Sports in India – The rich and the poor


Sports in India as on April 3 2012

Many times when we discuss sports in India, the often complaint is why is India obstinate about remaining at the tail end in every Olympic games. What is killing the sports and games in India?
Take some time off from gazing on the extravagant TV sports shows and look at the realities on the background scene of many sports and games in India.
Long time ago, while I was in college I came to know that the 1st World Chess Champion Wilhelm (William) Steinitz died of poverty in 1900. I was surprised because I always associated money with sports. About the same time I also came to know why and how the handsome but dark Muhammad Ali threw off his Olympic gold medal into the Ohio river when he was refused access into a white man’s restaurant.
Ever since that day I remained aware that sports has the rich and the poor, the beauty and the ugly all put into it. So I never really got to enjoy the extravagance in games and sport especially the opening ceremony as many things keep running in my mind as others watch the semi naked girls performing on stage with the richest people of the nations watching it all from the front seats.

On April 4, 2012, The Hindu a popular newspaper of Chennai on page 2 under the CITY section, covered the much awaited IPL match with the title “Bollywood opening for Cricket Carnival”. I saw the opening show of the IPL on TV and since I live close to the venue (YMCA grounds, Chennai) I heard the fireworks 2 times and a little later on I saw it on the TV too. Though I had the option, I had no urge to climb up to the terrace and see the fireworks directly.
Ironically, on page 13 on the same date, The Hindu either intentionally or not had a different story to tell. The story of a bright but poverty hit girl Nisha Rani Dutta. The title of the coverage was “Poverty forces former archer to sell bow”. Nisha is not the world champion but she had won the silver at the 2008 South Asian championships. As a college sportsman I know the difficulty of winning a medal at the lowest level.

The real life story reads, “to make ends meet and support her family the former national archer, Nisha Rani Dutta, was forced to sell her silver bow for a measly Rs.50,000. She says “I sold the bow online to a student in Manipur, I sent a picture of my bow and he agreed to buy it. I had to sell it as my family is in poor condition and I tried to help them by providing them with some money says Miss Dutta.
She said “I started archery when I was 13 years old. As I was not a cricketer, it was difficult for me to continue the game and support my poor parents. In 2005, I joined Tata Archery Academy and remained there till 2008. Though I earned a monthly stipend of Rs.500 to Rs.600 it was not sufficient. Yet I managed to save more than half of the money for my family”.
She also said the following, “My father is a farmer, and we do not have much land. It is difficult for him even to buy the seeds for farming. We never had sufficient food for a full meal. To meet the family needs I went to Bangalore in 2008 and I stayed there for a year with Mittal Champions Trust on a contract basis and earned Rs.3000 but now for 2 years I am in Jharkhand doing nothing. So I decided to sell of my silver bow gifted to me by my Korean coach at Mittal Champion Trust.
I do not regret selling it, as I did not have anything else to sell. Admitting that the bow actually cost about Rs.3.5 lakhs Miss Dutta said she had to undersell it as she urgently needs the funds to repair her damaged house.
She had earlier won medals at International competitions including one in the Bangkok Grand Prix. On one side we have cricketers and their managers in India who find it difficult to handle the money they earn and on the other side we have the eager, talented sports interested Indians who give up just because they have neither the money nor the “contacts” to help them get where talent should have taken them to.
If you are really worried about the imbalance in sports in India and also worried about why India is not getting any Olympic medal then please forward this article to many others instead of sending great jokes all the time to your friends. This is no joke. Let us get serious sometimes.


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