Could it unleash India’s Female Shakti Power!
Corrupt & incompetent politician - bureaucrat nexus holds back Sports progress
“The best realistic legacy that I can hope for is that the Commonwealth Games of 2010 mark the emergence of India as a power at future big sporting events”- BBC correspondent
The Commonwealth Games (CWG), which opened with the world bracing for the worst, managed to conclude on without undue embarrassment or disaster. Stadiums did not collapse. Terrorists did not strike. Fears of disease went mostly unrealized. And the closing ceremony was a stirring success - Commented New York Times
To many analysts and critics of CWG it correctly demonstrated India’s inability to efficiently deliver, even on a project intended as a show piece to the world. “All the worst elements of the government system have been showcased,” said Mahesh Rangarajan, a political analyst. “Will they learn a lesson? I don’t know,” he added.
A Golden lining-Best ever Haryana led Indian Performance
Athletes from the small state of Haryana contributed 15 out of the 38 gold medals won at the CWG, with India just nipping past England to the second position after Australia. They also won 8 bronze and 4 silver medals. India won in all 101 medals. As a separate participant Haryana would have secured 5th place. Most of Haryana athletes come from lower middle class and poor families from small towns or from rural areas, mostly belonging to the Jind-Sonepat-Bhiwani belt.
Wrestling, football, hockey, volleyball and athletics remain the favorite sports in Haryana but other sports like shooting have been taken up by boys from well off families. After the success in the Beijing Olympics, it appears that boys are now taking to boxing in large numbers, for a national or international medal ensures a job in the police at least as a sub-inspector. Vijender, who won a bronze at Beijing Olympics and later declared top boxer in the world in his weight was promoted to Deputy Superintendent of Police rank. While there was a bitter taste in mouth after his somewhat unfair defeat in the CWG semifinal, he needs to concentrate on boxing rather than modeling in Mumbai amidst voracious man eaters of the entertainment industry. On Bhiwani, India’s Cuba in boxing read Bhiwani: My Small Town in Haryana.
As in most Indian states, in Haryana too jobs are sold, with political elites using even transfers and threats of transfer to milk money from the civil servants. No wonder they in turn do nothing unless bribes are paid. Well, what would you expect when honorable members accept money for raising questions in the Indian Parliament and during the votes of confidence, according to Members themselves, the going rate for transfer of loyalty can be 250 million rupees, a big sum. Political dynasties have amassed thousands of millions of rupees each, even held in foreign currencies abroad.
In a corruption ridden India, where one has to give a bribe of 2 to 5 lakhs to become a policeman, a sports medal in Haryana assuring a job in police (as officer with a gold medal) or other departments, thus provides a great incentive to poor boys with rural back ground who would otherwise end up as semiskilled workers or worse.
Haryana being generally an arid land, boys with hundreds of acres of land used to end up joining as simple soldiers, then their children worked their way up as Junior commissioned officers, regular officers up to Major/Colonel rank and then as generals. The current Chief of the army Gen Vijay Kumar Singh belongs to a small village Bapora near Bhiwani. His father was a colonel and grandfather an NCO. Admiral Sekhavat, a Haryanvi rose to be the Naval Chief a few years ago. There are numerous such examples of Haryanvis rising to the level of generals and equivalent ranks. The author remembers many school mates in Bhiwani, who joined the army as soldiers.
The splitting off Haryana state in 1970 from Punjab, in which it was considered a backward region and received a step motherly treatment, gave a fillip in all sectors specially under its dynamic chief minister Bansi Lal. In this agrarian state there was always emphasis on animal husbandry and most people kept a cow or buffalo (as the author’s family did even in Bhiwani town) .Milk and milk products like butter, ghee aka clarified butter and chhach aka butter milk were a major supplements to a healthy diet in the absence of vegetables in a water scarce state. There was and is too much emphasis on milk products, while to compete at the highest international level one needs a nutritious and balanced diet.
There appears to be some evidence that those whose diet is non-vegetarian tend to become better athletes and sportspersons. Yes in a way, milk is an animal product but not that effective in building muscles for strength, stamina and force. Because of influence of Arya Samaj, Haryanvis were mostly vegetarian and avoided alcoholic drinks. The author took to meat eating only after joining Banaras University for his engineering degree. But now the situation after the prosperity in the wake of the green revolution has changed with alcoholism a serious menace.
It is sickening to watch Indian politicians, some over 70 years with no idea of a sports crowding out all others from the management of sports and sports bodies. Some have headed them for decades with little to show. The politicians and their favorite civil servants or hangers on, use them for self-aggrandizement, patronage and free trips abroad. As politicians do elsewhere in India, many awards and prizes are announced after wars or sports medals, but not disbursed. Before the CWG, the hockey players who reached the final, had to threaten not to participate to get their dues paid.
A few decades ago, many politicians would turn up, a few months before the Olympics in European capitals, say of East Germany, a major sporting force then and request for a coach so that India could win a few medals. If they could they would like reservation of medals based on the caste as in jobs and for education in India. That attitude has not changed much since then. There is just no accountability or even remorse for their colossal failure. India did not even qualify for entry into hockey at Beijing. Fortunately in spite of the mess in hockey federations, India did well to reach the finals of the CWG beating some fancied teams.
Dry and arid Haryana region with plenty of milk made for sturdy lads and lasses, good at wrestling, boxing, volleyball and athletics. Before Haryana was carved out these milk guzzling lads won wrestling titles but Punjab got the credit. And in any case the Haryana talents were not given due recognition or support and encouragement.
Among the successful athletes at CWG there are a large number are Jats, many from small landholding peasantry or lower middle class. The Jats are hardy people supposedly originating from Eurasian lands with some peculiar traditions including evil ones like killer Khaps. But women still have more freedom of movement as they work with the men folk in agricultural fields which the Rajput and other land holding castes do not allow, whose women remain veiled and stay home.
In the authors opinion, the Jats belonged to the same class as the Slavs in Eurasia, the farming communities since the beginning of the human race unlike the chariot and horse riding Indo Europeans including Kshatriyas and later Mongol and Turkish hordes becoming the ruling elites, whose women were not to help in farming, remained at home and even ended up veiled.
Women Athletes Shine
Krishna Poonia, became the first ever Indian woman with her gold winning discus throw. Harwant Kaur and Seema Antil followed her with a silver and bronze, for a stunning 1-2-3 finish for the first time by Indian women in the Games. All three are Jat lasses. Manjeet Kaur, Siny Jose, Ashwini Akkunji and Mandeep Kaur ran the race of their lives to win the gold in the 4x400metre women’s relay. The Indian lasses did not lag behind in contact games. The unassuming Haryana lasses — Geeta, Alka Tomar and Anita in gritty displays won three gold medals in the Greco-Roman section against grapplers from Canada, England and other western nation.
Then of course Saina Nehwal won the Badminton Gold in the last pulsating final to make India pip past England. Earlier, Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa, who were not expected to win the gold, did the unexpected.
The remarkable and unexpectedly excellent performance of India’s women athletes at CWG came as a surprise. In India’s Brahmin ordained caste ridden apartheid like divided society since millennia with little weakening of its hold since 1947 in spite of equality of the sexes guaranteed in the Constitution, women in real life remain relegated after the religious law giving and enforcing Brahmin fraternity, warriors and nominally ruling caste of Kshatriyas/Rajputs, the trading and agriculture community of Vaishyas and even the Dalits (former untouchables and in the countryside, still so.)
A girl child is still given food the last in the family, so with education, with inhuman practices like female feticide, bride burning for dowry. Saina Nehwal of Haryana, India’s best ever badminton star who won the gold medal, confessed how her grandfather was disappointed at the birth of a daughter and not a son and refused to even see her at birth. The honor killings by khaps aka mostly Jat caste councils are still a common practice, especially in the north mentored by the Brahmins, the ultimate arbiters of caste ridden and divided Hindu society. The Khaps want honor killings to be almost legalized. In external affairs ministry for almost half a century pinstriped Brahmins led Khaps destroyed many diplomats lives and careers for wanting to or for marrying foreigners. So the medieval mindset permeates even in the so called modern educated milieu too. This ban was in total violation of India’s Constitution. (Watch this space for more).
A few years ago , the Shankaracharya of Puri declared that women have no right to learn Sanskrit or read Vedas (a Shankaracharyas mostly if not always a Brahmin, is like Ayatollah Khomeini, a jurist –consult in Shia Iran), to maintain Brahmin control over Hindu society by denying education to non-Brahmins and women.
See how the male MPs fiercely oppose reservation of even one third seats for women in the Indian federal parliament. Social science experts studying data in the wake of reservations in Panchayats believe that gender quotas increase self-esteem, confidence and motivation of women and strengthen women’s contacts with their political representatives, increasing their political empowerment. US research also suggests that women legislators are more likely than men to heed the concerns of their constituents and may make legislatures more sympathetic towards disadvantaged groups.
I have gone in some details about the religious, social and economic hurdles placed by India’s obtuse, patriarchal, hierarchical and criminal power wielding elite exercised over women ordained by the Brahmins since millennia to indicate how difficult it is for women to come out of the male shadow to participate and do well in sports and games in India. The examples of male sexual abuse of women by male coaches is hidden like the iceberg. But because of the media attention just before the games many suffering women athletes had the courage to air the bitter reality. With male domination in Indian society there were only some ripples but any exemplary punishment is unlikely, since venal and corrupt and even criminal politicians who rule India are male chauvinist pigs and many exploit their position and indulge in sexual abuse and worse.
Politicians Exploit for Photo-opps
Of course no Indian politician will miss a photo opp and so on 1 November at Sonepat in Haryana its Chief Minister announced incentives for the CWG medal winners from the state to coincide with the 44th anniversary of the formation of Haryana. The creation of a 'Haryana Sportspersons Development Fund' was also announced. His political opponent claimed that the idea to award was his but the incumbent Chief Minister stole it.
The Haryana athletes were honored with cash awards of Rs 15 lakh, 10 lakh and 5 lakh to the gold, silver and bronze medal winners respectively. The government would provide suitable jobs to the medal winners. Amount of Rs 51 lakh, Rs 31 lakh, Rs 21 lakh and Rs 11 lakh will be granted for taking up development works in the villages of the gold, silver, bronze medal winners of CWG. Cash rewards for the upcoming Asian Games have been increased to Rs 25 lakh for gold while the silver and bronze medal winners would get Rs 15 lakh and the Rs 10 lakh respectively. Cash awards of Rs two crore, Rs one crore and Rs 50 lakh will be given to Haryana athletes who win gold, silver and bronze medals respectively in 2012 London Olympics.
New sports academies would be set up at Jind (Kabaddi), Rohtak (athletics), Shahbad (women's hockey), Sirsa (men's hockey), Faridabad (shooting), Sonepat (wrestling) and Panchkula (lawn tennis and badminton). A cricket academy at Jhajjar, boxing academy at Bhiwani, football academy at Gurgaon and basketball academy at Kiloi in Rohtak district are being established. Hundred more rural stadiums will be constructed and new coaches will be appointed there.
Politicians make promises which are not necessarily kept and many a times not fulfilled or disbursing bureaucrats demand their cuts. So let us keep our fingers crossed.
Commonwealth, Asian and Olympics games had become a cold war arena of competition in physical prowess between Capitalism and Communism during the Cold War. It has somewhat cooled off after the collapse of the Soviet Union. However sport persons from Russia and former communist nations are still doing well. China topped the list of gold medal winners in Beijing, displacing USA to second place. Winning a medal still requires national endeavor in which the state, corporate interests and individuals all have to participate jointly.
Doping of Athletes
India’s name was tarnished when the 20km walker Rani Yadav failed the dope test. She had erased her personal best time by four minutes. There have been many such revelations in the past too, involving not only Indian but other athletes too.
Apart from the latest training techniques, supporting gizmos, sports medicine and psychology, doping techniques i.e. administration of drugs to enhance athletic performances have also seeped in. It is an ancient practice from the days of Roman gladiators who used stimulants such as strychnine to pump themselves up for a battle. Doping is done through gene therapy i.e. by inserting genes into a cell which instruct the body to produce large amounts of a hormone, protein, or other natural substance that enhance performance. Dope manufacturers keep a step ahead of means to detect it. Most sports suffer from it including cricket, with players from Pakistan i.e. Shoaib Akhtar and Mohamad Asif and the Australian spinning wizard Shane Warne to name a few.
There are numerous examples of doping in recent history from athletics. Sprinter Marion Jones of USA, who won five Olympic gold medals, used drugs and has been convicted. Boxer Jason Giambi of New York says he turned to steroids beginning in 2001. Ken Caminiti, once an 'Outstanding Player' insisted half the players in baseball shared his steroid weakness. He died at 41 of a cocaine overdose.
Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson, who lowered the old 100-meter mark at the 1988 Olympics, was found using illicit testosterone and banned. But Carl Lewis, his rival and supposedly Mr. Clean and a loud one, had reportedly failed drug tests before the 1988 Olympics (the truth was revealed only after his retirement). And of course the ever popular Diego Maradona from the slums of Argentina - the Pele of the generation- who was expelled from the 1994 World Cup after testing positive for too many drugs to count. Apart from American Tour de France star Lance Armstrong since 1999, Richard Virenque of France, Italy's Marco Pantani (dead) of a drug overdose) and, most recently, Tyler Hamilton of the United States have all tested positive for steroids or blood-enhancing EPO. The list of doping of athletes is long and endless. It is like a cat and mouse game, with athletes and players from advanced nations generally succeeding more often than not.