Indian sports administrators, like their political patrons, are masters at hoodwinking every Tom, Dick and Harry who dares them or questions their ‘integrity.’ These ‘passionate gentlemen’
Indian sports administrators, like their political patrons, are masters at hoodwinking every Tom, Dick and Harry who dares them or questions their ‘integrity.’ These ‘passionate gentlemen’ give a damn if in the process the have-nots from the less glamorous disciplines get disenchanted because of blatant partisanship that is only meant to please the rich and famous. If cricketers enjoy superstardom, one need not always blame the sponsor. Many a time it is the national federation of other disciplines that is guilty of open bias that has resulted in discrimination that is sickeningly remorseful.
However, none can be more sordid then the latest incident that has emerged from Ghaziabad. It is inhumanly grotesque because it revolves around the way the differently-abled athletes have been treated by the self-styled sports promoters, notwithstanding the categorical reassurances that they will show no discrimination between the able-bodied and differently-abled athletes. What happens at the ground level is utter disregard for the welfare and well-being of these special children.
Reading about the extent of official apathy towards the differently-abled sportspersons during the 15th National Para-Athletics Championships will send shivers down the spine of a normal person. If unhygienic living conditions, lack of water, stinking toilets and absence of ramps for wheelchairs are loathsome as it is even more barbaric is that the athletes walking on sticks were given accommodation on the second floor.
Given the official apathy towards special athletes, it does not need extraordinary wisdom to conclude that the utterances by the Union Sports Minister, Sarbananda Sonowal, are also meant for public consumption. Why should he seek a report from his secretary and not summon the mandarins running the Paralympic Committee of India? Although, it is the moral duty and primary responsibility of the national federations to look after the well-being of athletes, the same is amiss.
It is so pitiable that even budgetary allocations made for the differently-abled sportspersons is miniscule. One is sure that the so called 24-hour deadline will have no takers because the officials are well-aware of the statements issued by the ministers concerned, who have this penchant to turn a Nelson’s Eye on the morrow.
The athletes who have been left in the lurch should have become aware that nothing concrete is coming their way if one goes by the tirade launched by the organizers who decried that the athletes had gone to the media with the expose. Compare this with the situation prevalent in west where the suspected homicide case against Blade Runner Oscar Pistorius is national news.
In contrast, para-athlete Devendra Jhajharia, who won gold medals in the 2004 Athens Paralympic Games and 2013 IPC World Championships is largely unknown to the administrators. That is the tragedy of these children of a lesser God, who have to bear both physical and mental torture for no fault of theirs.