The Bharat Ratna rules are being tweaked to include the great cricketer Sachin Tendulkar, who will ultimately get it. There is not much debate there. But it will be a travesty if Indian sport ends up producing just one Bharat Ratna in 64 years.
A look at five people who deserve the honour too…
Dhyan Chand: The Original Wizard
He won three Olympic hockey golds from 1928-36.
In the 1928 edition, he top scored with 14 goals but missed the final due to illness. He bettered his record by scoring 8 goals in the 1932 final when India thrashed hosts USA 24-1. They are yet to recover from that blow.
1936 was the icing on the cake. A strong India and Germany met in the finals and played in front of Adolf Hitler. Chand captained his team and top scored with 3 goals to thrash Germany 8-1. The goal we conceded was the only one in the tournament.
It is said that Hitler immediately offered Chand German citizenship and the rank of Colonel.
Dhyan Chand was the driving force in India’s utter domination of world hockey in that era. To give an example, in one season alone, India played 37 matches, losing none, scoring a whopping 338 goals (that’s 9 per match). And Chand scored 133 of these 338 goals!
His life was full of anecdotes. Once the opposition suspected foul play and broke his hockey stick to check. At another time he scored goals with a walking stick.
Roger Federer is the greatest in tennis. Pele is the greatest in football. Outside India, people still think of Donald Bradman as the greatest cricketer. Dhyan Chand is regarded as the world’s greatest field hockey player of all time.
The Dhyan Chand Award is already our country`s top sports award for lifetime achievement.
Isn’t it time to give him a Bharat Ratna?
And shouldn`t he be the first person to get it?
In Image: India`s then Sports Minister M.S. Gill (L) sprinkles rose petals at the statue of late Indian hockey player Dhyan Chand during a ceremony to dedicate the reconstructed Dhyan Chand National Hockey Stadium to the nation in New Delhi on January 24, 2010.