I would have written this article long back after Dipa Karmakar lost the bronze medal by a whisker but that would have been injustice to the both Sakshi Malik & P V Sindhu who won Bronze & Silver Medals respectably and also then this article would have been written by a demotivated Indian who is staring at a medal less Olympics. It was a week when our best failed and I had started thinking what next for this great country with just one sport Cricket to cheer for? Since Abhinav Bindra and London we were expecting a lot from our athletes. They did not deliver but are they the only reason for our dismal show at Rio?
The answer is no. In fact it is not even the fault of our coaches or the government. In a country of 1.25 billion people we have only won a total of 28 medals at the games so far. Now that basically means Michael Phelps = India and even then with the amount of gold he will be ahead of India on the medal tally. The problem lies with our current economic situation and mindset. You must be thinking what has economy to do with sports? Well to prove that you just need to look at the top 10 nations on the medal tally at the recently concluded games.
- Great Britain
- South Korea
Top 10 countries by GDP
8 out of the top 10 counties feature in the top 10 medal tally of Rio Olympics. Brazil is 13 and Canada 20th. India stands at 67th position and lot has to do with my second point of concern mindset. Yes you might argue that some of the countries with lesser economy have done better than India but I am taking of top world economic powerhouses here.
From our childhood exposure to sports has been limited. The fact that I am from the first generation to have even watch an Olympic or equivalent event live on TV. Also if you see none of the other top 9 countries on this list have to undergo an Independence struggle, a economic and social turmoil like India. Even after 70 years of Independence (by all stretch of imagination a young country), people in the country struggle for even the basic necessities of life. Children from very early age start focusing on studies. Parents know that if their kids are strong in studies they still have a good enough chance to succeed in life. This is largely thanks to the economic growth post 1990. But it is still not enough as there is no government support when it comes to basics like healthcare and post retirement life. Most middle class people can barely earn enough to manage a decent life for themselves and their kids as they have to think about post retirement funds and medical costs of old age. We as a country are still in a survival mode and yet to take a definitive flight towards strong and stable economy. So in this situation if our kids want to pursue a career in sports, it is taking a big risk and in case of its failure there is no fall back mechanism.
It is good to see the response Sakshi and Sindhu are getting after their achievements but it is not a solution. The solution for Aditi & Dipa to get a medal at Tokyo, Sakshi to get a Silver and Sindhu to getting a Gold is changing this mentality. The work has to start ground up. First the economy has to be very very strong so that eventually common people are stronger. Governments should focus on providing the basics and not just providing them but to bring them up to global standards. This includes sports facilities. Corporate’s have to focus on sports other than cricket so that we have a stronger domestic sports standards and athletes at all levels are recognized. There should be more sports coverage by TV channels other than cricket. And finally politics should be out of sports. Only then parents will take the risk of allowing there children’s to pursue their dream to win a Olympic medal.
By 2050 India will be one of the top 3 economies of the world. Will it be in the top 10 Olympic medal winner? I sincerely hope it is.