What’s the story?
The central government of India has announced that former captain of the Indian team Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Olympic bronze medallist Sakshi Malik, Olympic silver medallist shuttler PV Sindhu, national badminton coach Pullela Gopichand, and Paralympian Deepa Malik among others will be honoured with the Padma awards on the day before Republic Day.
In case you didn’t know...
The Padma awards were first instituted in 1954 in a bid to recognise distinguished and exceptional achievements in all fields including art, literature, medicine, social work, sports, science, civil service, public affairs, and others.
There are three categories of the award – Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan and Padma Shri, in decreasing order of importance. All individuals without distinction of position, occupation, race or sex are eligible for these awards.
The heart of the matter
In 2016, PV Sindhu became India’s first ever woman to win an Olympic silver medal. At the Rio Olympics, she narrowly lost in the final to Spain’s Carolina Marin, who was the world number one. Earlier in 2015, she received the Padma Shri, India’s fourth-highest civilian honour, and thus became the youngest ever recipient.
Pullela Gopichand, who runs the Gopichand Badminton Academy in Hyderabad, is a very successful badminton coach. He is the coach of Sindhu and Saina Nehwal, among others. Previously, he had been honoured with the Arjuna Award in 1999, the Dronacharya Award in 2009 and even the Padma Bhushan in 2014, which is the third highest civilian award.
MS Dhoni, who recently stepped down as the limited overs captain of the national team, has also been nominated. Previously, he was honoured with the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award in 2007 and the Padma Shri in 2009.
Sakshi Malik, who won the bronze medal at the Rio Olympics in wrestling, and Deepa Malik, who became the first Indian woman to win a medal in the Paralympic Games, when she won a silver medal at the Rio Paralympics in shot put, have also been named in the list of awardees.
Sindhu is now preparing for the Syed Modi Grand Prix starting in Lucknow today, while Dhoni is set to play his first T20I match after stepping down from limited-overs captaincy. Both Sakshi Malika and Deepa Malik have already started preparation for the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo in 2020.
The Indian government has, in the past, honoured many important sportspersons with such prestigious awards. It is very heart-warming to see the trend continuing. The awards will no doubt spur the athletes to strive for greatness and bring many more laurels to the country.