For me, India at Beijing Olympics is not all about the medals that we managed to get this time. When India is poised to make a record haul in the Olympics,there are other stories that we tend to forget in the ensuing euphoria and one of them is Monika Devi’s.
In every article that is churned out by the press, she is referred to as a medal hope and if something was to happen, it could have been this Olympics. Unfortunately the sports authorities of India never allowed her to participate in the Beijing Olympics, framing false allegations of doping.
Though this controversy has conjured up a vile and vicious regionalistic hue, it is of no wonder that it happened so.
The north-eastern states are a power house in Indian sports except cricket and this very reason makes me admire them. Manipur; a small state among the seven-north eastern states have produced weightlifters, archers and footballers galore.
The Indian system has unfortunately failed to reward them for any of these achievements. There is no good sports infrastructure or good stadiums in north east. The economic backwardness that prevail in these states means, there has been no private or government initiatives to help these sports persons.
And on top, from the mainland if we try to torpedo their spirit by framing false allegations, they feel unwanted and cheated.
What they need is not didactic dissertations by people like L.K.Advani about the strong and vibrant Hindu culture of Manipur but an urgency to create a sense of belonging in them towards India.
These kind of manipulations that our corrupt, lazy politicians and bureaucrats orchestrate will only alienate these states from the Indian system. If India is aspiring to be a force to reckon with in sports, North-east undoubtedly has a integral role to play in it. The U-16 Indian football team has eight players from Lajong FC, a north-eastern football club...that is the kind of influence they have on our sports.
While every news papers goes ga-ga over Abhinav Bindra and the rest who managed to win medals we tend forget the real picture and Monika Devi’s situation is a blow up of that real picture.
Monika Devi is not the only one who is crying foul over the Olympic selections, there has been some archers too, who have questioned the selection procedures and in the past we have heard innumerable allegations against these associations and their working.
The reasons for these omissions are rarely public, the sports associations seems to be some omnipotent organisations that are never wilted by allegations and sadly our law seems to be terribly inadequate to bring them liable for India’s dismal performances every other time.
Going by Indian standards and norms, Monika might have got the boot so as to fit in the family of an association’s chief; China indeed is a “cheap and affordable” shopping destination. All these years officials have outnumbered the participants for any international sporting event. (Not very sure, but as the saying goes...).
All they did is while away time in these foreign countries, do loads of shopping, and return without any medals.
India’s campaign is almost nearing an end in Beijing Olympics and it seems like we will make a record haul of three medals. A befitting achievement for all the shopping done at the expense of all the tax payers money.
Before you plan to applaud or go berserk over these outstanding performances, please remember, we have a population of over 1 billion. It is our duty; not to ride this false wave of euphoria that our media and politicians are trying to push down our throat. There are hundreds of Monika Devi’s around us and these associations should be held accountable for the sheer neglect that has happened in our sports.
There are valiant stories of a bus driver who put in extra hours to gather money for his training and the village boy from Haryana who manged to miss the medal by a whisker. Stories of these genres occupied spaces in the past too. Has anything changed for good? Nothing much.
Before wrapping up, this is not any attempt to discredit the immense fighting spirit shown by these athletes in overcoming the neglect and emerge victorious in the Olympics. These are a few cautionary words to those who are simmering with pride and riding the hoopla.
If we are to excel there should not be any Monika Devis in Indian sport anymore and i am not that optimistic. If time allows, read this article and do some introspection, before going ga-ga over India’s performance.