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India, Olympics and Bindra

August 15, 2008

It had been quite some time that Bindra stood on that podium and with a characteristic pokerfaced reaction lifted his hands to greet the crowd. Speaks volumes of his mental framework.Speaks volumes of his strength.

And then, started the media trumpeting.

Bindra ends the 108 year old wait

Thus shouted one of the leading newspapers. And I am sure there were many such soundbites. But one thing which is apparently being missed in all these celebrations is the hard truth of life.

Abhinav suddenly seems to bag the coveted retirement plan which everybody wishes. Today MNCs will pay to have Abhinav be the person whom he knows the best. Himself.

Literally overnight, Bindra has been glorified,celebrated and thought over. MNCs are running behind Brand Abhinav and State Governments are doling out appreciatory gifts of mind boggling amounts.

Till now with one estimate, he has bagged around a couple of crores of ‘gifts’ [so called Mayawati speak] and I am sure there are more to follow.

But, the crux of this post is not to chronicle the growth of Brand Bindra in an otherwise cricket sedated nation. The point is, who is Abhinav Bindra and what does he look out of these recent developments?

Abhinav Bindra was fortunate his parents supported him in his pursuit, not only psychologically but also financially. [His father is the founder and head of a 300 crore Chandigarh based business group Hitech Industries with interests in agriculture, pet food processing,IT, drugs and pharma and cattle genetics].Abhinav himself is no less. He founded Abhinav Futuristics which handles import and distribution of German made Walther Rifles. [Talk about him doing what he passionately loves!]

So in the back of all this, I really don’t think those couple of crores riding on his back makes much of a difference to him.

There is yet another dark flow of logic, which we are not yet looking at. Perhaps when all these hoopla and celebration goes out, we may spend some time introspecting.Abhinav is doing what he loves- Shooting. And lets take the bitter pill, its not a cheap game. It needs infrastructure, it needs training, lots of it. Needs medical help, physio-psycological help and what not. In fact which game doesn’t?

Requires bullets,guns, shooting arenas and a system which supports. Abhinav was fortunate that he got all those because his parents supported him financially,morally and in everyway possible. And hence today those investments have paid off. But, the question is why only Abhinav Bindra. Around a week has passed, yet not a single more athlete has bagged a medal.And hence, India as a nation really doesnt deserve  to claim it was India’s victory.

It was not India’s victory. It was not a nation’s victory. It was not the system’s victory. If ever there is a victory in this, then it is the Bindra family’s victory. Government, never ever supported him in his pursuits. Why only him, lets talk about the talent lying waste in our country. We dont have a consolidated Olympic effort here. In fact shuttle players till the other day were struggling becuase there were no shuttle cocks out there. And to think that this country deserves a win?

At least Bindra got opportunities. What about people who never saw a running track ,let alone run on them? What about kids who would love to play football but the only thing they have is despair. What about the kid who is an ace archer in his village but doesnt think he can do what he loves. Its our responsibility to hone this people. We say, why doesn’t India win a single gold medal in a nation of a billion people. The reason is this. We don’t believe in giving opportunities. Though we believe in flooding the poor soul with offers and ‘gifts’ after he returns successfully.

Its very easy to dole out money and put a band aid on a wound.But for tomorrow’s need we have to sit up and look.

Lets see, if India wakes up to its new responsibilites.

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