Mohali: The Centre's decision to modify the eligibility criteria for the country's highest civilian award ‘Bharat Ratna’ which was earlier conferred only to persons excelling in the fields of art, literature, science and public service now can be given to one who performs at  the highest order in any field of human endeavour.

The decision to make people from all-the fields eligible for Bharat Ratna brought happiness among the sportspersons.

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.

The number of annual award is restricted to a maximum of three in a particular year. On conferment of the award, the recipient receives a certificate signed by the President and a medallion.

In the field of sports, the two names which are front-runner for the ‘Bharat Ratna’ are the God of cricket - Sachin Tendulkar and legendary Hockey player Major Dhyan Chand.

According to the Director of Punjab Sports Department and former Olympian Pragat Singh, the step taken by the Central government is commendable.

He said, “Bharat Ratna in the field of sports should first be given to Major Dhyan Chand because he took Indian hockey to pinnacle at a time when there were only limited facilities available.”

“In the current scenario, Sachin Tendulkar is the most appropriate person for the award,” he added.

Famous industrialist and President of Gurudwara Talmel Committee in Mohali, Hardyal Singh thinks that with the inclusion of sports as a category in the Bharat Ratna, players will now play in their respective sports with high sprit. This will help in the growth of sports and players achieve fame at the international level.

According to the famous event organiser and performer Satinder Satti, the step taken by the government is commendable. She said “Bharat Ratna should be given to Sachin Tendulkar and Major Dhyan Chand.”

She also opined that those who have excelled in the field of music and have made it popular across the borders, like Lata Mangeshkar, Mohammad Rafi, Punjabi singers Gurdas Maan, late Narinder Biba, Prakash Kaur and Surainder Kaur are also eligible for this prestigious award.

Along with Satinder Satti famous singer Baljit Kaur Mohali also appreciated the government’s decision and supported the likes of Sachin and Major Dhyan Chand for India's highest civilian honour. She also advocated that world famous Punjabi singer Gurdas Maan should also be conferred with Bharat Ratna for his services to Punjabi singing.

Veteran athlete and Captain (Retd) GS Sidhu also welcomed government’s decision and said Tendulkar in cricket and late Major Dhyan Chand in Hockey should be given Bharat Ratna for their contribution in the field of sports.