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Friday, August 22, 2014

Arjuna Awards 2014 .... Ravichandran Ashwin becomes 47th

“Arjuna Awards” are given by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, Government of India to recognize outstanding achievement in National sports. Instituted in 1961, the award carries a cash prize of Rs.5 lakhs, a bronze statuette of Arjuna and a scroll.

Over the years the scope of the award has been expanded and a large number of sports persons who belonged to the pre-Arjun Award era were also included in the list. Further, the number of disciplines for which the award is given was increased to include indigenous games and the physically handicapped category.  According to revised guidelines, to be eligible for the Award, a sportsperson should not only have had good performance consistently for the previous three years at the international level with excellence for the year for which the Award is recommended, but should also have shown qualities of leadership, sportsmanship and a sense of discipline.

In 2012, 25 sportspersons were conferred with the Arjuna awards. As has been the road to fame and recognition, Cricketers have been easily granted recognition here too.. thus far, there have been 46 Cricketers of which 8 are women – Shantha Rangaswamy, Diana Edulji, Shubhangi Kulkarni, Sandhya Agarwal, Mithali Raj, Anju Jain and Anjum Chopra.  The first Cricketer was Saleem Durrani, followed by Mansur Alikhan Pataudi, Vijay Manjrekar, Chandu Borde, Ajit Wadekar, Erapalli Prasanna, Bishan Bedi,  Venkat, Chandra, Solkar, Gavaskar, Kapil Dev and more. 
Ravi Ashwin and Mrs Sudha Ragunathan (with Yours Truly) in SYMA function

Just days after occupying the top spot in the International Cricket Council (ICC) Test rankings for all-rounders, Ravichandran Ashwin is set to become a proud recipient of the Arjuna award. Ashwin and shooter Heena Sidhu were among those named as Arjuna Award winners for this year. Ashwin becomes the 47th Indian cricketer.

Putting an end to speculations, the Sports Ministry on Thursday stuck to the original list of Arjuna awards winners, thereby dashing boxer Manoj Kumar’s hopes of getting the sporting honour. The controversial recommendation of boxer Jai Bhagwan for the prestigious Arjuna Award was finalised after the selection committee, decided not to make any changes in the original 15-athlete list. Sports Authority of India (SAI) Director General  is quoted as saying that the panel discussed seven athletes in the review meeting but it was unanimously agreed that no changes were needed.

The sports ministry subsequently approved the names of all the athletes recommended by the panel for the ceremony to be held on August 29 at the Rashtrapati Bhawan. The controversy started after the selection committee, which originally met on August 12, choose Bhagwan over 2010 Commonwealth gold medallist boxer Manoj. It forced the committee to meet again and reconsider its decision. Apart from Bhagwan, 20-year-old squash player Anaka Alankamony’s inclusion in the list had also raised eyebrows, while Hockey India secretary general Narinder Batra went to the extent of slamming the panel for overlooking seven of its recommended players.  Manoj, with 32 points, had maximum points amongst the boxers who applied for the honour and two more than Delhi CWG bronze medallist Bhagwan.

Meanwhile, in a rare decision, no athlete has been found suitable for the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna in 2014.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

22nd Aug 2o14.

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