While India’s Olympic heroes are being felicitated, others are not deemed worthy of even a train seat. Four of the Indian women’s hockey team members had to seat themselves on the train floor during their journey.
This incident comes hot on the heels of the news that Indian Olympians Jitu Rai, Dipa Karmakar, PV Sindhu and Sakshi Malik were set to be conferred with the Khel Ratna awards. The incident highlights the disparity in creature comforts provided to sportspeople in India, before and after they achieve something significant.
While the likes of Sindhu and Sakshi are rightly being felicitated, it is terribly disappointing that national team players were humiliated in this manner. The four athletes were all part of the Indian squad at the recently concluded Olympics.
Deep Grace Ekka, Namita Toppo, Sunita Lakra and Lilima Minz, all from Odisha, were travelling on the Dhanbad-Allepey Express. They had to journey from Ranchi to Rourkela. “We asked the TTE to allot berths to us but he denied. After travelling for about an hour, we got seats,” Sunita Lakra told the Deccan Chronicle on Sunday.
Moreover, the incident took place despite them being railway employees and therefore not requiring any tickets to be booked prior.
“We will draw the attention of the railways about the incident” said Sundargarh sub-collector Himanshu Sekhar Behera. “They should have been provided seats. It is the responsibility of the department to take care of them.”
The nation has been rejoicing in the gesture of national icon, Sachin Tendulkar. Tendulkar has taken the initiative to gift BMW cars to Rio 2016 medallists, PV Sindhu, Sakshi Malik and to Dipa Karmakar, and Sindhu’s coach, P Gopichand. Feting their performance Sachin is quoted “The entire nation is happy at this moment and jumping with joy, there are greater things to come.”
This once again brings to the fore, one of the core matters affecting Indian sports. Olympians are only rewarded and felicitated after their achievements. The core idea of helping them achieve their goals through basic mediums of support is being ignored. Until and unless, such situations are addressed, India will continue to lag behind their more illustrious compatriots.