Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh’s name has been recommended for the Dronacharya Award by the Yoga Federation of India (YFI). His name was forwarded to the sports ministry in April this year for producing ‘World Champion yogis’. YFI president Ashok Kumar Agarwal said Singh is eligible for the awards as his trainees Neelam and Karamdeep won medals at the World and Asian Cups last year.
“His contribution to the sport cannot go unnoticed. He has given birth to several international yoga stars, including world and Asian champions. So, as per ministry’s policy, we recommended his name for the Dronacharya Award last month,” Agarwal told The Indian Express.
His name has also been recommended for the Lifetime Achievement Award, which is given to two coaches, who have produced ‘outstanding sportspersons’ over a period of 20 years. Dr Aditya Insaan, Singh’s spokesperson, said that they have been assisting sportspersons in their Sirsa Institute since 1998.
“The Shah Satnam Ji Foundation-run schools, colleges and institutions have made it to international podium finishes with only Saint Dr Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh Ji Insaan as their mentor and Papa coach,” he said. “Virat Kohli, Shikhar Dhawan, Amit Mishra, Zaheer Khan, Yusuf Pathan, Ashish Nehra, Praveen Kumar, Joginder Sharma and countless national level players have played tournaments here. And all of them were extremely happy to be here.”
The final decision will be taken by the award panel in a few weeks, a sports ministry official said. Yoga was added to the ‘priority sports’ list two years ago. However, the decision was reversed in December last year 2016, after it found it difficult to form a federation and conduct national championships.
Nominations for the award are accepted from ‘National Sports Federations recognised by the Government of India, Indian Olympic Association, Sports Promotion and Control Boards and State/UT Governments.’ “To be eligible for the award, a coach should have produced outstanding achievement over a period of four years immediately preceding the year in which the award is to be given,” read the ministry’s guidelines.
“Our duty was to recommend his name. It is up to the sports ministry to decide whether to give it to him or not,” Agarwal said.