Breaking news - Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award rechristened as Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna Award
Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award, the highest sporting honor of India, will be renamed Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna Award, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced today. The renaming recognizes the ultimate hockey hero and legend of the sport, Dhyan Chand. The change undercuts and eclipses the name of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi of the Congress.
“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!” Prime Minister Modi tweeted.
The Khel Ratna award was instituted in 1991-1992 and the first recipient was Chess legend, Viswanathan Anand. Among the other winners were Leander Paes, Sachin Tendulkar, Dhanraj Pillay, Pullela Gopichand, Abhinav Bindra, Anju Bobby George, Mary Kom, and Rani Rampal in 2020. The change also comes on the day, Indian women's hockey team narrowly missed out on a bronze medal drawing curtains on its spirited show at the Toyko Olympics. A day before, the men's hockey team won an Olympic bronze after a wait of 41 years.
"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 in Hockey that is emerging across the length and breadth of India. This is a very positive sign for the coming times," the Prime Minister said in another tweet, just before announcing the new name for the award.
Known as The Wizard, Major Dhyan Chand, a field hockey player, played international hockey from 1926 to 1949, scoring over 400 goals in his career. Dhyan Chand, born in Allahabad, was a part of the Olympic team that won gold medals in 1928, 1932, and 1936.