The Arjuna Award, instituted in 1961 as the highest national recognition
of distinguished sportspersons, is given for outstanding performance by
sportspersons. The scope of the award has been enlarged to include such
sportspersons also as have made a life-time contribution in their discipline.
The awardee is presently given a bronze statuette of Arjuna, a scroll of
honour and a cash prize of Rs. 1,50,000/-.
They are given in the month of August, at New Delhi by the President
It is a fact that sportspersons were uncared for in the 1950s and 1960s.
The change has come about during the last decade. Many of them have
indeed carved a niche for themselves in the world of sports. But bulk among
them have regretfully been forgotten. This, I feel, is sad.
This gallery of sportspersons is occupied with glorious personalities; men
and women of concept, character and ambition and also of will-power and
tenacity. The canvas is vast. It unfolds a span of 40 years since the awards
were instituted in 1961.
The deeds of women have been no inferior to achievements of men
although, for many years, women were virtually kept in purdah. Barring a few
dynamic personalities, who are willing to defy, they are still pushed into
background as the country is still governed by its own peculiar and orthodox
systems. But women and also men have achieved incredible results despite
sub-standard facilities. Some of them like P.T. Usha, Shiny Abraham (Wilson),
Karnam Malleswari, Kunja Rani Devi, Gurbachan Singh, Shriram Singh,
Prakash Padukone, Milkha Singh and host of others have done India proud
in their own sphere and discipline.
Sports cannot be all success. There have to be victors and vanquished.
After winning gold medal for eight times in Olympic hockey, Indian team has
been languishing. It is not because of lack of talent and skill but because of
total lack of system. European and some Asian nations have stolen a decisive
march over India, which reigned supreme for decades.
Of about 600 awardees, I have had the privilege of meeting many of
them. Those, whom I have not known well enough, I have watched them
from close quarters time and again. There may however, be some from
certain obscure disciplines, | have not had the opportunity to meet or watch
them perform. To them, I owe an apology, if I have failed to do justice to
them in this book.
The importance of a nation, to my way of thinking, revolves around
health of citizens. Sportspersons portray nation’s worth. The more medals
India wins, the more importance country will gain in the sphere of international
relationship. Sport is now heart and lungs of the nation.
To collect material on one discipline, just as in the case of aquatics, was
difficult. But to collect data on 36 disciplines (about 600 sportspersons), some
obscure, like archery, ball badminton, and kho-kho and the like, was all the
There are bound to be some lapses, errors and commissions, I
therefore, welcome suggestions so that revised editions can be suitably
The book, discipline-wise, has been presented in an alphabetical order
for easy and quick reference. Awardees of the year 2000 have been placed
at the end of this book.
I hope this book will enthral youngsters: as it highlights achievements of
sportspersons from archery to athletics to football to hockey to badminton to
wrestling to tennis and other disciplines.
**Contents and Sample Pages**
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