Hockey players and fans dismayed at denial of Bharat Ratna to Dhyan Chand

It is extremely distressing to note that the name of India’s hockey wizard Dhyan Chand has been ignored yet again while making a decision about the recipient of the prestigious Bharat Ratna award.

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently announced that former BJP leader L K Advani will receive the award but there was no mention of Dhyan Chand.

It is ironic that on one hand the government wants the Olympic Games to be held in India but is unwilling to honour India’s greatest Olympian. It was Dhyan Chand whose exploits made India the superpower of world hockey. His own name and that of India became famous throughout the world. But today he is deemed unfit to receive the nation’s highest civilian award.

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Bradman and Hitler were impressed

Sir Don Bradman once said about Dhyan Chand: “This man is amazing. He has scored as many goals as I have scored runs.” During the Berlin Olympic Games in 1936 India defeated Germany with a score of 8-1 in front of Adolf Hitler who was watching the match. It is said that Hitler was highly impressed with Dhyan Chand’s hockey playing skills.

Pleas of former India captains fall on deaf ears

India’s topmost hockey players including former captains Zafar Iqbal, Gurbux Singh, Ashok Kumar, Aslam Sher Khan and Harbinder Singh have been requesting the sports ministry for several years that Dhyan Chand should be honoured with the Bharat Ratna. But so far their pleas have fallen on deaf ears. Said, Zafar Iqbal: “There is no other person in any sport who deserves this award more than Dhyan Chand. We have been requesting the sports ministry for many years but to no avail.”

The website Olymics.com has written: “Leading India’s charge (at the Amsterdam Olympics in 1928) was their centre-forward hockey player, Dhyan Chand, who top-scored with 14 goals in 5 matches en-route to a gold medal in their debut appearance. The coming years would see Dhyan Chand’s legend grow manifold as the man from Allahabad took his game a notch higher.”

“India defended their Olympic gold at the Los Angeles Olympic Games in 1932. This time Dhyan Chand had his brother Roop Singh in the team that took the gold in LA. At the Berlin Olympics in 1936, Dhyan Chand was named captain of the side. The added responsibility only spurred him to greater exploits. The Indian hockey team scored a total of 38 goals in the competition and bagged another Olympic gold. That was how India won three successive Olympic gold medals at the Games.”

Strike rate better than star footballers

In his career Dhyan Chand played 185 matches and scored an incredible 570 goals. That makes it an average of about 3.08 goals per match. That strike rate is far better than those of legendary footballers Pele, Maradona, Messi and Ronaldo.

But look at the acclaim and respect that those footballers have received in their own countries and compare it with the fate of Dhyan Chand who died in poverty in 1979. Today, although 45 years have passed since his death, he is still being denied the recognition that he deserves. One is left wondering what more a person should do to be honoured with the award.

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