Monday, September 26, 2005

India and Athleticism; A lost dream

The topic was a hot item for every time India fails to make it in International arena. After every Olympics, Football World Cup qualifiers, International Athletic meets etc the International community and the people of India itself keep asking the same question. Why India can’t make it? There have been few answers so far. Some blame it on the system. Few others pointing their fingers towards the politician’s lack of will. But what is the real reason? What could make our athletes and players achieve it? Is there anything that we can do?

First let’s examine some big names in our country. There is always the ‘flying Sikh’ Milkha Singh. Then there is our sprint Queen P.T. Usha. Recently there is Anju Bobby George, Arjun Atwal, Leander Paese, Lt. Col. RajyaWardhan Singh to name a few. But in individual sport, our showing was never equal to the best in world. Our top ranked sportspersons are way down in international rankings. Just to endorse my view, here are some details of India’s individual medal tally In Olympics.

Year Category Medal Name

1952 Wrestling Bronze K.D. Jadav

1996 Lawn Tennis Bronze Leander Paes

2000 Weightlifting Bronze K. Malleswari

2004 Shooting Silver Maj. Rajyawardhan Singh

Total 4 medals!!.

So where are we? As Mr. Steve Sailer (president of the Human Biodiversity Institute and Adjunct Fellow of the Hudson Institute) put it, India is the biggest loser of Sydney Olympics. For a population of 1 billion, we have nothing to show but Silver. Perhaps we are too obsessed with cricket, that we ignored other sports? It's long been theorized that militaristic nations should be best at sports, since sport is fundamentally training for and recreation from fighting and hunting. This correlation, however, has proved hard to test since practically every nation on Earth has a pugnacious history. Ancient nations that didn't like war tended to be put to the sword.

Where does that leave us? May be we, Indians were repeatedly been passive subjects to invaders, are failed collectively to stand up and contest? In the long history of colonization, we can get enough prove that we accepted defeat before standing up and fight. True, there were some exceptions and it is because those people we enjoy our freedom today. But the colonized mindset of our people still force them to believe that if things are from English speaking country, it should be better than ours. It is this believe that made cricket this popular.

Other thing that should be explored is our physique. The average height of an American is 5’9” and they are tallest along with Dutch and Norwegians. World Health organizations studies shows that the average height is a direct indicator to the well-being of the country, i.e. access to Public health care, nutritional food etc. Research has shown that average height is significantly associated with a country's per capita income. And this is directly linked to the infrastructure and facilities a nation can provide for sports. Of all races, Asians are shortest, but Indians are not the shortest in Asia. Japanese qualify for this, but they were way ahead of us in terms of Olympic medals. So not only height influences the performance but the physique as a total is the key. India, burdened by the ever-growing population, can’t afford to spend big bucks on providing infrastructure and new equipment which are a necessity for winning at the top level. We compete on bad turfs, cheap equipments and when it comes to international level, are up against the best in world.

There is no lack of talent here. But most of these young talents are nipped in the bud. Instead of providing best facilities, the authorities discourage the upcoming talents by not doing anything for them. Except cricket, no other sport in India can be a full time profession. There is no money or incentive in it. So now stop lamenting every time we fail to win a medal. Admit that we are not up to it. We couldn’t do it. Physically, mentally, gene-wise we are ill-prepared or not prepared at all. There may be a time when India leads the medal charts. But not in my or your lifetime.

1 comment:

whistlingwoods said...

An interesting argumentative piece. I feel that if one has the will to perform, then other drawbacks fall on the wayside. Moreover, we need to cultivate a sport culture in our country. As long as parents dream that their kids will grow up to be doctors and engineers, sports has no future. Sadly.