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Special Content

Issue no 22, 28 August - 3 September 2021

Celebrating the Hockey Wizard Major Dhyan Chand

National Sports Day Special


National Sports Day is celebrated on August 29 every year to commemorate the birth anniversary of hockey legend Dhyan Chand Singh. The day was included in the list of celebratory days in India for the first time in 2012.

A legend of Indian hockey, Dhyan Chand is considered to be one of the best players to have ever played the sport. His career spanned from 1926 to 1948 and ended as one of the greatest hockey players of all time after having represented India in 185 matches and scored over 400 goals during this period. Such was Dhyan Chand's mastery of the game and so dazzling was his ball control that he earned the epithets 'Hockey Wizard' and 'The Magician'.

Dhyan Chand started playing hockey seriously during his stint with the British Indian Army and between 1922 and 1926, he competed in numerous Army hockey tournaments and regimental games. While he retired as a Major in the Punjab Regiment of the Indian Army in 1956, the Indian Government went on to confer the Padma Bhushan, third-highest civilian award, the same year.

India and Olympics

Star of the Indian hockey team that dominated the sport in the years before World War-II, the prolific Dhyan Chand played a key role in India's three consecutive gold hauls at the Olympic Games—in 1928, 1932 and 1936.

When the newly-formed Indian Hockey Federation (IHF) decided to send a team for the 1928 Olympics in Amsterdam, Dhyan Chand was called for the trials. He made it to the Olympic team and hit the ground running. Dhyan Chand scored 14 goals in five matches to become the top scorer of the tournament, with the Indian hockey team emerging undefeated to win the gold medal.

No trials were needed for Dhyan Chand when the Indian team for the 1932 Olympics was selected and this time the squad included his brother Roop Singh as well.

At the Los Angeles Games, the Indian field hockey scored 24 goals in a match against the US, a record that stood firmly for seven decades, 10 off Roop Singh's stick and eight from Dhyan Chand.

In the subsequent 1936 Olympic Games, Dhyan Chand headed to Berlin as captain of the Indian hockey team. He ended the Berlin Games with a total of 11 goals in five matches. In all, he scored 37 goals in 12 matches at the Games across three editions and three Olympic gold medals.

Dhyan Chand passed away on December 3, 1979. He will always be remembered as one of the greatest hockey players. In his honour, the National Stadium in New Delhi was renamed as the Dhyan Chand National Stadium in 2002.

On August 6, 2021, Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted that he has been getting many requests from citizens across India to name the Khel Ratna Award after Major Dhyan Chand.

Respecting their sentiment, he added, the "Khel Ratna Award will hereby be called the Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna Award." The Prime Minister further said that Major Dhyan Chand was among India's foremost sportspersons who brought honour and pride for India. It is fitting that our nation's highest sporting honour will be named after him.

The Khel Ratna Award was instituted in 1991-92 and the first was awarded to India's first-ever Grand Master and a fivetime world chess champion Viswanathan Anand. The objective is to honour sportspersons to enhance their general status and to give them greater dignity and place of honour in society. Under it, an amount of Rs. 25 lakh is given as award for the most spectacular and outstanding performance by a sportsperson over a period of four years immediately preceding the year in which the award is to be given.

Apart from Khel Ratna, India honours its sportspersons with several other awards which are collectively known as the National Sports Awards.

National Sports Awards

National Sports Awards are given every year to recognize and reward excellence in sports. It is an umbrella term used for six sports awards given for performance in different categories. The National Sports Awards function is held on August 29 every year. However, the function has been pushed back this year since the Government wants the selection panel to consider the perform-ances of the para athletes competing in the Tokyo Paralympics. The Paralympics began on August 24 and will end on September.

Arjuna Award: The Arjuna Award is the oldest among all with the first award being handed out in 1961. To be eligible for the award, one should have experience of four years at the international level with excellence for the year for which the award is recommended. Apart from consistent out-standing performance for four years, one should have also shown qualities of leadership, sportsmanship and a sense of discipline. The awardee is given a statuette, certificate, ceremonial dress and a cash award of Rs. 15 lakh.

Dronacharya Award: This award was instituted in 1985 to honour eminent coaches who have successfully trained sports-persons or teams and enabled them to achieve outstanding results in international competitions. The awardees are given a statuette of Guru Dronacharya, a certificate, ceremonial dress and a cash award of Rs. 10 lakh (regular category) and Rs. 15 lakh (lifetime category).

Dhyan Chand Award: The country's highest award for lifetime achievement in sports is known as the Dhyan Chand Award. It was instituted in 2002. It is given to honour those sportspersons who have contributed to sports by their performance and continue to contribute to promotion and development of sports even after their retirement from active sporting careers. The awardee is given a statuette, a certificate, ceremonial dress and a cash award of Rs. 10 lakh.

Tenzing Norgay National Adventure Award: This is the highest national recognition for outstanding achievements in the field of adventure on land, sea and air. A cash award of Rs. 5 lakh and a certificate of honour is given to the awardees. This award is at par with the Arjuna Award for sporting excellence.

Rashtriya Khel Protsahan Puruskar: With a view to recognising the contribution made to sports development by entities other than sportspersons and coaches, the Government has instituted a "Rashtriya Khel Protsahan Puraskar" from 2009, which has four categories, namely, identification and nurturing of budding/young talent, encouragement to sports through corporate social responsibility, employment of sportspersons and sports welfare measures, and sports for development. The award consists of a citation and a trophy in each of the above mentioned categories. There is no cash award.

Maulana Abul Kalam Azad Trophy: This trophy was instituted in 1956-57. The top overall performing university in the inter-university tournaments is given the Maulana Abul Kalam Azad (MAKA) Trophy, which is a rolling trophy. A small replica of the MAKA Trophy is also awarded for retention by the university.

The Government has also proactively taken various initiatives to encourage sports culture and sportspersons in India. One such initiative is the Khelo India programme. The Khelo India programme has been introduced to revive the sports culture in India at the grass-root level by building a strong framework for all sports played in our country and establishing India as a great sporting nation. The Khelo India scheme identifies and trains players for international sports events such as the Olympics. The new umbrella scheme was launched (in 2016-17) after the merger of existing schemes Rajiv Gandhi Khel Abhiyan, Urban Sports Infrastructure Scheme and National Sports Talent Search System Programme.

Khelo India has twelve components, which aim at achieving the twin objectives of the National Sports Policy 2001— broadcasting of sports and achieving excellence in sports, which in turn will infuse sports culture in the country and enable it to derive benefits that sports offers, namely, holistic development of children and youth; community development; gender equity; healthy nation; national pride; and economic opportunities related to sport development.

The Hon'ble Prime Minister, with a view to make fitness an integral part of our daily lives, launched the FIT INDIA Movement on August 29, 2019. The mission of the Movement is to bring about behavioural changes and move towards a more physically active lifestyle. The Movement also aims to encourage indigenous sports, to make fitness reach every school, college/university, panchayat/ village, and to create a platform for citizens of India to share information, drive awareness and encourage sharing of personal fitness stories.

To celebrate Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, FIT India Mission has conceptualized FIT INDIA FREEDOM RUN 2.0. The nationwide campaign is on the concept of "Physical/Virtual Run" in continuum from August 13 to October 2, 2021, to encourage fitness and help us all to get freedom from obesity, laziness, stress, anxiety, and diseases. The concept behind this run is that "It can be run anywhere, anytime!". Aimed at "Jan Bhagidari se Jan Aandolan", the Freedom Run will culminate on Gandhi Jayanti with nationwide Fit India Plog Run.


(Compiled by Annesha Banerjee & Anuja Bhardwajan)

Source: Olympics.com/PIB/ India 2021/YAS Ministry