The highest sporting honour in India- the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award has been renamed by the government of India. Now the award has been named after the Hockey Legend Major Dhyanchand. Now the award will be called the Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna Award.
PM Narendra Modi himself announced the move on his social media handles by posting a picture of him paying tributes to a statue to the hockey legend with the caption, “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!”
Praising the decision, the home minister Amit Shah said that the move will make everyone associated with the sporting world proud and called it the real tribute to the sporting hero.
The change came at a time when the Men’s Hockey team caught everyone’s attention and praises after winning a bronze medal in Olympics after 41 years and the Women’s team narrowly missed out on bronze after losing to Great Britain 3-4.
Just before announcing the change, PM Modi tweeted, “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 towards Hockey that is emerging across the length and breadth of India. This is a very positive sign for the coming times.”
Major Dhyan Chanda led India to the Gold Medal in the 1936 Berlin Olympics. He was the captain of the side which defeated Germany 8-1 in the final in front of their home crowd. The winning margin against Germany still remains the Highest ever win margin in an Olympic Final.
He was also a part of the team which defeated the USA 24-1 in the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics, which continues to be the biggest margin of victory in the history of Olympics hockey.
However, the congress party termed this move as fueled by Modi’s hatred of Gandhis and asked to rename the Narendra Modi stadium & Arun Jaitley stadium after legendary sportspersons like Milkha Singh, Sunil Gavaskar, Sachin Tendulkar, Kapil Dev, Leander Paes, P T Usha, Mary Kom, Abhinav Bindra and many others.
His nickname the Wizard was given to him by the German Dictator Hitler at the Award ceremony of the 1936 Olympics. He was so impressed by his masterclass that he asked Dhyan Chand to join the German Army. Major and the entire stadium went silent for a few seconds fearing that if Dhyan Chand refused the offer then the dictator might shoot him. He replied to Hitler with closed eyes but in a bold voice of an Indian soldier that ‘India is not for sale’. To this Hitler saluted him, instead of shaking his hand and said, ‘The German nation salutes you for the love of your country India and your nationalism.’
Major Dhyan Chand’s birthday is celebrated as National Sports Day every year on the 29th of August.