Enough talk about India being a BRIC economy. Enough talk of all the corruption, poverty and Bollywood. Enough talk about cricket and Sachin Tendulkar’s ridiculous new hairstyle. Let’s talk about sprinting, sailing, gymnastics, swimming and, my favourite, field hockey. Before I launch into a tirade, consider three things;
1) How many Indians can you name who professionally represent the country in the sports I mentioned above, barring cricket?
2) India, as reported by the World Bank, has a population 1,241,491,960. To the numerically inept, that’s roughly 1.2 billion people.
3) London 2012 has been India’s most successful showing at the Olympics with 4 medals.
Do I still need to launch into a tirade about India’s continuously dismal showing at the Olympics? I was armed with a slew of statistics pertaining to medal hauls of other BRIC economies during the Olympics but I’ll simply state that every single one of those nations has better statistics than India.
But why should I point out our shortcomings? The Indian media seems to do it everyday. Let’s have a look at the solutions.
1) Where has our national pride gone? Men line up to enlist in the army. Men walk across cities just to be able to display their skills in front of greedy, unfit scouts in order to one day share a dressing room with members of the Indian cricketing team. So where has our national pride gone in terms of field hockey? A sport India’s won 8 gold, 1 silver and 2 bronze in. Why can we not find, from 1.2 billion people, a few world class sprinters, a few world class archers, a few world class boxers, wrestlers, weightlifters, gymnasts and… hockey players? The solution begins by instilling national pride. Make our athletes noticeable everyday. Not just once every 4 years or until the time for board exams comes around.
2) People say, we have the talent but not the facilities and infrastructure to train them and support them. Why not? We can raise the money for it. Let’s just ask politicians to stop being so corrupt. But then the response from the general public is; “If you can raise money for sports, why not raise money for alleviating poverty?” Actually, by raising money for one, you are inadvertently raising money for the other. Allow me to explain why. A large percentage of our nation lives in poverty, which suggests that there is a large pool of untapped talent waiting to be discovered. How can they be discovered? Once they are discovered, what difference does it make? They’re still poor unless they win.
3) India loves game shows, music competitions and off late we’ve taken a liking to reality TV. So why
Can Maruti sponsor “India’s Got Olympians?”
not make a TV show out of it; “Where are India’s Olympians?” That way, the country can watch and become educated, revenue can be generated to satisfy the gluttonous capitalists, tax from the revenue can be used to fund our athletes. Moreover, attention can be drawn to the far out cities and economic development can ensue, which would lead to educational and infrastructural and, before you know it, sporting and political development. “A Mobile in every hand” increases the reach of corporate giants to advertise these T.V shows and to integrate the community and organise flailing systems.
4) “Even if the cities get some money and attention, the athletes will still remain poor unless they win and the likelihood of them winning is minimal considering they don’t get sufficient training.” Where are the Ambani’s, Tata’s, Bollywood superstar’s, steel magnates and other corporate giants. Where the hell is Vijay Mallya? India has 48 US dollar billionaires and we can’t find a couple of million dollars in funding for our athletes? Startling that we can’t find national pride. Our cricketers and soldiers have access to living and housing and contractual agreements that provide them with a salary and a level of financial stability. Why not extend that to other Athletes?
5) There seems to see a lack of sufficient training space within large, booming cities. Let’s move outside these cities and go to cities were we can set up training facilities that will also employ poverty stricken people, but will also lead to gentrification and substantial development in these isolated regions.
Forget China, Russia Brazil and then U.K, USA, Germany and France. If a country like Serbia or Kazakhstan or Jamaica can win gold medals, why can’t a talent rich country like India? Progress is being made. 3 medals in 2008 has become 4 medals in 2009 but a lot more needs to be done.
I admit we have problems, but we also have the ability to overcome, to persevere, to soar to new heights and… to win. Chak De India! anyone?
This image for our Olympians one day?