The Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna (RGKR) is India’s highest honour given for achievement in sports. The words "Khel Ratna" literally mean "sports gem" in Hindi. The award is named after the late Rajiv Gandhi, former Prime Minister of India. It carries a medal, a scroll of honour and a substantial cash component. Up to 2004–05, the cash component was Rs. 500,000/- (c.11,500 USD).The money has been increased from Rs. 500,000 to Rs. 750,000.
The award was instituted in the year 1991–92 to supply the lack of a supreme national accolade in the field of sports. Predating the RGKR are the Arjuna awards that have always been given to outstanding sportspersons in each of many sporting disciplines every year. The Khel Ratna was devised to be an overarching honour, conferred for outstanding sporting performance, whether by an individual or a team, across all sporting disciplines in a given year.