No Arjuna for Sakshi, Chanu?

Vinayak Padmadeo

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 20

Past Khel Ratna award-winners Sakshi Malik and Mirabai Chanu could not get their palms on the Arjuna Award trophy and the advantages that include it, in any case.

The Justice (retd) Mukundakam Sharma-led committee had advisable 27 names for the Arjuna Award to the Sports Ministry on Tuesday. The checklist had two different names — Rio Olympics bronze medal winner Sakshi and 2017 world champion Mirabai — however the resolution on the Arjuna for them was left to the discretion of Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju.

2017 world champion Mirabai Chanu is Khel Ratna award winner. File

The committee felt their inclusion would have meant excluding two deserving candidates. However, it’s learnt that the Sports Ministry has decided and it’s extremely seemingly that their names will likely be lacking when the ultimate checklist is launched.

No perks

Both Sakshi and Mirabai had put of their purposes saying their state governments don’t recognise the Khel Ratna in relation to jobs and different perks which might be given to Arjuna Award winners.

Both the ministry and the committee members have been criticised for the way by which the awards had been finalised. The 29 names within the Arjuna Award checklist included one athlete from kho-kho as a result of the Sports Ministry insisted on one award to the indigenous sport. The committee despatched 4 names for the celebrated Khel Ratna award, including a fifth identify (girls’s hockey workforce captain Rani Rampal) however leaving it to the discretion of Rijiju.

The identify of desk tennis star Manika Batra for the Khel Ratna has raised doubts over the suggestions standards. Batra was awarded the Arjuna Award in 2018 based mostly on her exploits at that 12 months’s Commonwealth and Asian Games. Strangely, the Khel Ratna advice has been made on the identical efficiency, whereas her world rating has slipped all the way down to No. 63.

Just a few committee members raised objections over her identify, however the majority view, led by Justice Sharma, ensured that Batra acquired the advice.

Sushil, Ronjan criticise excessive numbers

The massive variety of suggestions has been criticised by previous winners, together with two-time Olympics medallist Sushil Kumar and 2013 winner Ronjan Sodhi.

Sushil mentioned: “I feel people should maintain the dignity of these awards and this is not an Olympic year!”

Former world No.1 double lure ace Sodhi too felt that among the selections had been out of line. “The number of awards given this year is not right. I think they should change the award from Khel Ratna to Khel Ratnas! On a serious note, the Khel Ratna was always given to the best athlete of the year and especially in a non-Olympics year. I understand when three people win Olympics medals then one has to give them their due. But giving five this time in a non-Olympics year is bizarre,” Sodhi mentioned. “Twenty-nine Arjuna Award recommendations is unheard of, even in a year with events like the Commonwealth and Asian Games. I don’t know what they (committee) were thinking. There was no sporting activity this year and still they gave out 29 awards! How many will they award next year?” he added.

However, Sodhi had some sympathy for Sakshi and Mirabai. “I know Arjuna Award winners get concessions in travel and are free to enter any stadium in India, while Khel Ratna winners don’t get those perks. So the government needs to change the rules so that Khel Ratna winners get their due,” he mentioned.

Virtual ceremony

President Ram Nath Kovind is not going to be handing over the awards personally to the winners as this 12 months’s sports activities awards ceremony will likely be held nearly because of the Covid pandemic. The winners will likely be requested to return to Sports Authority of India’s regional centres, the place they are going to be handed over their trophy and certificates. It will likely be televised stay on Doordarshan. Interestingly, there will likely be two units of certificates — one with the President and different with the award winner. Once the President exhibits the certificates, the athlete will present his/her copy on stay TV.

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