On January 22, 2016 the day Prime Minister Narendra announced his scheme of Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao (BBBP), little did he know that it would come back to him as such a blessing. With the flip of a year-and-half a beti named Sakshi Malik became the nation’s saving grace to clinch the country’s first medal at the biggest stage of world sports, 2016 Olympics held in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. The journey of the Indians in the event though has been a forgettable one sans few flashes of brilliance.
Coincidentally, Modi made the announcement of his BBBP scheme loud and clear in Panipat, Haryana, the state which Sakshi hails from. The state which also has the cult distinction of being second after Jammu & Kashmir in female foeticide. The piece of fact may spur Modi fans to go to town highlighting the PM’s farsightedness, but the reality is, the move clicked for the PM. A sweet-timed cover drive, one must say in cricket terminology.
It was icing on the cake, when another 21-year-old woman PV Sindhu fetched her country its second and final medal (silver) at the Rio Olympics. Another in the fray, gymnast Dipa Karmakar though may have missed the medal by a proverbial whisker, still has created enough of a flutter in the world gymnastics circles which has never been explored by the Indians post 1964 Tokyo Games.
Even if one credits the PM for his vision, the truth is there are several others factors that make a champion. PM can announce schemes, but can’t spot talents or nurture them to maturity. The onus actually is on the parents and kins of every girl child. It takes a lot to make a champion even after spotting potentials. A case in point is any of the three — Sindhu, Sakshi and Dipa — who have had immense backing from their families.
A former volleyball player of repute, PV Ramanna made sure that his daughter gets the opportunity to exhibit her talent. And for that, he even didn’t mind riding his scooter for 40 kilometres with Sindhu being the pillion rider as early as 4:30 am day in, day out. The former national spiker ensured his daughter gets the best of training at the Gopichand academy, if that means a long ride, be it.
Sakshi also had a similar support back home when she started getting impressed by her wrestler grandfather Badhlu Ram’s stardom in their Mokhra village in Haryana. A twist in the tale was always on cards. Sakshi’s parents, Sukhbir and Sudesh Malik granted their daughter’s wish and admitted her for wresting coaching at the age of 12. The interesting journey since then finally came to fruition in August company.
Dipa’s tale was no different either. Due to Dipa’s keen interests in gymnastics her father Dulal Karmakar, a weightlifting coach himself and mother Gauri Karmakar enrolled her into Vivekananda Byamagar, the oldest gymnasium in Agartala when she was six. Encountering the hurdle of being flat-footed thwarted her hopes, but failed to dash it. Also putting her in vernacular medium school was also an attempt to curb the pressure of studies and devote more time to her passion — gymnastics. She is currently appearing for Her MA exams. Sacrifices really paid off.
So, for all the three golden girls, there are few things in common. Talent, support, and coach. They didn’t need any yojanas of any governments to realise their dreams, rather they needed the above three factors to work in their favour. It worked, they surged. Even PM’s Olympics task force won’t succeed if these ingredients are not there in right proportions.
Of course, the PM’s stand on women empowerment and growing number of young women venturing into sports in an otherwise non-sporting nation are brighter sides. However, it’s a beginning of a new chapter and Modi may end up saying Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao, Beti Khilao.