The Hero We Chose to Forget
August 29, ring a bell? If you don’t live under a rock, the National Sports Day is celebrated in India every year on that very day. It also marks the birthday of arguably the greatest player to ever grace the game of Hockey – Major Dhyan Chand. Interesting story of how Dhyan Singh became Dhyan “Chand” is that the maestro used to practice Hockey under the moonlight after completing his daily service hours for the Indian Army.
Leading India to three Olympic Golds in 1928, 1932, and 1936, Chand and his younger brother, Roop Singh, had created quite a frenzy with the Germans lining up to catch a glimpse of the duo at the Berlin Olympics in 1936. Adolf Hitler even offered them a position in the German Army, but the brothers were too loyal to their country to fall for an opportunity like that.
But why does the title say “THE HERO WE CHOSE TO FORGET?” What could be the reason for ignoring the legend who single-handedly changed the face of Indian Hockey for years to come? Shouldn’t we question ourselves and the authorities for not recognising the contribution and not conferring him with the achievement he deserves? It is astonishing and ironical, to say the least, that the man who lends his name to the Lifetime Achievement Award in Sports and Games has himself been devoid of India’s highest civilian honour, the Bharat Ratna.
Post amending the rules making sportspersons eligible for the prestigious award, Dhyan Chand was nominated at four different occasions by the Sports Ministry but both UPA and the NDA have paid no heed and their indifferent attitude towards “The Wizard” has caused many fans to express disappointment and resentment for having their demands falling to deaf ears.
Sachin Tendulkar was conferred with the Bharat Ratna just a year after he hung up his boots. This makes me wonder, what more should have Dhyan Chand done to be eligible for the same?
Of course, I do not want to put Sachin vs Chand and debate about their service to the country – that would just be insulting and subverting their lifetime efforts and struggles. But just on the grounds of seniority, shouldn’t the Hockey maestro have deserved to being regarded worthy enough to become the first sportsperson to be conferred with the highest civilian award of the country? Sandeep Singh, ex-Indian Hockey Captain had this to say, “It’s a shame that a person who has done India proud in so many occasions hasn’t been given the highest honour of the country, yet.”
We as countrymen can just hope that the government realizes the efforts the great man has put for the game and the nation and finally recognizes his contributions. Bharat Ratna or no Bharat Ratna, Major Dhyan Chand was, is, and will always be the greatest of all time. And since he is yet to be conferred with the award, whose loss is it actually?