IT is time to rethink and reimagine the nationwide sports activities awards. This yr’s awards weren’t bereft of controversy, as anticipated, for controversy has turn into an indicator of this annual recognition of sporting achievement. Every yr, the awards trigger a row, regardless of a brand new choice committee being fashioned — the fault clearly lies within the system. This yr’s choice committee has been overly beneficiant, naming a really giant variety of people for awards — 29 sportspersons for the Arjuna Award, 14 greater than instructed by the rules. It did the identical with the Dronacharya Award (13 as a substitute of 5) and Khel Ratna awards (5 as a substitute of 1).
In principle, the Arjuna Award system — for main sportspersons — shouldn’t go flawed: This points-based system, launched in 2014, assigns factors to completely different ranges of feat. However, it’s weighed closely in favour of Olympic sports activities, to the detriment of sports activities reminiscent of golf, chess, polo or snooker. For occasion, regardless of India being within the midst of a chess increase, no Arjuna Award has been given to a chess participant since 2013, and no chess coach has been given the Dronacharya Award since 2006. Often, the discretion of the choice committee overrules the factors system, as does the political choice to advertise indigenous sports activities reminiscent of kho-kho or Mallakhamb — thus athletes/coaches of those sports activities override the factors system.
The Khel Ratna suggestions are purely discretionary and infrequently flawed. The recognition for desk tennis participant Manika Batra defies logic — she gained the Arjuna Award in 2018 for her exploits at that yr’s Commonwealth and Asian Games, and now she’s been given the Khel Ratna for that very present whilst her efficiency has waned. Women’s hockey workforce captain Rani Rampal has additionally acquired the Khel Ratna, although her achievements appear comparatively paltry for this award. The choice committee is liable to err or be pressured. There is a really persuasive view that the state ought to merely present infrastructure, funds and jobs for sportspersons and get out of the enterprise of handing out awards — awards politicise sport and divert the vitality of sportspersons. But since populism can’t be executed away with, the least that must be executed is to reorganise and reform the awards system.