No matter what the title may read, this is not a congratulatory post... Don't be mistaken, I'm ecstatic that Abhinav Bindra won his Gold, but I've already congratulated, and thanked him personally on his blog. I suggest you do the same.
When I first planned this post, it was a congratulatory one, but somewhere along the line, the truth sunk in- the medal wasn't really an Indian achievement, since India didn't really have too much to do with it. Thankfully. See, Abhinav spent personal and sponsor money, Rs. 10 Crore's worth of it from the talk one gets to hear, but the Nation State of India didn't spend anything on him, as such...
Excellence in this country happens in the absence of the State. You insert the State into any equation, and you'll find that it just doesn't balance any more. Abhinav doesn't owe any of his present or past successes to bodies like the Indian Olympic Association (IOA), who will now of course come forward to take credit. Did you hear of how they gave this athlete a size 7 pair of shoes, when he actually wears a size 9? It's this kind of apathy, and frankly, a lack of any willingness, or even interest to do their jobs on the part of government bodies that earn this country the tag of being sluggish. Of course, there's also internal politics... heard of Monica Devi recently? Our weightlifter who was denied a chance to play the Games due to 'doping', when all her later samples were clear? There you go...
But it's not just that. Of course we know that our government and it's agencies are made up of a bunch of incompetent fools, nothing new there... but I also don't think that we deserve this medal as a country, as a people.
In India we want the medal, but we don't care about the sport. We are not prepared to work for ten, fifteen, twenty years for it. Sportsmen are looked down upon, in general, here, and if a few happen to do well, we assume it's luck- not toil. We are not prepared to see them as equals. The general mentality is that they are doing this because they either could not do anything else, like get marks for example, or that their parents have an undue amount of money, so they don't have to work. Did we remember wrestler Khashaba DEadasaheb Jhadav? He gave India her first ever individual Olympic medal in the 1952 Helsinki Games. Bronze. How many of us had heard of him before Abhinav's Gold? Oh, by the way... he died in abject poverty, forgotten by his countrymen, and struggling to survive. Tragic, yes? We're such hypocrites.
So therefore I feel that any awards won by sportsmen or athletes of Indian nationality belong to them, their support staff, and their sponsors, but certainly not to their country of birth.
My first reaction to this particular medal was of ecstasy... of elation. My next was celebration. Then came this slightly demented phase when I was smiling as if I'd just won it. Next was gratitude. Gratitude to Abhinav for giving me that moment. Gratitude for the fact that he'd even want to acknowledge our country. Finally, it's now a mixture of all these, and something else- something that's alarmingly like resignation.
We might win some more medals at the Beijing Games. We may win a few more in the games yet to happen, but one thing is for sure- this country has done nothing to deserve those accolades.