In 2012 Olympics when Indian men won more medals – four as compared to two – than women, we talked about how men had outshined women and how can women’s performance be improved. A similar discussion had happened after the 2008 Olympics during which India has won 3 medals, all of which went to men and in 2004 when Rajyavardhan Rather had won the solitary medal for India. It’s important to highlight that during all these Olympics, women were not mocked at, and rightly so, much in contrast to the recently concluded 2016 Olympics, during which Indian women won two medals, while none went to men. As this happened, we Indians, in all our jingoism, circulated many sexist messages on social media, the mainstream media came up with many sexist headlines and carried many sexist articles in the lure of increasing their TRPs/viewership by tapping the common emotional Indian’s sentiment that women have bettered men and men aren’t doing enough. In fact much to disbelief of some, a sporting authority durung a media debrief went to the extent of prompting and forcing a winning athlete to talk in words synchronous to the nationwide Sachcha Bharat campaign, with an intent to reap in political mileage and benefit out of her win.
For all this fiasco of mocking the not-so-successful Indian Olympic delegates on the basis of their gender and painting a political colour to India’s wins, I need to ask, can’t we just enjoy the game and be happy for the winners or the participants?
There is a Gymnast Deepa Karmakar, who represented India first time in an Olympics final and there is a racewalker Manish Sigh Rawat who – with 408 times less funds than what his US counterpart gets – defeated former world champions, three Asian champions, two European champions and two Olympic medallists only to finish a few seconds behind the bronze medallist in the racewalking finals. Both these real life winners, with all the struggles they faced, failed to win India a medal. But in any possible way, is Deepa’s struggle more difficult than that of Manish, just because she belongs to a gender which is considered to be lesser privileged? Without any such comparison, why don’t we encourage everyone to do better?
To everyone who has indulged in circulating messages or articles that unnecessarily mock make olympics participants down, while comparing them to their female counterparts, I ask a few basic questions:
1. Out of a country of more than 1.25 billion, only 117 Indians participated in 2016 Olympics. Should we now bash up all the other 1.25 billion population who didn’t qualify, didn’t participate or didn’t even attempt to participate at the Olympics?
2. Out of a total of 28 sports, India participated in 15. On being unsuccessful in participating in the remaining 13 disciplines, should the Indian players of these 13 sports be subjected to Court Marshalls and stripped of their sporting uniforms for not being able to represent India?
3. Should all the Indian cricketers and kabaddi players be humiliated for choosing a sport that doesn’t find itself in the Olympics? Does anything of this sort take anything away from efforts the Indian Olympians put in?
4. Out of 207 participating nations at the 2016 Olympics, India finds itself around the 70th position, which is abysmal for the biggest democracy, 2nd most populous country or one of the top 10 geographically largest nation of the world. Now on being lesser successful narion as compared to the remaining 60-odd nations, should the Indian contingent be beaten up black and blue? Have they in anyway put lesser efforts than the other supporting nations?
5. Another matter of fact is that Indians with ‘special abilities’ won more medals in Paralympics as compared to able-bodied Indians in Olympics. Does the lack of success of Olympians as compared to Paralympians give us a justification to disrespect and humiliate them?
6. I am sure most of us do not know the name of a single Paralympic player. Does this lack of awareness amongst us Indians give us a license to mock each other and amputate each other’s body parts in an effort to support those specialty abled Paralympians?
Can we just accept the fact that it is hard for an Indian to pursue sports – mainstream of otherwise – and much more difficult to be an Olympic player?
Can we all for a moment pause and applaud these masters of the games, bow down in front of them for their dedication, hard work and efforts and shower them with a lot of love, respect and blessings instead of demeaning their efforts, being critical and smirking at them? Because it won’t be a long time before they disapper from our memories completely only to find them in a dilapidated shanty or running pillar to post trying to make their ends meet, desperately struggling for basics in their life, while we enjoy a priviledged cup of our daily coffee in an air-conditioned room.
Keywords: 2016 Olympics, Gender Discrimination, India, Men, Olympics, Misandry