the late hockey legend, with some saying the “wizard” should have been given the honour ahead of cricketing icon Sachin Tendulkar.

We have all gathered here in the hope that dada Dhyan Chand gets the honour which is long overdue. But we can only hope that he gets it. It is the political will that matters.The same was the case when Sachin Tendulkar was conferred with the honour (in 2014). It makes no difference to his stature, whether dada (Dhyan Chand) gets the award or not. But he should get it as he is most deserving for the recognition.
Zafar Iqbal
Dhyan Chand, who led India to three Olympic gold medals, has no Bharat Ratna to his name till date.
Sachin Tendulkar (L) receives the Bharat Ratna award from the President Pranab Mukherjee at the Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi on 4 February 2014. 
(Photo: Reuters)

The clamour for the award to Dhyan Chand had resurfaced after he missed out on the honour in 2013 when Tendulkar was chosen for the country’s highest civilian honour ahead of the hockey legend. Even the sports and home ministry recommending Dhyan Chand for Bharat Ratna did not prove to be enough when the UPA was in power.

Ajit Pal, who captained India to victory in 1975 World Cup, said Dhyan Chand should have been the first sportsperson to get the honour.

People world over know him. He is known as a wizard of hockey and we have heard so many stories about him. If any sportsperson deserves the honour, it is him. He should have been the first one to get it. He played and won gold medals when India used to travel on bullock carts, there was extreme poverty. His sacrifice for the game is huge. The earlier governments erred in not giving him the award. I hope this government rectifies this mistake.
Ajit Pal
Dhyan Chand, who led India to three Olympic gold medals, has no Bharat Ratna to his name till date.
Former hockey players sitting at a demonstration in front of a sand image to demand Bharat Ratna honour for hockey legend Dhyan Chand, at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi on Sunday. 
(Photo: PTI) 

Dhyan Chand’s son Ashok Kumar said it is sad that that the hockey fraternity has been forced to repeatedly remind the government.

He has been a father figure for us in hockey. Countless have picked up the game after being inspired by him and gone on to bring laurels for India. They looked up to the era of 1928, 1932 and 1936 and it is still binding the game. It is not a good feeling that we have all gathered here to demand Bharat Ratna for him. The government should have decided on it long ago. 
Ashok Kumar

“If the central government don’t want to give the award, they should make it clear once and for all. We don’t want to be kept in the dark anymore,” Ashok Kumar added.

Former captain Tirkey said Dhyan Chand not getting his due is a classic case of discriminatory attitude towards sports.

It is sad that we discriminate between sports. It is even more sad that we are demanding an award for him. He played when there was no recognition, no media. All I want to say is that we request the government to do the needful as soon as possible.
Dilip Tirkey

Other former players in attendance of the gathering were Ashish Ballal, AB Subbaiah and Mohammed Riaz.

(With inputs from PTI.)

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