Govt changes criteria for Bharat Ratna Award

Amid clamour for Bharat Ratna for Sachin Tendulkar, Government has modified rules to pave way for eligibility of sportspersons for the highest civilian award of the country.  The new rules, providing for eligibility of persons excelling in fields other than art, literature, science and public service for Bharat Ratna, were notified on 16th November, Sports Minister Ajay Maken told reporters in New Delhi. "I wrote a letter to Home Minister on April 15. The Prime Minister and Home Minister have very kindly agreed now to change the norm. "Instead of the fields of art, literature, science and public services, now on November 16, Government has notified that for performance of highest order in any field of human endeavour Bharat Ratna could be awarded," Maken said outside Parliament House. He said the decision has paved the way for any sportsperson to get Bharat Ratna award.
The move comes amid clamour for conferring of Bharat Ratna on Tendulkar for his outstanding contribution to cricket. "For me as a sports minister this is one of the biggest days of Indian sport and next biggest day I think will be the day when any sportsperson is named as an awardee of Bharat Ratna," Maken said. Reacting to a question on conferring of the highest civilian order on Tendulkar and legendary Hockey player Major Dhyan Chand, the Minister said the two names from the sports category that struck in his mind is "the wizard of hockey Major Dhyan Chand and our run machine Sachin Tendulkar." "Both of them I think should be the top contender but there are many other contenders for Bharat Ratna award if it is given to a sportsperson. Ultimately, the decision has to be taken by the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister takes the decision and recommend it to the President," he said. Bharat Ratna was instituted in 1954. Any person without distinction of race, occupation, position or sex is eligible for these awards. The recommendations for Bharat Ratna are made by the Prime Minister himself to the President. No formal recommendations for this are necessary.