Arjuna Award

This article gives you an overview of the Arjuna Award: Who it is named after, when it was established and the latest awardees.

Arjuna Award is the second-highest sporting honour of India. The award is named after Arjuna, one of the heroes of ancient India’s epic Mahabharata. During the Kurukshetra War, Lord Krishna transformed into Arjuna’s charioteer and taught him the sacred knowledge of the Gita. After Rama, Lakshman and Parshurama, Arjuna is considered one of the finest fighters of ancient India. Hindus regard him as an example of perseverance, dedication and focus. Arjuna is considered one of the fiercest warriors in Indian mythology. 

The award, established in 1961, has undergone numerous expansions, evaluations and rationalisations since its inception. In 2002, Dhyan Chand Award was created as a result of the award’s expansion to encompass all recognised disciplines in 1977, as well as the introduction of indigenous games and physically handicapped categories in 1995.

Background of Arjuna Award

The Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports bestows the Arjuna Award each year. The Arjuna award was India’s highest athletic honour prior to the introduction of the Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna in 1991–1992. All government recognised sports organisations – the National Sports Federations, Indian Olympic Association, SAI, Sports Promotion and Control Boards as well as the governments of the states and union territories and the awardees of the previous year are eligible to nominate candidates for the award.

In addition to “excellent achievement in the field of athletics over a period of four years,” awardees are recognised for their “quality leadership, sportsmanship, and sense of discipline” at the international level. A bronze figurine of Arjuna, a certificate, a ceremonial robe, and a cheque of Rs 15 lakh ($20,000) is  given as part of the award. The President of India presents the award to sportspersons in different categories.

Eligibility for the Award

The Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports has laid down the criteria for sportspersons eligible for the Arjuna Award. The ministry constitutes a committee for selecting the recipients of the award. 

To be eligible for the award, the sportsperson should display:

  1. Consistent outstanding performance in international as well as national events for at least four years. 

  2. Qualities of sportsmanship, leadership, and a strong sense of discipline.

Arjuna Award Winners: 2021

In 2021, the following individuals were honoured with the Arjuna Award in hockey:


  1. Vandana Katariya

  2. Rupinder Pal Singh 

  3. Surender Kumar

  4. Monika

  5. Dilpreet Singh

  6. Mandeep Singh 

  7. Shamsher Singh

  8. Lalit Kumar Upadhyay

  9. Amit Rohidas 

  10. Birendra Lakra

  11. Vivek Sagar Prasad 

  12. Gurjant Singh 

  13. Varun Kumar

  14. Simranjeet Singh 

  15. Sumit 

  16. Nilakanta Sharma

  17. Hardik Singh

Other Winners 

  1. Arpinder Singh (athletics)

  2. Vandana Katariya 

  3. Bhavani Sundhararaman (fencing)

  4. Shikhar Dhawan (cricket)

  5. Abhishek Verma (shooting)

  6. Ankita Raina (tennis)

  7. Deepak Punia (wrestling)

  8. Himani Uttam Parab (mallakhamb)

  9. Sandeep Narwal (kabaddi)

  10. Simranjit Kaur (boxing)


  1. Yogesh Kathuniya 

  2. Nishad Kumar 

  3. Praveen Kumar 

  4. Suhas Yathiraj

  5. Singhraj Adhana 

  6. Bhavina Patel 

  7. Harvinder Singh 

  8. Sharad Kumar 

Other Sporting Awards

Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna Award

Initiated in 2002, the award honours sportspersons who participate in major international competitions, such as the Paralympic Games, Olympic Games, Asian Games and the World Championships and World Cup. It is up to the Union Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports to finalise the recommendations of a nine-member committee.

As of 2002, Shahuraj Birajdar, Ashok Diwan and Aparna Ghosh were the first three recipients of the prize. There have been a few occasions (2003, 2012–2013 and 2018–2020) when more than three sportspersons were awarded the honour.


The Arjuna Award is a well-known sporting honour bestowed upon those who have excelled in sports. It is given in various categories in international, national, para-sports and sportspersons who compete in indigenous games and the physically handicapped category. 

The nominees for the award are selected on the basis of the standards set by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, which include good sportsmanship, leadership abilities, discipline, and consistency in performance over a minimum span of four years according to the government’s most recent standards. Those who meet these requirements are eligible to receive the award. The scope of the award has broadened over the past few years.


Frequently asked questions

Get answers to the most common queries related to the SSC Examination Preparation.

Who won the first Arjuna Award?

Answer: In 1961 Arjuna Award was presented to six sportspersons. The first recipient of the Arjuna Award in archery ...Read full

What do the awardees receive?

Answer: Initiated in 1961, Arjuna Award is funded by the Ministry of Youth and Sports and has been running ever since. To award the recipients, a b...Read full

Who is the youngest Arjuna Award winner?

Answer: Surekha is India’s youngest Arjuna Award winner. At the 2021 Archery World Championship in Yankton, USA, A...Read full

Who is eligible to receive the Arjuna Award?

Answer: As India’s second highest sporting accolade, the Arjuna Award is given to sportspersons who have excel...Read full