Thursday, October 28, 2010


And society failed too and women still won!

Amidst all kinds of controversies that marred the recent CWG games, there has been one silver lining. Not only did our sportsmen make us proud by breaking and making new records, but also showcased the hidden talent that India possesses. Our tally of medals was indeed a matter of great pride and celebration, but there has been a bigger surprise. Along with men who won medals, there was a cadre of women who shot to the limelight. Not only did they grab several medals but were also frontrunners in breaking records. If athletes like Krishna Poonia, Harwant Kaur and Seema Antil made Indian sports history experience the first ever 1-2-3 finish in any kind of athletic events, then it was also a woman, Saina Nehwal, who ensured that India ranks second in the total medal tally. Talking objectively, this time the numbers speak volume about their success. Around 34 per cent of all gold medals for India were won by women! Similarly, 40 per cent of total silver and 34 per cent of total bronze came from women athletes’ end.

This is a big news, more because most of these women players hail from small towns and villages of India, where opting for non-conventional profession is still seen as a taboo for women. Not only do they find it impossible to garner family support, but are also under a constant threat of early-age marriage trap. Moreover, these women players, who succeeded to break such confinements and indulge in sports do not receive much support from the establishment as well. It is not just about societal frameworks and taboos that act as predicament and deterrent for such women, other socio-economic aspects also come as a hindrance. From lack of education to lack of medical facilities to lack of every basic opportunities, all of them come in their way as an unprecedented deterrent for success. As a result, it not only slows down the pace of talent growth but also destroys the budding ambitions among girls from small villages and towns. Moreover, practices like female foeticide and emancipation slashes down the birth of such talents, leave aside the idea of these talent flourishing. As a result of selective abortion, between 35 and 40 million girls and women are missing from the Indian population. In some parts of the country, the sex ratio of girls to boys has dropped to less than 800:1,000.

Given all these, the irony is that almost every state that produces women sporting talent also experiences high rates of female foeticide and infanticide and skews the male to female ratio. For instance, the state of Maharashtra produces medal winners like Kavita Raut on one hand, and fails to show remarkable progress in sex ratio on the other hand. Similar is the case with UP. The state which boasts of Alka Tomar (from Sisoli Village, Meerut) fares badly in female literacy rate (42.98 per cent) and sex ratio (898 females per 1000 males). But worst are the states like Punjab and Haryana that produce cadre of best women athletes also top the chart in women degradation variables. If Punjab gave India sports persons like Geeta Rani in 2010, then in the same year, it reported 81 registered cases for female foeticide.

In fact, such harsh realities are not just confined to a few states, but are omnipresent across the nation. These practices not only distort the evolving demographics, but also severely discourage women to come out and become a part of non-conventional career options. For a lot of reasons, CWG could be a black spot for the nation, but it has definitely given us reasons to celebrate womanhood, which has been subjected to blatant all round neglect!


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