It was in the month of December last year when 61-year-old Tarak Kumar Parkar, a retired Madhya Pradesh policeman started a padayatra (journey on foot) from Khargone in Madhya Pradesh to the capital of New Delhi. Holding the tri-colour firmly in his hands, Parkar's motive to walk this great distance was to demand Bharat Ratna, the highest civilian honour in the country, for the hockey wizard Major Dhyan Chand.
On 13th February, Parkar reached his destination traversing a distance of 1,250 km and paid homage to the hockey legend. Throughout his journey he tried to mobilise public opinion in favour of his sporting idol.
Parkar believes Dhyan Chand, who remains the greatest player to have played the game and won for India, in 1928, 1932 and 1936, three Olympic gold medals, should not be denied Bharat Ratna now that it had also been awarded to another sports icon Sachin Tendulkar.
The 61-year-old said while the country was doing better in sports now it still lagged behind in the international arena because players didn't get the respect they deserved.
The government should not have taken so long to confer the honour on Major Dhyan Chand, he said.
Parkar had been planning the walk since 2010. Once he started his journey, he covered a distance of 50-60 km on foot every day. The journey took him through Indore, Guna, Shivpuri, Dhyan Chand’s hometown of Jhansi, Gwalior, Agra and Mathura before concluding at the National Stadium in Delhi.
The sexagenarian runs an NGO called Yuva Shakti that works to keep youngsters away from drugs and encourages them to get involved in sports. During a work tour in 1978, he met Dhyan Chand in Jhansi.