Union Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju on Saturday announced an enhancement in the prize money in four of the seven categories of the National Sports Awards.
Rijiju made this announcement on the occasion of the 115th birth anniversary of hockey legend Dhyan Chand, which is also celebrated as National Sports Day.
The prize money for the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award has been increased to Rs 25 lakh from the previous amount of Rs 7.5 lakh; Arjuna Award has been enhanced to Rs 15 lakh from Rs 5 lakh; the Dhronacharya (Lifetime) awardees, who were earlier given Rs 5 lakh will now be given Rs 15 lakh as cash prize; while Dhronacharya (Regular) will be given Rs 10 lakh instead of Rs 5 lakh per awardee. Dhyanchand awardees will be given Rs 10 lakh instead of Rs 5 lakh.
Speaking about the decision, Rijiju said, “The prize money for the Sports Awards was last reviewed in 2008. These amounts should be reviewed once every 10 years at least. If professionals in every field have seen an enhancement in their earnings, why not our sportspersons?”
A total of 74 awards are being given in seven categories this year in a virtual ceremony because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The performance of our athletes in the international level has become better. When our players perform better, they have to be recognized and rewarded. If the government doesn’t recognise their achievements, it will discourage every budding sporting talent we have in India,” Rijiju said earlier in the day.
“So, compared to the previous years, the performances of the Indian athletes have gone up considerably and as a result, the number of award winners has also gone up,” he added.
The sports ministry had earlier announced Rani Rampal, Vinesh Phogat, Manika Batra, Rohit Sharma and Mariyappan Thangavelu as five Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna winners and 27 other sportspersons for the Arjuna Award.