Does India deserve Dipa Karmakar and other Olympians?
Dipa Karmakar, Sakshi Malik, Lalita Babar and PV Sindhu are names that will linger on to every Indian's mind for many years to come. With these three ladies now becoming an embodiment of women empowerment and success despite all odds, this phase is like the Independence Day patriotism that is usually very much evident on August 15 but fades away gradually and revives back only until the next independence day arrives.
Nobody, let alone the government, cares about what needs and need not to be done to improvise on the Olympians who may have brought laurels to the nation as the nation, who cares only about medals and laurels fails to felicitate the players in the truest sense of the term. Rewards in the form of cash and kind may be showered upon athletes after their Olympics phase but has our government ever pondered as to why is there a vast difference between India and the US for that matter in terms of medal tally?
It is a shame that India, a nation of 1.2 billion people, second only to China in population, could win only two medals, which is one of its worst performances in recent years. India won six medals at the 2012 Olympics and three in 2008. The obvious reason for such a dismal performance is usually known now- poor diet (more carbs and less proteins) leading to poor physique, bad infrastructure and lack of motivation. Anyhow, what more can we expect from a nation whose eminent personalities like Shobha De tweet- "Goal of team India in Olympics: Rio Jao, selfies lo, Khaali haat wapas aao. What a waste of money and opportunity". Being the famous figure that she is and the impact she could have made through her words, she however chose to de motivate our Olympians who, anyhow gave it back to her.
Talking about infrastructure in India, young gymnast from Tripura, Dipa Karmakar earlier turned down an offer from the Sports Authority of India who offered to give her Rs 30 lakhs as assistance. They also offered to train her anywhere in the world but Dipa politely refused and the only request she had was that SAI provide her with the state of the art infrastructure in the form of vault used by top gymnasts in the world.
In an interview with NDTV recently, she said that while other players start training even 3 or 4 years before the Olympics, she trained only 4 months before the big event as paperwork and unnecessary formalities in India take a lot of time giving rise to uncertainties in the player's mind.
Coming to diet, well, yet again, we may deem it as one of the 'Third-world problems'. With our population being heavily dependent on carbohydrate rich diet, you can't expect to have an Indian Michael Phelps on the scene can you? Everything should be well planned and executed and diet occupies a crucial aspect here.
It should be noted that sports is not about women empowerment or politics or for that matter even media hypes. Its all about one person who is pursuing what she/he does best and who in turn brings laurels to the nation and if the nation fails to harness her/his talent in the best possible manner then the Olympian might as well represent himself and not the nation.
How can India claim Dipa Karmakar's achievement as one of their own when she had to train in makeshift equipment? How can India say that Sakshi Malik has now become a symbol of women empowerment when the society demotivated her and mocked for her decision to become a wrestler. Now that she has a medal, Indians are going ga ga over her. What a hypocritical attitude!
The question to be asked is that do we deserve such athletes? Have we done enough for them to be proud of their achievements?
India is not just about cricket, football or hockey for that matter. Take for instance the case of Meghalaya, which allots only Rs. 75000 for Wushu and Kickboxing, is this amount enough for campaigns, training, diet, tournaments as well as the travel expenses of the players in case they qualify?
This year's Olympics has definitely put focus on what India needs to do now. It may be noted how China trains its gymnasts right from their early ages, the pain and the excruciating schedule is definitely worth it when they get them medals. We are not asking for such an inhuman exercise, all we ask for is more attention to the shining stars in whatever manner possible. No amount of cash rewards and motivation can help a person more than proper attention and motivation before the actual event.
By Shweta Raj Kanwar
(The opinion expressed in this article are the writer's own and TNT-The Northeast Today may not necessarily hold the same views)