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Monday, 11 August 2008

Congratulations Abhinav!

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.


  1. Very true. Unfortunately, kids are not encouraged to take sports seriously in India, let alone look at it as a potential career. Even at the top schools, which have state of the art facilities, sports are just seen as a time pass. Apparently, it is not 'safe' enough. lol

  2. So true. Such rubbish...
    but more than anything else, I hate the way they're looked down upon... disgusts me, really.

  3. Well said, and well written,
    its the fact every indian swears by, and yet nothing is really happening about it, neither do i picture anything in the times to come, I aint being pessimist but just disgusted the way, our country treats our own Atheletes, and all the others associated wid games other then the Holy Cricket.
    Its time that we on the whole do realise, that where we r progressing to...
    Ooohh who can forget these politicians, wid their parasitic temperaments, basking in all the glories, created by the hard works of these momentary heroes, who again will be long forgotten...i only wish that the country Cherishes, and acknowledges, the existence of citizens like Mr. Bindra.

  4. Thanks :)
    And yes, people like Abhinav are true citizens of this country, working selflessly to take the nation forward.

    I don't mind Cricket getting publicity- I feel that they really do deserve the attention they get- maybe not the exact kind of attention, but they have grabbed public attention. Thing is, public apathy to sports and sports persons in general also extends to most budding cricketers.

    And well... we both agree that politicians are parasites...

  5. it sad but true..we do need to buck up as a nation...but dont blame the country...the large majority is hardly in a position to come out of the struggle for monetary independence to come to terms that something like this can have averse effects..the politicians,u n me are to blame..we talk...but hw many of us actually take action, raise our voice,nt fr publicity but to get the job done?? many?..

  6. Ah well... true enough... but I do want to say that it was these politicians themselves who put up their hands to get the job done, and then came up short- not after they toiled for the country, but because they got sidetracked due to personal gains... so think...

  7. while i was reading this, i felt like i was reading about the philippine government's treatment of its own athletes... so alike, in almost every detail :(

  8. hmmm..certainly not an indian achievement, but taking positives out of negatives here, we atleast have a couple of decent talents here....i hardly hear of one if he doesn't play cricket....

  9. @ Tina: You know, I recently met this girl from your country, Elaine, who was here to attend the same wedding I was at. She was really surprised at all the fuss about Abhinav, and she told me that you haven't yet won an individual gold at the Olympics. She wondered if it will ever happen... Hope so :)

    @ rapidrewind: Hello again, welcom back :)
    I agree with your point, but not wholly. This is because we have had people like Vish Anand, Dhyanchand, Prakash Padukone, Paes and Bhupati, etc. for far longer than, say, an MSD or even Rahul Dravid...
    So what? Their names are just a part of the long traditions of the neglect of Indian sports.
    I don't blame cricket, BTW... I LOVE cricket, but my point is that we have had people from other sports excell and set examples in India.