India's U-19 cricketing star Unmukt Chand today got a hero's welcome at his St. Stephens college by his peers and teachers, on a day the Delhi Government announced Rs 25 lakh cash reward and ONGC made a job offer to him.
The young cricketer, who had last week won a five-month old bitter battle with his college after it decided to bar him due to low attendance, was cheered as he returned to the campus days after leading the U-19 team to an emphatic win against defending champions Australia.
Unmukt has now been admitted to the second year of the prestigious Delhi University college and will write his first-year exams in the forthcoming semester after high-level intervention by HRD Minister Kapil Sibal and Sports Minister Ajay Maken and the media attention his case received.
The U-19 captain was felicitated by college Principal Valson Thampu at an event today which saw students turning out in large numbers.
He was presented with the traditional college tie and a memento in the presence of Thampu, Vice Principal Clement Rajkumar and other teachers.
After the felicitation, a visibly moved and elated Unmukt said he was happy that the college recognised his skills and called him personally and felicitated.
"Being associated with the college is something good for me...Feels really good to be a Stephanian," he said.
Unmukt met the Principal at his home yesterday for an hour, before returning to the college today for the ceremony.
"He has taken admission already and will resume college now," said Sushant Chakravorty, Director of Physical Education at the college.
There was more good news waiting for Unmukt from outside his college with Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit announcing a Rs 25 lakh award for his achievement.
The Delhi Assembly also adopted a resolution congratulating the 19-year-old, whose unbeaten century in the finals helped India defeat Australians.
Not to be left behind, state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corp, which has on its pay-roll batsman Virat Kohli and left-hander batsman Gautam Gambhir, offered a job to Unmukt.
"We have today felicitated the star cricketer and have decided to make a job offer," ONGC Chairman and Managing Director Sudhir Vasudeva said here.
"We will give him Rs 25 lakh as an appreciation for making all of us proud. He is a very talented cricketer and I am sure he will become one of the top cricketers like that of Sachin Tendulkar and other greats," Dikshit said in the House.
As Unmukt returned to the college, Principal Thampu said it was obvious that academic burden on international sports people will have to be reduced.
"How do you expect sports people to train for 5 hours to 10 hours a day and also perform exactly like anybody else? So, there has to be a differential treatment, he said.
"Self belief, effective communication amongst squad-members, and controlled aggression were the three motivating factors that energized and inspired me and my team-mates before the team flew to Australia, Unmukt said.
The cricketer, who has a busy schedule in the coming weeks, said he will attend a training camp at the NCA, Bangalore after which he will fly to New Zealand to represent the India-A squad following which he will travel to South Africa.
The Principal, who had all through the controversy maintained that the rules he was imposing were of the University and that he had no control over them, used the opportunity to make a case for a new course to be designed for students who are admitted through sports quota which would help them dedicate themselves to sports.
"I hope that Unmukt would one day represent the college cricket team which would be a privilege for the institution," Thampu said.
Vice Principal Clement Rajkumar also said that Unmukt’s case presents a new opportunity to review the sports quota policies.