When someone asks, “Why can’t you (Indians) pursue sports with staggering spirits? Why can’t you be like the Chinese lions in competitions? Why can’t you achieve more than your neighbours?” People respond in many different ways hurling scores of disgruntled ripostes and most of them opine that India is an emerging global power. How sycophants we are! We are desperate in all areas of life including sports. Let India at least be a giant in sports in Asia first. How many brilliant sprinters have been groomed after PT Usha declared her retirement? So murky and disgusting is the scenario that it is beyond our imagination. Women in sports in India seldom get prerequisite coaching and moral support and boost by their families as well as from the government.
They encounter discrimination on a daily basis in every domain in their athletic career. Instead of availing them veracious sports ambience; often they are humiliated and even sexually assaulted by their male counterparts. Deep-rooted deprivation and centuries old alienation of Dalits, Adivasis and women are some of the reasons that push India to a corner. India always wrestles with socio-cultural schizophrenia alienating a large chunk of people and depriving them of their due rights. They face the same treatment even in the sports. It so happens that innumerable brilliant and promising sports personnel emerge from the abyss of socio-cultural and economic alienation but the social cruelty and apathy shatters their hope soon as they march forward. A few months after Mary Kom won a bronze medal for India in the last Olympic, she said, “I would definitely have outshone all others, if I had better ambience and privileges like my counterparts.” This country witnessed to the greatness of hockey legends like Dhyanchand and Jaipal Singh Munda and both were from the suppressed classes. Today how poorly are they remembered?
Vinod Kambli a superb cricketer from Maharashtra when he was inducted into the Indian cricket team; he performed extraordinarily stunning. Later he was scrapped of the team forever it was definitely a well thought conspiracy of BCCI to bulldoze the gusto of children of the lesser gods. Did not this sports man possess the stamina of real sportiveness as others? Did not this cricketer exhibit the spirit of subliminal order in the ground? Certainly he did. No matter how excellent upbringing he or she accesses in the field. It’s absolutely the prerogatives of an individual that mould and shape his or her career.
How many of us remember Limaba Ram another incomparable sportsman (archer) from Rajasthan who took Indian archery to the new heights? In fact, it was this diminutive (as people interpret) tribal boy who shaped and dramatically changed this segment of sport to be of the higher facade. He represented India to scores of international events and brought innumerable medals including gold multiple times lifting the zeitgeists of the nation. It was this tribal boy who penned a new history in the field of archery. But nobody remembers him now; he has been merged in the darkness of history; simply because he was a tribal.
All these talented sport personalities have emerged from the abyss of socio-cultural dehumanization and corrupt inhuman systems that always have crippled them to excel in India. Can the Sports Authority of India and the concerned departments of both state and central government assess the factors of India’s dismal performance in international sport events? Why does China our neighbor outperform us and compete with the US?
These suppressed classes have produced stalwarts like Bichung Bhutia, Dillip Tirkey and Pithu Marandi the legend of Indian hockey and football. What are our lacunae? Do we ever regret when we lose in the international events? Innumerable times we have been humiliated in all kinds of athletics. What was our medal tally in the last Olympic. Where were China and other European Countries? Let the ruling class of India be repentant of its sin. Sports reflect a country’s integration, unity and oneness. Sports need to be above caste, religion and race let the merit class of this country be ashamed of this.
Pitambar Naik is a Hyderabad based poet and advertising copywriter. He can be reached at email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org