The National Sports Day in India is celebrated on 29 August every year on the birth anniversary of hockey legend Major Dhyan Chand. Every year, the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports under Government of India present the sports awards by rewarding and honouring the top-performing athletes from all the sports.
The awards will be presented by the President of India in a ceremony at the Rashtrapati Bhawan in New Delhi.
Chand was born on 29 August 1905 in Allahabad now officially known as Prayagraj. Known for exceptional dribbling skills and goal-scoring abilities, Chand helped India win three Olympic gold medals in 1928, 1932 and 1936 Games. Due to his sporting prowess, he earned the nickname 'The Wizard' and 'The Magician', and according to his autobiography, he scored 570 goals in 185 matches.
Chand started playing hockey for the British India Army after being enlisted in the 1st Brahmans regiment as a sepoy. He initially made his name by playing in various army tournaments.
When India made debut in field hockey in 1928 Games, Chand was selected into the team despite his regiment not sanctioning the leaves. However, he lived up to his reputation by smashing as many as 14 goals in a mere five matches.
After 34 years of service in the army, Chand retired from the Indian Army on 29 August 1956. The Government of India conferred him the Padma Bhushan, India's third-highest civilian honour and later in 2002, renamed the National Stadium in Delhi to Dhyan Chand National Stadium.
On National Sports Day, the ministry presents four awards – Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award, Dronacharya Award, Arjuna Award, Dhyan Chand Award.
The Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award is the highest sporting honour of the country. The award is named after Rajiv Gandhi, who was former Prime Minister of India. The award comprises a medallion, a certificate, and a cash prize of Rs 7.5 lakh.
The awardees are selected by a committee constituted by the sports ministry and they honoured for their "spectacular and most outstanding performance in the field of sports over a period of four years" at the international level. Usually, it is given to only one athlete every year, but under exceptional circumstances, the award can be given to two athletes.
The first Khel Ratna award was conferred to India's chess legend Viswanathan Anand in 1991.
Arjuna Award is India's second-highest sporting award and the oldest having been instituted in 1961. The award carries a cash prize of Rs 5 lakh, a bronze statue of Arjuna and a scroll.
The award is given for athletes, including para-athletes, for performing consistently for over three years and to those who also show qualities of leadership, sportsmanship and a sense of discipline.
The Dronacharya Award is officially known as Dronacharya Award for Outstanding Coaches in Sports and Games. The award is named after Dronacharya, a teacher or guru from Sanskrit epic Mahabharata. The awards were started in 1985 and the first recipients were Bhalachandra Bhaskar Bhagwat (Wrestling), Om Prakash Bhardwaj (Boxing), and OM Nambiar (Athletics). Generally, not more than five coaches are taken into consideration for the award in a year.
There are two categories in the Dronacharya Award – the regular one and the lifetime category.
There is also the Dhyan Chand Award which is given for the lifetime achievement in sports. The award comprises a statuette, a certificate, ceremonial dress, and a cash prize of Rs 5 lakh. It is also given to individuals or organisations who have played a key role in the development of sports.
Apart from the above, the sports ministry also gives away Rashtriya Khel Protsahan Puraskar, for the private and public corporate organisation for their contribution in the field of sports.
Updated Date: Aug 29, 2019 09:26:54 IST