Politicisation of sport has forever been a bane in India. As if it were an ingrained trait in their ilk, the penchant of almost every Indian politico is to either rub shoulders with sports celebrities of every hue or take upon themselves the ‘innate’ job of either making or breaking one’s career. Given this backdrop, one should not be unduly shocked by Saturday’s utterances coming from Union Minister Ramdas Athawale, despite them being illogical and preposterous.
Demanding sports quota for academics and employment is one thing and demanding reservations for SCs and STs in the Indian cricket team quite another. Social justice cannot be achieved with such proposals. After all, sporting excellence is all about merit, a blossoming of talent under the guidance of coaches. A politician or a Minister demanding a probe into alleged match-fixing is understandable but seeking reservations on caste and community basis is taking things a bit too far and rather Quixotic, on the face of it.
Success stories in sports can never be inspired by one’s family tree because they take shape by an individual’s natural flair for the discipline of his choice. That is the hallmark of an egalitarian set up. Even a cursory glance at the list of iconic achievers in cricket and other specialisations throws up an impressive number of athletes from almost all sections of the society. After all, like arts, even sport knows no borders or communities and that is the ground-reality, plain and simple.
When Adolf Hitler proclaimed Aryan supremacy, a black American came up with one of the finest Olympic achievements in Berlin right before the eyes of the German dictator. Lest one forgets, Jesse Owens is not an isolated case. A majority of American legends, global role-models and immortals are blacks, be it baseball, basketball or track and field Olympians. Endowed with tremendous skills, they ruled the world with their exploits and not because they enjoyed any ‘minority’ reservations to make it to their respective national squads.
In India, some of those keeping the country’s flag flying high across the firmament are products of sports schools and exclusive associations. They are trained in accordance with a regimen that puts them on the right track. Many weightlifters from Telangana State and Andhra Pradesh have graduated from such institutions. An exemplary economically-deprived product emerging from such a system is Malavath Poorna, the mountaineer from Nizamabad, who on May 25, 2014, became the youngest girl to scale Mount Everest.
She was merely 13 years and 11 months old when she conquered the world. It is ditto with Sadhanapalli Anand Kumar from Khammam who displayed equally admirable endurance skills while on the ascent. Their grooming has come at the behest of Telangana Social Welfare Residential Educational Institutions Society (TSWREIS). Given the benchmarks that already exist, the Minister’s vote-bank divisive blabber should be taken with a pinch of salt. If there is a reservation of the kind he moots, the dressing room will resemble a house that is on the edge, which is a sure-shot recipe for disaster.