National Sports Awards 2018-Highs and lows of system

 

This year it has been decided to give national sports awards on Sept.25 instead of giving on National Sports Day i.e.29th August.The decision was made because Asian Games were clashing with National Sports Day.It is indeed insult to our National Sports Day as it is also birth anniversary of hockey legend Dhyan Chand. For the first time since these awards were introduced in 1991-1992,it will be presented to nominated sportspersons at a later date.Ministry on their part looks in a hurry to give these awards as performances in recently concluded Asian Games were given more weightage instead of accounting for the performances of athletes in the last four years which is usual norm.This led to the outburst by star wrestler, Bajrang Punia who was ignored for the prestigious Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award.Selection panel comprising former sportspersons nominated cricketer Virat Kohli and weightlifter Mirabai Chanu for the highest sporting honour.Bajrang on his part was right in clarifying his stance as he had more points than both Kohli and Chanu.Bajrang had won gold medals in both CWG and Asian Games this year apart from winning bronze in 2013 World Championships.He also won more medals in other wrestling events in the past four years. In fact Kohli had zero points despite he being at the top position in two formats of cricket.

Mirabai is currently only Indian athlete to win gold at World Championships. Mirabai had 44 points while Bajrang had 80.Points system introduced a few years ago by Govt.still looks inefficient as cricket is ignored.Performances in Olympics, Asian Games, Commonwealth Games and World Championships form major part of scoring system in recommending these awards.Cricketers are always in limelight in India.The good thing is that so far only deserving stars like Sachin Tendulkar and M S Dhoni have received Khel Ratna.Now Kohli with his form in the last two years has joined elite club.Otherwise Stars in IPL or T-20 with their heroics would have been knocking the doors for awards.However the area of concern in nominations is point system.There must be point system for cricket also like performance in away test or ODI series,centuries,wickets taken in a year,runs scored in the last four years…etc.This will improve ranking system and the burden on selection panel of nominating sportspersons(mainly cricketers) for awards will be less.

Another subject which led to controversy this time was the removal of Archery coach Jiwanjot Singh Teja from Dronacharya award list.His name was earlier recommended for the award only to be excluded later on account of his one year ban by Archery Association of India in 2015 because of indiscipline during World University Games.How can the selectors put his name in the list first and later withdraw after criticism from some external forces.Interstingly,three of Arjuna Award nominees this year have backed Jiwanjot for Dronacharya and requested sports ministry to reconsider its decision.Rohan Boppanna won Arjuna Award this year after being snubbed in the past few years despite good show in tennis. It shows there is no transparency in nominating these awards.
Lastly we are saying don’t give our athletes lavish money and fame after excelling at a younger age. Hima Das was nominated for Arjuna Award this year.No doubt that her performance in 2018 is outstanding.However she is still 18 and many more years are left in her.Why we are putting more pressure on her at such an early stage of her career?Let her enjoy the track events.Every year when these awards are recommended,some controversy stirs up.However in the last four years,with the inclusion of past sportspersons and points system,the process of recommendation has improved drastically considering the expectations from sportspersons. With Indian athletes winning more and more medals in major international events nowadays,it’s natural that they will be eager to get these awards.
SHAILESH PADHYE
SPORTSNASHA