Tuesday, August 14, 2012
First a big self-congratulatory note: We bettered ourselves by a fraction in London. Beijing was okay. 2012 has been much, much better. A lot of us have reasons to feel exulted, if not overtly happy. After all two Silver and four Bronze medals from a contingent of 80-plus that gave us the 53rd position in the medals tally isn’t exactly a reason to feel either too good or too bad. Let’s see where we did well. Clearly, in the games where individuals – rather individuality – mattered! It tells us about the character of our society. A few individuals are a freak success. Much of our ado came from girls, who we, as a society, prefer – notwithstanding our self-innuendo with digital prowess – dumping in the garbage bins no sooner they take shape in the wombs. Forget medals, Saina and Mary’s successes far outshine the glitter of gold for the same reason that they are girls in a chauvinist society. Their success has nothing to do with the country; it’s about an individual genius and resilience. The rest of the world won’t understand; you need to be born here for that. How did we fare in team events? Television channels – who play on our big egos – won’t show us that. It will be better if we consign those games to history. Let’s stick to IPL; sip Pepsi (or Coke if you will), sit back and relax. Someone will win an IPL, and the winner will always every time be an Indian. Happy! Let’s stop playing hockey. Even Belguim is stripping us naked in that game that gave us a Dhyanchand! It looks odd to see the Indian blue struggling in an array of other colours on a hockey turf. And no Poonam Pandey will risk stripping for those losing dudes. Thank lord we haven’t yet started with foot-ball. Forget bicycling or decathlon. Or 50 km marathon! It’s all too much of hard work without any commissions. Better stop going to Olympics. Let’s give it a pass; save money and the face. No Olympics, no Kalmadis! In any case we are doing exactly that in our schools – killing the sport all through the KG-to-PG system of education. No play, only rot-learning so that our industries get first class clerks for mass production. A survey in Karnataka last year showed over 50 per cent schools had no play-ground in that state. Safe to presume it fits the country’s state of schools. May be we’ll get a gold for largest number of schools with no playgrounds. We are gifting Aakash tablets to the school-kids (great to see an Indian innovation and business), but bizarre, we won’t think of giving them good playgrounds. Even if we create those, we have more than 50 per cent of our children malnourished! What do we do with malnourished bodies? There’s a problem with the Indian brain; frail bodies probably come later. We allow millions of tons of our food-grain to rot in open yards while those desperate for it may be starving nearby. Among the starving millions may lie our budding talents. Playground problem doesn’t stop at the schools not having them. The only available ones in your town may get trampled by political rallies; now increasingly Annas and Babas also hold their highly-publicised fast-against-corruption, while kids starve for a good ground for a hearty game. India is losing not just a fierce global competition; it’s losing itself – it’s becoming one huge collective of mediocres, who don’t know how to swim, how to laugh, and how to be sporting. One Sushil Kumar; one Saina Nehwal; one Mary Kom – it’s great to have them, but what a pity! A nation of 120 billion has no sporting culture, no hunger to compete or excel on the global stage. When you see a limbless man compete on his artificial legs with the world’s best, you feel ashamed of a country where boundless possibilities are strapped by an array of discriminatory threads, waiting to breathe free. One Gopi Chand sets up an academy out of his sheer obsession to do something for his sport and our world of badminton training ends there. One state of Haryana produces wrestlers and that’s the end of it. The academies or training centres in Delhi won’t bring us medals; India needs to learn to play right from the schooldays, not only for a competitive big stage, but also for harnessing a sporting culture. And she needs to discover sportsmen and athletes in the hinterland. For that she must first discover her hinterland, decentralize power centres, and look beyond the obvious. The Olympian medal winners in other countries came from unusual quarters from those respective countries - some of them scaled the pinnacle of endurance, others were an outcome of meticulous and scientific training, years and years of sheer hard work. Every Olympic leaves one lesson: A sport can't run on privileges. It comes through a sustained culture and search for the unsung and hidden talent. Alas! We are a society where discrimination is a writ and the privileged few are the revered demigods - RIP Talent!