Vastavam web: India’s top rally driver Gaurav Gill has hit out at the Arjuna awards selection committee after being ignored for the government honour, saying the panel should do its bit to convert a niche sport into a mass sport.Gill, a two-time Asia Pacific Rally (APRC) Champion, argued that if disciplines like golf, carrom and cuesports can be recognised regularly by the government, why not a physically demanding sport like motor racing.No Indian racing or rally driver has been bestowed with an Arjuna award ever. In fact, it was only in 2015 that the Sports Ministry recognized motor racing as a sport by including FMSCI in the list of national sports federations.
However, India’s first Formula One driver Narain Karthikeyan did receive Padma Shri, the country’s fourth highest civilian honour, in 2010.”It is only when the authorities consider racers for Arjuna awards, motorsport will gain popularity and will become a career option for masses. It cannot be the other way around,” said the 35-year-old Delhi-based racer.Cricket too is not an Olympic sport but the players are awarded every year considering the unmatched popularity of the game.”Any cricketer who throws 10 good balls or does well once in a while, is awarded. It is a joke,” said Gill.