New Delhi: To ensure that no deserving candidate misses out on the Arjuna award, the sports ministry is planning to revise the criteria for selection, which would allow un-nominated athletes to be considered for the honour.
It has been learnt from reliable sources that Sports Minister Vijay Goel has already started discussions on changing the selection criteria.
“See, the credentials of the selection committee have never been questioned and transparency is also there. Eminent people are always part of the committee but we have to revise the scheme from next year,” a Sports Ministry official, privy to the development told PTI.
“Soon, new guidelines will be put in place and even those who have not applied or have not been nominated by their respective Federations, will be considered if they have performed well and are deserving,” added the official.
Asked if it was being done to avoid a fiasco like the one involving tennis player Rohan Bopanna, who has been consistently ignored despite good performance, the official said the exercise is meant to revamp an old system.
“It’s not about any individual. The system needs an upgradation, so it can be considered suo moto by the committee.”
The new criteria will allow every selection committee member to consider deserving athletes, who have not been nominated. On the advise of that member, the panel will be able to evaluate whether the athlete can be selected for the honour.
Bopanna, who won the French Open mixed doubles title in June, missed out on the award since his nomination reached the ministry only after the deadline of April 28 had passed.
The committee did not consider Bopanna’s case and chose Saketh Myneni, who won a gold and a silver at the 2014 Incheon Asian Games.
Recently, when Mithali Raj became the highest run-getter in women’s cricket history, there was a clamour for a Khel Ratna for her. However, since she was not nominated, the committee did not consider her case.
It has also been learnt that one of the committee members, before the selection panel meeting on August 3, had inquired if Mithali’s name would also be discussed. The member was told that it cannot be done since she was not nominated either by the BCCI or any other organisation.
Ever since the selection panel recommended names for this year’s Awards, the selection criteria has been a subject of fierce debate in the sporting fraternity.
As per the current system, athletes are awarded points on the basis of their performances in the World Cup/World Championship, Asian Games, Commonwealth Games, Asian Championships and Commonwealth Championships.
However, certain athletes, such as those who pursue motorsport, cannot be considered since the sport does not figure in any of the mentioned championships.
It will be interesting to see if the ministry also considers revising the system to award points.