New Delhi, Dec 19: India's lone individual Olympic gold medallist Abhinav Bindra was today recommended for Bharat Ratna, the country's highest civilian award, by the National Rifle Association of India.
Three days after the government modified rules to pave way for eligibility of sportspersons for the prestigious award, the NRAI today sent a letter to sports minister Ajay Maken, asking the ministry to consider Bindra for Bharat Ratna though such a recommendation is not necessary for a person to be considered for the prestigious award.
Bindra won gold medal at the 10-metre air rifle event at the Beijing Olympic champion in 2008.
“For outstanding performance of exceptional order in the field of sports and for brining glory to the country, NRAI has the honour to recommend Bindra for the Bharat Ratna as he has the singular distinction of winning the first individual gold medal for India in the 104-year history of Olympic Games,” NRAI secretary-general Baljeet Sethi said in the letter.
“This award will be an encouragement to all Indian sportspersons to give their best and earn glory for the country. It will also be a booster to Bindra to perform better in the 2012 London Olympics,” he said.
Under the modified rules, Bharat Ratna can now be given to any person for performance of highest order in any field of human endeavour, instead of the earlier restriction to the fields of art, literature, science and public services.
Ever since the government made amendments to the award's eligibility criteria, several names have cropped up, including those of cricket icon Sachin Tendulkar and late hockey legend Dhyan Chand.
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.