The Tribune - Spectrum


Sunday, December 2, 2001

Dismal story of Indian sports

APROPOS of K.R. Wadhwaney’s write-up "The dismal story of Indian sports" (November 18), every time we fail to win medals at international sports meets, there is great consternation in all quarters. People feel let down and blame the authorities for the debacle. Our parliamentarians go so far as to suggest a temporary embargo on the participation of Indian sportspersons in world-class tournaments. The government promises to formulate a new sports policy within a week and does so!

If under-development and poverty are the main causes, then how do even more under-developed countries come up with a respectable haul of gold medals? It may be borne in mind that the well-fed segment of our people is larger then the combined population of Germany, Cuba, Spain, South Korea, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and Norway — which among themselves bag a plethora of medals.

A reason for our poor performance is certainly the politicisation of sports. The top elective offices of the sports organisations offer status and attractive perks. One cannot imagine the extent of intrigue and skullduggery to which the self-appointed "patrons" would go to secure an elected position. Having won by trading favours and obligations, they indulge in irregularities. Selections are invariably marred by bitter controversies and charges of favouritism. This is certainly not the best way to promote team spirit and enthuse our contingents to win laurels for the country in international contests.


There is, as yet, no tradition in India of spotting talent at a young age and allowing it to grow to its potential. Elsewhere in the world, the nurseries of sports talent are the schools and colleges. In India this is not possible because schools find it difficult even to provide classrooms for students and it is too much to expect them to have playgrounds, swimming pools and gymnasia.

Another reason for our poor showing in competitive sport is cultural. Sports rank very low in our order of priorities. Even enlightened citizens who moan the most about the inadequacy of playing facilities in our schools, would be the first to admonish their children if they take a too keen an interest in games. It is slogging at your books that gets you high marks, admission in professional institutions, selection in competitive examinations. A student is considered good only if he is good at his studies.

All politicians (and some bureaucrats) should be banished from the country’s sports organisations, leaving sports for sportspersons. Sports is too serious a business to be left in the hands of political opportunists.



Punjab: the spirit of sport

This refers to "Punjab: the spirit of sport" by Prabhjot Singh (november 18). The writer highlighted Punjab’s contribution to Indian sports and beautifully traced the history and growth of the Indian Olympic movement, paying rich tribute to Punjab’s sports heroes and heroines — both past and present.

Punjab has always been in the fore front of the freedom struggle, food and milk production, development, as well as sports. The hockey team, which won the Third World Hockey Cup, led by the legendary Ajit Pal Singh, comprised of more than half the players from Punjab. Similarly, the Indian junior hockey team, which recently claimed the Junior World Cup included eight players from Punjab.

Likewise, in other disciplines, too, Punjab has never lagged behind. Sports run in the blood of Punjabis and given an opportunity, they have showcased their tremendous sporting prowess.

Politics, nepotism, favouritism and not merit have been the bane of Indian Sports. Punjab, too, has not remained unaffected by the malaise. Sports administrators are mostly ignorant persons, occupying their chairs because of extraneous consideration rather than love or sports. They run sports bodies according to their whims.

If competent men are at the helm of affairs and teams are selected on the basis of merit alone, infrastructure is created, modern equipment is provided and the corporate sector comes forward to sponsor the games, then undoubtedly sports can help Punjab attain pride of place.




The contribution of Punjabi athletes such as Parveen Kumar, Milkha Singh, Ajmer, Gurdip Singh, Parduman, Joginder Singh, Manjit Walia, Sunita Rani were mentioned but Hari Chand, the famous athlete’s name was omitted. This small stature athlete, was from Hoshiarpur district and won two gold medals in long distance (5000 and 10,000 metres) in Asiad and was popularly called the "Asian long distance King".




Dealing with schizophrenia

This refers to Taru Bahl’s "Learning to deal with schizophrenia" (November 18). One always fails to understand why a relationship that starts with a lot of fanfare, love and mutual promises suddenly turn into a contract to be terminated at the drop of a hat. One wonders whether a mother could divorce her son or daughter who might have developed some fatal and even infectious disease. Then why should one think of leaving the life-partner, particularly the wife, who develops some serious ailment? We in India boast of traditional values of mutual love and respect in marital bonds and despite our westernised lifestyle expect a wife to be faithful soulmate and a humble and obedient housekeeper. But why should the whole surroundings around her suddenly turn hostile and strange once she is cursed with some serious physical or mental disorder?

It is ironical that the husband and his relatives, particularly his mother and sisters, should think of ways to achieve a ‘clean break’ from the "doomed and traumatic marital relationship", if the lady is seriously ill. In such a case her parents are cursed for keeping them in the dark. But if man suffers from some similar mental or physical disorder, the wife is always advised, nay persuaded, to adjust and boldly accept her share of sufferings decreed by fate.

It is these double standards which woman has been forced to suffer all these years. Men must understand that marriage is a lifelong relationship and not a temporary contract, wherein there should be only mutual faith, regard and affection and not the unfounded suspicion and uncalled for accusations.

Ved Guliani, Hisar



The term schizophrenia actually means the fragmented ideas, perceptions and emotions of a person who is affected with this disorder. It is a type of mental illness.

Schizophrenia is, in fact, a group of disorders that have two basic phases or sets of symptoms. In the first phase that is known as ‘psychotic phase’ the individual perception of reality is seriously distorted. Delusions, which are false ideas about reality, and hallucinations, which are sensory perceptions such as hearing voices on seeing visions that don’t exist, plague the patient. During the second phase, which is known as ‘nonpsychotic phase’, a patient may often be withdrawn and feel ambivalent about much of his life. To constitute schizophrenia, such symptoms must last longer than six months and must not have any physiological reasons.

P.L. Sethi, Patiala

Preventing backache

This refers to B.K. Sharma’s write up "Some basics about the back" (November 18). It is difficult to define a maximum load, which should be lifted. In general, when the load approaches or exceeds 50 per cent of the individual’s body weight, it is likely to cause strain or loss of balance. It is suggested that the maximum weight for women should be about 50 per cent that for adult male workers.

In India, this rule is violated completely and back injuries account for a large proportion of sickness leave. Training is needed in the correct method of lifting weight.

Avtar Narain Chopra, Kurukshetra


Most backaches can be avoided by following a few simple rules.

Bend your knees when you wish to pick something heavy but keep the back straight. A person who is not accustomed to lifting heavy weights should not try to carry too much at a time. Exercise regularly. A moderate amount of exercise will do more good than strenuous exercise on rare occasions.

Change your position frequently and avoid sitting in a cramped position.

If you have back trouble, don’t worry. With proper treatment, your back will soon be better. Careful bending from side to side and also rotating the upper part of the body, while holding the lower part steady, will help to strengthen the back and keep the muscles strong and vigorous. At the same time, it will restore tone to all ligaments, tendons and joints.

O.P. Sharma, Faridabad

For those who love dogs

This has reference to "For those who love dogs" by Amit Tiwari (Nov 18). St. Bernard dogs help in mountain rescue operations by saving those buried under snow. In some countries dogs pull sledges while in others they even report forest fires.

In Himachal, gaddis use dogs to guard and round-up their cattle and sheep.

Around 2,000 dogs are employed in the British army to sniff land mines. Interestingly, they were served food in stainless steel bowls costing about fifteen pounds each. But the defence authorities found them expensive and replaced them with cheaper ones.

Americans have a whole range of accessories for dogs like anti-bad breath tablets, hair colours, wigs, deodorants, perfumes, toothpastes, etc. To enable dogs not to leave their paw marks on the floors and carpets, Terry Palmer a British, has designed tiny boots for dogs to prevent them from dirtying their feet when they go out.

Roshni Johar, Shimla

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