When you sit and think about what all is wrong with India and our mindset, the question has a potential to leave you mad, without offering any solution.One of them is the one in which I am indulging right now, i.e., posing too many questions. But this time, it’s more confessional in nature than a blame, pointing fingers at self than crying foul.
I will try restricting my focus on one of the behavioral aspects only, with reference to our expectations and indulgence in sporting achievements. There are a host of problems and most of them can be summarized in one short word as lack of sporting culture.
The Indian nation first took part in the modern Olympic Games in 1920. The nation has a dismal record in the Olympics and any other sporting event for that matter, except, the extravaganza called cricket.
The current Indian performance with all the media hype did not produce any gold medal. For the Indian nation considering its size, manpower density and emerging global power, the performance has been ‘pathetic’. But it does not bother me.
What really pains me is our collective behaviour. When an athlete or a sportsperson achieves a place on the podium against all odds, we every time fail to celebrate or recognise our heroes.
Now think of this. We sent a delegation of 117 sportsmen to the Rio Olympics. For the first time, we saw a sent off by the Indian Prime Minister. Great gesture! They returned with two medals. There was widespread media coverage ‘after’ a couple of medals. Virat Kohli, the batting sensation sent a video message on twitter wishing P V Sindhu. They found sponsors too. The God of Indian sports, Sachin Tendulkar later was seen distributing BMW cars to the achievers.
Now, compare that with the Rio Paralympics. We sent a delegation of 19, that’s right… only nineteen!! Strangely, no stars or celebrities, no politicians, showed interest to go with or cheer for them. And our heroes have already bagged 4 medals!! No hype, no media coverage, no sponsors, nothing!
It has been India’s best ever performance in the history of the summer Paralympic games. Devendra Jhajharia broke the World Record to win a gold medal in Javelin throw. Mariyappan Thangavelu won the Gold medal in men’s high jump T-42 category. Deepa Malik is the first Indian woman to win a medal in Paralympic games, won a Silver medal in Shot put throw. Varun Singh Bhati is a Para high jumper who won the won the bronze medal. Who will remember them?
I did not see any video messages from Kohli or anybody and God alone knows where Sachin is? If one tells me that it is something to do with the ‘able’ v/s ‘disabled’, it would be far more painful. Though, I don’t think so. What comes to mind is that even Gods follow glamour and glitz. It’s still not too late. I am willing to see Chief ministers of respective states holding mega-shows to celebrate the heroes, Sachin or Dhoni to distribute them at least a Maruti sponsored by Maruti Suzuki. Will our Govt that arranged a sent off, think of Khel Ratna Awards and cash prizes for these go-getters. I doubt!!
We are a country full of sulkers. We sulk. We question. When it comes to showing even a little bit of courtesy, we are always absconding.
It is also a fact that Indian sporting culture never matured because of our Schooling system, lack of facilities for skill development in sports, nonexistent economic support to sportsmen and most importantly a lack of will.
The modern sports today needs a wide base for selection, high amount of training to master the necessary skill levels, physical fitness, and full-time dedication. For a struggling middle class more involved in upward mobility, education seems the best option as it guarantees success, with least fall out rate. Today’s education is all about percentages, and India favors rote learning which is repeated memorization and sports have no value in the same.
This comes with the lack of realization of the value of sports in character building. The another fact that is so prevalent in India today is, that the word character has gone out of vogue in psychological literature. In a playing field, winning and losing are a part of the game. This gives a sense of character, and the ability to understand the other person’s point of view and accept a verdict for or against.
The nation should win more medals and should be in the respected list of countries is a distant dream. For that, the first change that is required is our sporting culture, our thought process that encourages sportsmen, and celebrates our heroes. Stop failing them and eventually self, every time.
Wake up India! Add your voice, so that those who ought to hear this, will finally wake up from their selfish slumber.