The curious case of Dutee Chand

Rohit Mahajan

Poor Dutee Chand — she’s been caught within the hype round her fantastic and inspirational story. She has stated she is promoting her luxurious BMW automobile to fund her coaching.

Let’s put this in context — India’s per capita revenue is round Rs13,000 per 30 days. Even this modest determine is very inaccurate as a result of the distribution of wealth is very skewed — it’s estimated that 73 per cent of the wealth generated in 2017 went to the richest 1 per cent of the inhabitants. The richest 1 per cent possess extra wealth than 4 instances the wealth of the poorest 70 per cent. In the instances of the pandemic, 80 crore Indians could be offered free foodgrain till November — 60 per cent of our individuals would wish to rely on handouts to outlive. In this situation, an proprietor of a BMW (and two different vehicles) can’t be thought of very unlucky.

A big part of India’s inhabitants lives in financial misery. Dutee too lived like this — the household of 9 struggled to place meals on the desk. Extreme poverty pushed Dutee and her sister Saraswati into sport, in order that their bills could possibly be taken care of by the sports activities hostel run by the Odisha authorities.

The media, followers and the state nurture the righteousness of athletes — they’re portrayed because the upholders of a rustic’s satisfaction. But it’s a indisputable fact that they’ve not been forcibly enlisted to ‘serve’ the nation — individuals take to sport as a result of they get pleasure from it, or as a result of they could possibly be formidable for honour or fame, or as a result of they want sport as a automobile to flee poverty, as Dutee’s story reveals.

Sport has sensible makes use of — over a number of months of the suspension of sport, we now have learnt this lesson. Playing and watching sport is an anti-depressant. Sports achievements — resembling Dutee’s two silver medals on the Asian Games — carry the temper of a nation. Role fashions resembling Dutee give hope to individuals, draw children into sport and away from, say, narcotics or crime. Healthy persons are a lighter burden on a rustic’s medical infrastructure — which, in our case, creaks even in the very best of instances.

Support athletes

Fitter individuals would reduce the burden — that is probably the most pressing motive the state should create and help champion athletes. Populism is an element, too, for politicians and enterprise enterprises need to be seen enjoying a task in creating individuals’s heroes. That is how — regardless of all the failings of the system, regardless of the forms and red-tapism — Dutee or archer Deepika Kumari or rower Dattu Bhokanal got here to the fore to be counted among the many greatest on this planet.

We know there are flaws within the system — infrastructure is poor, grants are delayed, gear not offered, help on the decrease stage is negligible, substandard coaches are instructing outdated strategies… The record is lengthy.

Dutee, too, should have suffered — there’s all the time extra that may be achieved to assist an elite athlete resembling her. One essential issue is entry to newest sports activities science — it’s this that shaves that one-hundredths of a second off one’s timing, making a distinction between a medal and no medal. India has little price speaking about right here.

Dutee’s bills are excessive as a result of she prefers to coach on her personal in Bhubaneswar, not on the nationwide camp.

But, because the Odisha authorities revealed, Dutee hasn’t been left to fend for herself — a sum of over Rs4 crore had been spent on her since 2015; she has been given a no-work job with an annual wage of Rs10 lakh. Her coaching overseas is funded by the Union Sports Ministry, which additionally awarded her Rs40 lakh for her Asian Games silver medals.

Dutee didn’t dispute the main points, however got here up with unfair quibbling — that Rs3 crore given by the Odisha Government was a reward for medals already gained, not funding for coaching. This appears unsuitable. Dutee is an excellent and courageous athlete, however that doesn’t make her proof against occasional misjudgment or, probably, greed.

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