By Vini Bhati
Edited by Madhavi Roy, Senior Editor, The Indian Economist
The sports circle bustled with the displeasure expressed by Saina Nehwal, as she lashed out at the Sports Ministry for not recommending her for the prestigious Padma Bhushan award despite a sparkling show. The prodigious badminton player, who has made India proud numerous times by achieving laurels for our nation, seemed to be deeply offended, evident through the vehement posts on Twitter. She expressed her discomfort over the choice of the Sports Ministry, as Sushil Kumar was chosen for the Padma Bhushan. Saina claimed that this choice was at odds with the policies of the Home Ministry, which clearly stated that there should be a gap of five years between two Padma awards. This criterion made Sushil Kumar ineligible as he had been the recipient of the Padma Shree award in 2011. The Sports Ministry was moved to action after her plea, and her name was forwarded as a “special case”, along with Sushil Kumar’s, for the Padma Bhushan honour.
This incident reinforced the trend of “seizing awards and honours” which seems to govern our sports culture. Sports, in the present time, is not just restricted to an expression of true sportsmanship, but has become an activity which needs to be felicitated by bestowing awards and honours from time to time. In such a scenario, there is a tremendous remoulding of the nature of a “true sportsperson”.
This trend has created a phenomenon of its own, which is chiefly responsible for creating a discord between players and sports associations. There has been a continuous hue and cry over awards as their selection is viewed to be coloured with personal biases.
Be it the case of Sachin Tendulkar chosen over Dhyanchand for the Bharat Ratna on grounds of him belonging to the “most popular sport”, or the bold act of turning down the Arjuna Award in 2011 by Milkha Singh as he called it a “tamasha”, because the nature of award ceremonies and its selection procedures has always been always under question.
But amidst this wave of change, a pertinent question arises:
Are these awards the sole mark of excellence in sports at the present time?
That is why it seems to pave way for a number of sportspersons who are coming out to seek what they believe they “deserve”.
In India, the domain of sports has its own narrative, which is filled with struggles. Instead of focussing on issues which manifests one’s own self-interest, there is an urgent need to raise voices against issues like paucity of resources and inefficient administration, which is hindering the sports management in India in its efforts to create a conducive atmosphere for the blossoming of sheer talent. This is a far more substantial and enabling move which can bring Indian sports teams at par with the rest of the developed nations like China and Australia.
Thus, it’s time to become true sportspersons, embodying the characteristics of a true winner, who “performs” and not “whines” over short lived, and materialistic pursuits.
Vini Bhati is a 2nd year English literature student at Hans Raj College, Delhi University. A passionate theatre artist and debater, she ardently believes in the power of self composed thoughts on paper as it gives her a sense of distinctiveness amidst the crowd and empowers her to think, believe and grow. Her interests range from public speaking, voracious reading and listening to vibrant music .She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org