Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced on Friday that the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award will now be known as the Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna Award. The Khel Ratna award is the highest honour awarded to sportspersons in India. The Prime Minister said that he had received request from people across the country to name the award after Indian Hockey legend Major Dhyan Chand.
Major Dhyan Chand (29 August 1905 – 3 December 1979) is one of the greatest hockey players. He led India to three consecutive Gold Medals in Hockey in 1928, 1932 and 1936. He was also awarded the Padma Bhushan, the third highest civilian honour, in 1956.
Until now, the award had been named after Rajiv Gandhi, former Prime Minister of the country and the son of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. However, the decision was made keeping in mind the 'sentiments of citizens across India'. Prime Minister Narendra Modi made the announcement on Twitter.
“I have been getting many requests from citizens across India to name the Khel Ratna Award after Major Dhyan Chand. I thank them for their views. Respecting their sentiment, the Khel Ratna Award will hereby be called the Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna Award! Jai Hind!” Prime Minister Modi tweeted.
The Khel Ratna award was first introduced in 1991-1992 and the first recepient of the awards was Chess legend Viswanathan Anand. Other notable recipients of the award include Virat Kohli, Sania Mirza, MS Dhoni and Sachin Tendulkar.
Here's the official announcement: