I have no hope of Bharat Ratna for Dhyan Chand now: Ashok Kumar

Dhyan Chand's son Ashok Kumar feels his father should have been first sportsman to get India's highest civilian award

Mumbai: Hockey legend Major Dhyan Chand's son Ashok Kumar's application to the sports ministry to consider his father's candidature for the country's highest civilian honour had been approved long before Sachin Tendulkar was even discussed as a candidate for the prestigious Bharat Ratna.

Ashok Kumar
Ashok Kumar 

Yesterday, moments after Tendulkar received the award from President of India, Pranab Mukherjee at the plush Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi, a few hundred miles away in Bhopal's modest South TT Nagar, Kumar gave up all hope of his father being posthumously considered for the same recognition.

"There's no point now. There is no hope of my father getting the Bharat Ratna. Even if he had to get it, he should have been the first sportsman to get it. He is in no way second to any sportsman in India," roared Kumar over the phone, as he poured his heart out to MiD DAY.

"My father helped India reign in the world of hockey at a time when the country was still bound by slavery. India were hockey Olympic champions six times on the trot between 1928 and 1956 and thrice therein (Amsterdam 1928, Los Angeles 1932 and Berlin 1936) my father was the architect of this glory.

Members of the 1936 Indian Olympic hockey team
Members of the 1936 Indian Olympic hockey team

Yet, the current government continues to undermine his achievements. I am very angry and sad today," said Kumar, a four-time hockey World Cupper himself, who scored the all-important winner in the final against Pakistan in Malaysia (1975) to clinch what remains India's only World Cup title till date.

The 63-year-old double Olympian further stressed on the embarrassment he and his family have had to endure as they kept knocking on the government's door pleading for Dhyan Chand to be honoured with the Bharat Ratna.

"There have been dharnas, morchas and even a hunger strike recently to urge the government to consider Babuji for the Bharat Ratna, but it has evoked no response from the authorities. I wonder what else my family, friends and well-wishers of hockey will have to go through next if we are to push further for the award.

Hockey legend Dhyan Chand during the 1930s
Hockey legend Dhyan Chand during the 1930s

I think there is no point pushing for it any more," added Kumar, who is even more agitated since his application for the award was approved by Union sports minister Jitendra Singh and even recommended last year.

"When the government last year changed the nomination criteria for Bharat Ratna to include sportspersons, we were told to apply to the Sports Ministry, which we did. Then, in July, sports minister Jitendra Singh acceded to our request and forwarded the application to the PMO (Prime Minister's Office) and said that he expected his recommendation to be accepted and that Babuji should get the award because no other candidate from the sports fraternity was in the fray.

The matter was even discussed in Parliament, but to no avail. Then in November, suddenly Sachin Tendulkar's name cropped up and within a couple of months, he received the award. I have nothing against Tendulkar and his achievements, but this does not make Babuji's achievements any less. My father is India's first sports hero and will remain that even if the government refuses to recognise him as a Bharat Ratna," Kumar signed off.

Dhyan Chand's achievements as per CV submitted to govt by Ashok Kumar...

> 1928 Amsterdam Olympics – gold medal – 14 goals
1928 Amsterdam Olympics hockey final – 3 goals
1932 Los Angeles Olympics – gold medal – 12 goals
1936 Berlin Olympics – gold medal – 13 goals
1936 Berlin Olympics hockey final – 3 goals

International matches
1926 Australia-NZ tour – 201 goals in 43 matches
1927 London Folkstone Festival tour – 36 goals in 10 matches
1936 World Tour – 59 goals

  • Preethi Menon05-Feb-2014

    People in India never have recognized true heroes, they only wake up when other Countries recognize their achievements. Coming from modest family Ashok Kumar had to plead to Government to get Bharat Ratna for his father who has truly given name, fame for the Country . Truly Sad.. hope people will come forward and raise this issue

  • Avnit05-Feb-2014

    With all due respect to Dhyanchandji, Sachin deserved it. Dhyanchandji should have got it too, but I don't think it's the end of the world. Just because Sachin got it first among the sports people doesn't make the contribution of the others any less important. Wish they gave it to Dhyanchanji too along with Sachin!

  • Kishore05-Feb-2014

    Shame, shame, utter shame. Politicians are the filthiest class. Bharat Ratna should not be the ruling party's call to decide or for that matter any political party because then vote bank politics take over completely. Sachin getting the award so soon after retirement is entirely due to the congress calculation of getting the Marathi votes in the upcoming general elections. Dhyan chand has no such value for congress and hence lost out.

  • Rauf05-Feb-2014

    It's not only sports for the award there is a lot of politics too. I firmly agree that this decorated sportsman of India should have been honoured but then this is India. .....

  • DeZZ05-Feb-2014

    What a shame that this legend was not considered for the Bharat Ratna. He truly deserves the title legend. The sports minister is high on weed I guess.

  • Asghar Khan06-Feb-2014

    Frankly ,its a sad day for as Indians have forgotten their heritage because it was "HOCKEY" that put India on the World Sports Map and from a personal experience of travelling on train to Osaka , Japan in 1982 , as most travellers do I was in conversation with a very knowledgeable Japanese student who asked me if I was Indian and immediately said " India is very strong in hockey " . Not once was cricket mentioned .

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