Sudden Love for Olympic Players Among Politicians: Gratitude or Propaganda?
The success stories of Olympic players have a common thread — struggle, and the government was never concerned.
Video Producers: Shadab Moizee, Mayank Chawla
Camera: Shiv Kumar Maurya
Video Editors: Abhishek Sharma, Ashutosh Bhardwaj
When Indian players won medals at the Tokyo Olympics 2020, the love for sports reignited within the politicians’ hearts. While some gave crores of rupees, others released videos of telephonic conversations with the players.
It seems that our politicians are very serious about sports. But once we know the life stories of these players, we will be forced to ask Janab Aise Kaise?
Struggles of Victorious Olympic Athletes
The Haryana government announced an award of Rs 6 crore to Olympic gold medallist Neeraj Chopra, whose father could not afford to buy him a javelin during his early days. There was a time when Neeraj did not have a coach for months. He would train watching videos on YouTube.
Silver medallist Ravi Kumar Dahiya was assured a sum of Rs 4 crore. During his initial days of struggle, Dahiya’s father would travel 40 kilometers from his village to Chhatrasal Stadium to deliver milk and fruits to Ravi every day.
Meerabai Chanu, for whom a reward of Rs 2 crore was announced used to carry wood on the mountains. Another medalist, boxer Lovlina Borgohain with whom the Assam CM, Himanta Biswa Sarma, was proud to have the poster installed, does not even have a gym installed in her village.
Hockey player Vandana Katariya would practice with a tree branch during her childhood while Neha Goyal, another player from the team, worked in a factory.
Their success stories share a common thread — struggle. The government was never concerned with their preparations. Those basking on the medals today have never seen how facilities were unavailable to the players preparing at the grass-root level in the country.
So, are the speeches by ministers an act of acknowledgement, course correction or publicity?
Situation at Ground Level
Apart from the rewards announced by the government, the reality of players who have represented India is a story of neglect. Look at these examples:
#1. Ritu, a national-level boxer, is a parking ticket collector in Chandigarh.
#2. Naresh Tumda, winner of the Blind Cricket World Cup works as a labourer.
#3. Sunita, a strength lifting medalist from Rohtak works as a domestic worker.
#4. Sanjana Bagdi, a national-level wrestler, works in a sugarcane field.
#5. With five international football appearances, Jharkhand’s Asha Kumar works on a farm.
#6. Jharkhand’s Sangeeta, a junior international footballer, works at a brick kiln.
How long does this list have to be? If hockey player Vandana Katariya would have got the hockey stick on time, Mirabai's precious time would not have been wasted in carrying wood or her teammate, Neha Goyal, did not have to work at a factory, would the country have to be content with just seven medals at the Tokyo Olympics?
If these basic questions remain unanswered behind speeches by the politicians and their congratulatory celebrations, then we will ask again, Janab Aise Kaise ?
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