The National Sports Awards are meant to be a recognition of the sporting achievements as also an inspiration for the awardees to do better and for others to achieve similar standards.
India has mainly 3 such awards:
Arjuna Award: To be eligible for the Award, a sportsperson should not only have had good performance consistently for the previous three years at the international level with excellence for the year for which the Award is recommended, but should also have shown qualities of leadership, sportsmanship and a sense of discipline.
Khel Ratna: Is given as award for the most spectacular and outstanding performance in the field of sports by an individual sportsperson or a team in a given year.
Special Awards for International medal winners: Cash Awards ranging from Rs. 30,000/- to Rs. 50,00,000/- are given for winning medals in the Olympic, World cup/World Championships, Asian and Commonwealth Games/Championships.
Though Indian government has certainly moved ahead in the direction of making these awards more transparent in terms of selection process, further corrections/additions in policies will be prudent in making the system better.
Here are a few things that needs thinking:
1. What happens to a world record breaking/equalling (in certain sports it can only be equalled as its already at 100%) in an recognised sport. It is obviously a very high performance and not just limited to a particular competition. Would this not be what these awards are meant to do, promote world class performance?
2. Khel Ratna award says "the most spectacular performance" -- for making an event/performance spectacular or not spectacular the MEDIA might play a major role. Spectacular is what is spectacular to the people of the country and thus it also matters on how it is presented. Can we define spectacular? Can we place a policy that can look beyond the hype, on just the sheer magnitude of the performance? What must be included to make the performance spectacular --sex, religion, region, economic background, being differently abled, level of competition, etc.?
3. The Cash Awards -- The Olympic Games are amateur sports (no money as prize) but it would be foolish to even contemplate that the sportspersons are anything but the top professionals in their sport. The competition demands such a commitment and given the years of training involved, its a welcome move by the Indian Government to include Cash Awards for certain competitions but (again BUT, but this is all in the hope to improve the system) a few things worth thinking about:
(a) Again the WORLD RECORDS are not part of the performance to be rewarded.
(b) The State Governments (who incidentally have 'Sports' on the State list of Subjects) have different views and policies on the awards. Most States do not find a sporting achievement worth recognizing unless the elections are around the corner. And if they are, then they can easily out award the Centre. Some States having awarded once actually complain if the sportsperson happens to win the event again (once is enough for them). Should a sporting achievement not be a feather in the cap of the State. Should the State not at the least equal the Award to the Central Government (which actually is not responsible for Sports, Constitutionally that is). Whenever the Sports Ministers of India meet, they might like to consider this issue.
We, as citizens are increasingly participating in how our country is faring both nationally and internationally. Sports, with its enormous benefits has helped communities, children, people of all hues worldwide, fare better. It has helped nations spread their culture, reflect their might to the rest of the world in a manner thats appreciated. India has enormous talent but who would take to this profession and be the iconic ambassadors of this country to the World unless we Indians push for greater recognition of SPORTS IN INDIA.
For more on Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, please visit his blog: http://chillyrathore.blogspot.com/