I was sipping my morning coffee with my newspaper at my canteen when I came across the cacophony of utensils and my glance diverted across the surrounding place and then gradually towards the TV screen which displayed in bold letters “PLAY FOR COUNTRY, BEG FOR REWARDS”. Was a catchy line which made me ruminate my mind on this topic which I’m writing.
Year 2014, India’s young guns have proved their immense talent by bagging 64 medals (15gold, 30silver, 19 bronze) to triumph India to a high stand in the Glasgow Commonwealth Games. This has been marked as the third top medal tallies of India in CWG. Thanks to the many few sedulous athletes who performed their best with their peers. Many new and invigorating names came out like Kashyap Parupalli, Ashwini Ponnappa, Mandeep Jangra, Arpinder Singh, Pinki Jangra, Kalpana Thoudam and many more attributed fame to the tricolour. Thanks to the repercussions of the rigorous training sessions conducted by the Indian coaches and the Indian government who acted as an enabling unit.
India though developing stage by stage in different realms of sports for performing its best hasn’t yet proved its word when it comes to the provision of grants for the medal winners. The semblance of such issues has been taken frivolously by the State Government and it has always been adjourned the grants by some vague reason. Many such examples of athletes have been addressed through media but most of them in vain.
Saina Nehwal, Indian badminton star was pretty much disappointed when she didn’t receive the grants as promised by the CM of Andhra Pradesh, on the contrary Sania Mirza received Rs. 1 crore on becoming the brand ambassador of the Telangana for training and coaching tennis, by the CM of Telangana. An amassing re-tweets on Saina Nehwal’s tweet regarding her grant just turned the heat on.
Many others who haughtily responded to the comment passed by Maria Sharapova, stating she didn’t know who Sachin Tendulkar was ; highly taken as controversial by the Indian cricket acolytes tweeted in reprimand to such a comment and flung some implausible jokes on her. But really we as a nation hardly know anything about some quality athletes who inspite of proving their best still live fighting for their daily bread under penury. And nobody is really cared to shed some light on them and give them what they actually deserved. Some references and some peoples’ case studies has helped me to gather some information about some players who actually are living examples of this gruesome issue.
Sita Sahu, from Madhya Pradesh, a two time bronze medalist in Athens Special Olympics, 2011, sells golgappas and chaats. She expounds her lugubrious situation by asserting that the state failed to grant her Rs. 25000 for her bronze medal which the State promised. Unable to feed her family with milk and fruits she describes her tribulation by coercing on the point that she cannot recollect when she had the complete meal.
Shanti Devi, 40 year old, former Kabaddi player from Bihar, who represented Bihar in 32 National Kabaddi Championships and who bagged bronze in All India Women National Kabaddi Championship and silver in Guwahati National Kabaddi League sells vegetables in Jamshedpur for feeding her children. She has literally kept away her medals and has not encouraged her children to participate in sports because of the frustration she has incurred, as she points saying that the income they earn is insufficient for sending her children to school.
Nauri Mundu, 33, a former hockey player, threw the dream of being a hockey player who she became acclimated to the grave truth that it wasn’t enough to feed her family. A best hockey player award presented by former CM of Bihar , Lalu Prasad Yadav in 1995, a bronze medal in Nehru Girls Hockey Tournament and National Women’s Games, a silver in 43rd National Senior Games Championship and !5th Bihar State Hockey Women’s Championship . “I would have continued if I had been helped by the government much like it does with cricket players” was the heavy words of a stoic Nauri.
Nisha Dutt, 21 year old archer, from Jharkhand, a best archer award in Taiwan, best player award in Sikkim, a silver In South Asian Championship, 2008, a bronze in Bangkok Grand Prix,2008, earned a monthly stipend from Rs.500 – Rs 3000 which was insufficient for her father to buy seeds; who was a farmer by vocation. She even remembers how she was forced to sell her precious priced possession Korean bow and arrow costing around Rs. 4 lakh for just Rs. 50000 for maintenance of their worn out mud house. Now Nisha Dutt is working with PNB with a salary of Rs. 11000.
Well India is surely called a golden bird, a super power by a few decades and many such high claims by the government but if India keeps on being reluctant by giving such false hopes and turn out to be flippant about the provision of grants to the deserving Indian athletes then India would surely lose a growing talent and that too in a complex and diverse field like sports where survival is truly applicable for the fittest.