Sunday, November 22, 2009

Present Scenario

A few days back, I was watching an episode of Yuva Bharat. I really enjoyed listening to the tale of a young Saina Nehwal, an enthusiastic and talented sportsperson who has dominated the arena of Badminton in the past few years. Currently she is ranked sixth in the world and No.1 in our country. She is a good idol for all emerging players interested to make a career in the line of sports. But what fascinated me the most was the problems she highlighted, which a sportsperson generally has to face.

First, we all know, is the ubiquitous and nefarious mentality of majority of the parents. ‘You must become a Doctor or an Engineer. ‘Sports’ is for the poor and stupid guys.’ I believe this attitude is one of the BIGGEST reasons for hindering our country’s growth. Not only is it destroying a child’s creativity and destroying his career, but it is also responsible for the state India is in, currently. A state of malaise. Saina is lucky to get her family’s support, but how many others are? I have seen countless people giving up their passion for sports, just to get an ‘Engineering’ or ‘Masters’ degree, and literally annihilate their life, mostly to fulfill the wish of their parents. Parents don’t understand that a child should be allowed to follow his/her passion. They believe that a child should get a job with a steady supply of income, and that only engineering or a college degree can help the child get a stable job. But if you look at the west, you will see that the popular(and even not-so-popular) sportspersons earn much more than what an engineer will make in his entire life. The reason is simple. In developed countries, people do not consider Sports as a hindrance to one’s life, but as a valuable asset, both in terms of money and fame.

Another thing which Saina spoke about is Specialization. The same old topic comes up, ‘Why does India wins so few medals, and other countries like China and Jamaica win so many?’ Saina explains that the sportspersons outside, are highly specialized in their respective field. For example, a Table Tennis player spends his entire time on Table Tennis and nothing else. You will see very few people pursuing multiple sports/activities simultaneously. But in India, the same old attitude comes and blocks our path. ‘If you are Hell Bent on pursuing Sports, you must get a college degree at the same time. Academics always comes first.’ Can anyone give me a plausible reason as to what help will a college degree do to a person who wants to make an entire career out of sports? The answer which most parents will give is, ‘If he fails in making a mark, he can always get a job to supplement his life.’ See, they are thinking of failure even before the child has actually done anything. They want to play safe, and are simply not willing to let the child take any risk. That way, he has to cope up with both studies and sports and usually does not take either very seriously. He/she also has to take breaks for exams, which impediments his progress in sports.

Anil Kumble may be an exception, but go outside India and try to find out how many Sportspersons are Engineers or doctors? Hardly any. The reason is simple. They have spent their entire life following their passion and given all they had to achieve their goal. This is what I call real education. And not memorizing notes and vomiting in exams and getting Engineering Degrees on paper, as is common amongst Indian students.

Finally, yet another issue addressed (Man, I guess I am becoming a Saina fan) is Sponsorship. In India, sponsorship lags far behind than in the West. Sponsoring companies are just not willing to sponsor new talents or emerging sportspersons who may not be financially well off. But they sponsor a person after he/she has achieved a significant amount of success. We have often seen cases where people do not even have the money to invest in high-quality training or to appoint a talented coach for guiding them. Many of them give up, and this situation is really sad, because the Country is losing valuable talent, mainly due to corruption and nepotism. India is probably the only country where we do not give sufficient recognition to talent. A child who is good in playing table tennis is forced to become an engineer against his will. A cricketer is rejected by the selection committee because he is too poor to give them bribes. A scientist is unable to carry on the research due to lack of high quality equipment (Not that the Government cannot afford it, but rather the money is pilfered by rapacious politicians and other corrupt officials) , leaves the country and gets a Nobel Prize.

The bottom line is that we do not appreciate any Out-of-the-Box thinking. We want to follow the same old inane, repetitive trend of ‘A Job(Money) is All what I want’. This is one of the major reasons that a person who does something unique or different is looked down upon and fulminated instead of being encouraged. No wonder we hardly have any Nobel Prize winners or International Medal/Prize holders.

And even after all this; we keep repeating the same old question, ‘Why doesn’t India win more medals in the Olympics even after having a 1 billion plus population?’ I guess we all know the answer but do little to take pragmatic action.

Anyways, thanks for reading, guys. See ya!


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