The Indian Olympic Medal Dream

Humans have a very peculiar habit of jumping into two things – Beds and Conclusions. Although this post has nothing to do with the former tendency but the latter is quite flustering specially when it comes from sane earthlings.

Every Olympic ends up brimming the hopes of all the Indians to the hilt. Funnily it reminds me of the poor Indian farmers during the British Raj ( wait..I think they still exist) who used to look at the skies for a few godsend drops of water for their lands. We look at our troop of soldiers(read players) with beseeching eyes in a similar way. We want them to bring Gold medals. Each one of them. Even if they don’t match the skyrocketing world standards of sports or even if they have been battered and bruised by the red tape. We still need the proverbial medal. And God forbid, if they fail ( which they do without failing), we tear them apart like hungry vultures.

What chafes me to no ends is the illogical comparisons with US of A and China. USA has a total of more than 2400 medals till date while India has not even mustered half a century even though India has 17% of the Earth’s population to its disposal.

Can there be a more vague and obscure argument? Can we get anymore foolishly funny?

Why Can’t we face it?

India is a developing nation. According to a 2008 estimation, the Indian population stands at a staggering 1,132,446,000. Out of that 27.5% of the population is living below poverty line. The adult literacy rate is 61.3%. India has the highest rate of malnutrition among children under the age of three as compared to the other countries ( It was 46% in 2007). According to the NSSO survey in 2000, 10% of the population at that time( around 106 million people) were unemployed. A 2007 report by the state-run National Commission for Enterprises in the Unorganised Sector (NCEUS) found that 65% of Indians, or 750 million people, lived on less than 20 rupees per day.

A developing nation has many burning issues to resolve before it can think of accumulating medals in an international sports event and compete with developed nations. In a developing nation like India, people still worry about their next meal and think twice before dishing out the next 10 Rupees note. India is not all about towns and cities. A huge percentage(72.22%) of Indian population lives in villages. Most of the people there won’t even know what Olympics is.

India has many hurdles to cross, to at least provide the population with a decent lifestyle. When a person does not have to worry about his family’s next meal, then he can think of an Olympic medal. And, yes, there is another side of the coin too.

The Indian Mentality towards a sports culture

If we consider an average middle class Indian family, how many of us have the courage to encourage our children into sports? We all have a certain mentality that life as a sportsman would be nothing else but a life wasted. And are we wrong? The government does not provide any sort of infrastructure to encourage sports. If you go and see the conditions of Government schools in India, you will be shocked by the condition of some of them. It would be a miracle if children find proper classrooms, leave aside a playground with all the facilities. Even in an average Public School, you can’t even dream of a swimming pool and horse riding facilities.

Even after jumping over all these barriers(whether it may be because of parent’s inclination or the child’s stubbornness), if someone is able to meet up to the international standards, the red tape kills the talent. All of us have heard of innumerable stories of sportsmen dying in penury and not receiving any help from government agencies despite their contribution towards sports. Which parents would allow their children to jump into such a profession?

With all due respect to Abhinav Bindra’s talent, he had a family support system behind him which provided him ample facilities and encouragement to excel in his chosen sport. I wonder what would have happened to him if he would have belonged to a middle class family with a pressure of becoming an Engineer on his head?

And then we compare our sportsmen with those belonging to nations where sports is a profession as common and successful as Medicine or Engineering, where children get all the facilities from the very beginning and they are groomed in the line of their interest from the inception of that interest. How fair is that?

Only a rocket can take you to the Moon

According to this very interesting report, India is not able to perform in the Olympics due to Low Social mobility. If the people of a nation are better informed, they perform better. It also cites an example of a rich nation which started performing well after the radio connectivity grew.

So, essentially, if we want to reach the moon, we have to build a rocket. If we want loads of medals, we need to put loads of efforts into other areas too.

  • The government needs to provide facilities and encouragement to upcoming sportsmen.
  • We have to encourage our children to choose a sport of their liking and excel in that.
  • Children have to be provided facilities from the elementary levels.
  • Sports should be a proper subject and not just a filler in-between other subjects.

As the nation will develop, the awareness will grow automatically. There are examples of many nations about how to go for it. We have a sports ministry. Don’t we?

Lets not look at the reflection of the moon in the water and cry for it. Lets make a rocket. And if we can’t then lets just shut up.

Related Interesting Reads

Here are a few links which I found very interesting and would like to share –

More than two sides to this coin by Pr3rna

Priorities by Ish

Thinking about Abhinav Bindra not just India’s gold medal by Nita

Chennai Super Kings vs Delhi Daredevils : The Stadium Effect

It has been quite a while since Amit has seen a cricket match from the “toss” to the “man of the match”. IPL tried to reinstate the dying flame of his interests and has been moderately successful. So, when the prospect of watching a live match in a stadium presented itself, he was as dauntless as a newborn peeing on his father’s pants.

And so it was settled. He was to witness the Indian Premier League(IPL) match between Chennai Super Kings and Delhi Daredevils to be battled at Chidambaram Stadium, Chennai on 2 May 2008. The tickets were promptly bought well in advance and he marched into the stadium with his friends on the appointed day. This was the first time Amit was about to witness a match in the Stadium.

Nothing could have prepared him for the euphoria he witnessed there. The stadium was chok-a-block with fans waiting for the stars of the show to appear. Indian flags(?!?), colourful posters, fluttering fans/tickets and a wave of over excited crowd were the first visual imbroglio available. The only calm thing in the whole stadium was the pitch, as if preparing itself to be stomped. As Dhoni, Captain of the Chennai Super Kings, won the toss and chose to bat, the excitement of the crowd reached another crescendo. Amit had never heard such blood curling screams before but he was gulping in all the excitement and was as excited as everyone else, but in a much more subdued way.

As the CSK started to bat, Stephen Flemming was lost too soon and Parthiv Patel followed him in a jiffy. Vidyut and Dhoni somehow tried to steady the score and CSK ended their innings with 169/6 in 20 overs. As if the score was not depressing enough, as soon as the Delhi Daredevils started their innings, Sehwag went completely out of control. By the time Sehwag got out at 71, the damage was already done. Still, till the end the CSKs were treading a very thin line and there was a ray of hope for them as long as they were not allowing the Daredevils to take 4s and 6s. It was a very close call and Amit was biting his nails. But the final damage was done in the second last over and the Delhi Daredevils won by 8 wickets with 6 balls remaining. The crowd was not much sad and they cheered Sehwag as much as Dhoni. And yes, the histrionics of Billy Bowden were definitely not worth a miss.

Some points which Amit noticed :

  • Watching a cricket match in a Stadium is entirely different from watching it on television. If the weather is good, going to a stadium is a very good option. Of course, there won’t be those colourful analysis/graphics screens showing the ball positions and the shots, but then what the heck!!!
  • The Cheerleaders were fully( 😦 ) covered in yellow outfits and still people were gloating over them.
  • There was a huge net in front of the seats and Amit was not able to understand its necessity. It was only after the match ended and people started throwing water bottles towards the ground, that the purpose of the net came to light.
  • The cricket stadium is not as big as it appears in the television. In fact its quite small and even if you are sitting at the last row, you can very easily follow the ball.
  • Watching all those cricketers in 3D, whom you are so much used to watch in 2D can be quite a dizzying experience. Your mind might refuse to believe that they are actually there. Its like watching your favourite actor standing in front of you. You will definitely pinch yourself.
  • The experience can surely be repeated in a better weather condition and with a more expensive ticket.
  • Amit had lost another point in the PFHOI contest being hosted on Ish’s Dead End. 😦
  • Amit has written a post on cricket. He could not have imagined this in his wildest fantasies. 😉

Thats it for the day, ladeej and genteelmen.

(The photographs have been taken by me by my Moto rokr Z6 and are not to be used for any commercial purpose)