The Arjuna Award was instituted in 1961 as the highest national recognition for outstanding performance in Sports and Games in the Olympics, Asian Games, Commonwealth Games, World Cup, World Championship disciplines and Cricket. However, controversy over selection has dogged the awards ever since its inception in 1961. As per the revised scheme from April 2002, the objective of Arjuna Awards is to recognize outstanding performance of sports persons, at international level only.
The winners will be decided by a Selection Committee comprising of a Chairperson, who is a sports person of eminence and 12 other members distinguished in the field of sports including 5 Olympians and 4 Arjuna Awardees from different disciplines, 2 Sports Administrators and a Member-Secretary of the Committee who would be the Director/Deputy Secretary (Sports) from the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports. The Chairperson of the Committee in consultation with the Member-Secretary may constitute panels from among its members to assist the Committee in choosing the winners. Under the scheme, the awardee is given a bronze statuette of Arjuna, a scroll and a cash prize of 3 lakh rupees along with a monogram, a blazer and a tie.
Only international level performance of sportspersons will be taken into account when deciding the awardees. Sports persons found positive for use of drugs banned by the International Olympic Committee in any laboratory accredited by International Olympic Committee will not be eligible for the Arjuna Awards. The maximum number of awards given in a year would be 15, one award in each discipline. However, in the year succeeding Asian Games and Commonwealth Games an exception could be made for a second award being given to a sports person in those disciplines in which more than 5 medals have been won in the Asian/Commonwealth Games.
The nominations for the award will be invited by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports from all recognized National Sports Federations recognized by the Government of India, Indian Olympic Association (IOA) and State/UT Governments in the month of January each year. As per the revised scheme, the last date for the receipt of nominations will be 31st May of the same year.