The award selection committee announced and sent names to the Sports Ministry for the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna and Arjuna awards on August 03, 2017 .Two-time Paralympic gold medallist Devendra Jhajharia is the first paralympian to be recommended for the country’s highest sporting honour — the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award — along with former hockey captain Sardar Singh. The 36-year-old Jhajharia, who is the first Indian to win two Paralympic gold medals, was the first choice of the awards selection committee headed by Justice (Retd) C K Thakkar. Jhajharia won his medals in the javelin throw event. The committee has also picked 31-year-old midfielder Sardar as its second nominee for the top honour and suggested that both Jhajharia and Sardar be considered for the award jointly.
The awards selection committee has also recommended 17 names for the Arjuna award. The list includes cricketer men’s team Test regular Cheteshwar Pujara, women’s team World Cup star Harmanpreet Kaur, Paralympic medallists Mariyappan Thangavelu and Varun Bhati, golfer SSP Chawrasia and hockey player S V Sunil.
About Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award
The Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna, officially known as Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award in Sports and Games,is the highest sporting honour of the Republic of India. The award is named after Rajiv Gandhi, former Prime Minister of Indiawho served the office from 1984 to 1989. It is awarded annually by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports. The recipient(s) is/are selected by a committee constituted by the Ministry and is honoured for their “spectacular and most outstanding performance in the field of sports over a period of four years” at international level. As of 2016, the award comprises a medallion, a certificate, and a cash prize of Rs. 7.5 lakh.
Instituted in 1991–92, the award was given for the performance by a sportsperson in a year. Based on the suggestions provided by 2014 award selection committee, the Ministry revised the criteria in February 2015 to consider the performance over a period of four years. The nominations for a given year are accepted till 30 April or last working day of April with not more than two sportspersons nominated for each sports discipline. A twelve-member committee evaluates the performances of a sportsperson at various International events like Olympic Games, Paralympic Games, Asian Games, and Commonwealth Games. The committee later submits their recommendations to the Union Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports for further approval.
The first recipient of the award was Chess Grandmaster Viswanathan Anand, who was honoured for the performance in the year 1991–92. In 2001, sport shooter Abhinav Bindra, then aged 18, became the youngest recipient of the award. Usually conferred upon only one sportsperson in a year, a few exceptions have been made (1993–94, 2002, 2009, 2012, and 2016) when multiple recipients were awarded in a year.
As of 2016, there have been thirty-two recipients from fourteen sport disciplines: Athletics, Badminton, Billiards, Boxing, Chess, Cricket, Fieldhockey, Gymnastics, Sh-ooting, Snooker, Tennis, Wrestling, Weightlifting, and Yacht racing. The most recent recipients of the award are the badminton player P. V. Sindhu, gymnast Dipa Karmakar, sports shooter Jitu Rai, and wrestler Sakshi Malik.
About Arjuna Awards
The Arjuna Awards are given by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, government of India to recognize outstanding achievement in National sports. Instituted in 1961, the award carries a cash prize of ₹ 500,000, a bronze statue of Arjuna and a scroll.
Over the years the scope of the award has been expanded and a large number of sports persons who belonged to the pre-Arjuna Award era were also included in the list. Further, the number of disciplines for which the award is given was increased to include indigenous games and the physically handicapped category.
The Government has recently revised the scheme for the Arjuna Award. As per the revised guidelines, to be eligible for the Award, a sportsperson should not only have had good performance consistently for the previous four 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.
From the year 2001, the award is given only in disciplines falling under the following categories:
- Olympic Games / Asian Games / Commonwealth Games / World Cup / World Championship Disciplines and Cricket
- Indigenous Games
- Sports for the Physically Challenged
In 2011 Commonwealth games as well as Asian Games were included in Arjuna Award.