Every time we talk about Indian Hockey, one name always crops up in our mind--Major Dhyan Chand.
Every year, there are speculations on whether the hockey legend will be conferred with the country’s highest civilian award, Bharat Ratna. But, that has never happened.
However, this year, Dhyan Chand will be confered with the ''Bharat Gaurav'' Lifetime Achivement Award by NRI orgainsation Sanskriti Yuva Sangstha at the House of Commons inside the British Parliament on July 25.
The hockey wizard who passed away in 1979, has made the country proud on several occasions. All of 5 feet 7 inches, Dhyan Chand won India three Olympic golds. He had scored over 400 goals in his international career. But statistics count for nothing when one considers his influence on the game that he picked up only after joining the Army at 16.
On behalf of Dhyan Chand, his son and former Indian hockey player Ashok Kumar will receive the award.
"It is a proud moment for the entire family. This award is a big thing for us. It translates Dada Dhyan Chand's popularity beyond India," said Kumar.
The hockey legend was one of the nominees in 2014 for the prestigious Bharat Ratna, an award which cricketer Sachin Tendulkar and scientist C N Rao eventually received.
Legend has it, that in 1936, when India won the gold medal in Berlin Olympics, Hitler offered Dhyan Chand to join the German team but he had denied the offer. In 1935, Bradman watched Dhyan Chand in action in Adelaide and said, “He scores goals like runs in cricket.”
Long back in 1956, Dhyan Chand was honoured with the Padma Bhushan. The government released a postage stamp on his first death anniversary in 1980.
In November 2011, when the Indian government amended rules for sportspersons to be eligible for Bharat Ratna, 82 MPs, a number of UPA ministers among them, together wrote to the Prime Minister's Office, recommending Bharat Ratna for Dhyan Chand.
Since 2012, the union sports ministry has twice recommended Dhyan Chand for Bharat Ratna. The UPA government, in fact, dithered for two years since amending the rules before picking Tendulkar as a ''popular choice'' on the day of his retirement.
Finally, Dhyan Chand is getting the much-deserved recognition, even it's not at home.