India's only individual Olympic gold medallist Abhinav Bindra was recommended for the Bharat Ratna, the highest civilian award, by the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) Monday.
NRAI recommended the 10-metre air rifle Olympic champion three days after sports minister Ajay Maken announced that sportspersons would now be eligible for the country's highest civilian award.
"The NRAI has sent a recommendation letter to sports minister Ajay Maken requesting him to consider Bindra for the nation's highest honour. Bindra is one of the top contenders for the award and it will be a big boost for shooting in India," NRAI secretary-general Rajiv Bhatia told IANS here.
Bindra, who is currently training in Germany, said it was a big honour to be recommended for the Bharat Ratna.
Maken had said last week that besides hockey legend Dhyan Chand and cricket maestro Sachin Tendulkar, there are several deserving sportspersons who are eligible for the Bharat Ratna as well.
The sports ministry in a letter April 15 requested the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) and the Home Ministry to modify the eligibility criteria for sportspersons for Bharat Ratna.
The award earlier was given to individuals for excelling in fields of art, literature, science and public service but now after the modifications it could be conferred for performance of highest order in any field of human endeavour.
Bharat Ratna was instituted in 1954 and has been conferred upon 41 individuals so far.