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Sailing through in eye-catching ways

Sailing through in eye-catching ways

Photo for representational purpose only. - PTI file photo



Rajan Kashyap

THE media has highlighted two elevating stories of human adventures on water. Emanating from geographically distant regions and disparate socio-economic environs, the two narratives exhibit tremendous fortitude and determination of people facing different kinds of challenges.

The country is celebrating the success of the men’s coxed eight rowing team, which has won a silver medal at the Hangzhou Asian Games. These rowers hail from villages of Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Maharashtra. Every Indian citizen’s heart swells with pride at the team’s achievement. Delving deeper, one realises that the success was not produced by sheer chance. Its foundation was the Army’s passion to produce world-class sportspersons from a vast reservoir of talent lying untapped in lakhs of villages across the country. By a stiff merit-based selection, the true potential of players is gauged at a stage when they are nondescript wanderers in backward habitations. Many villages, which are the breeding ground of these champion sportspersons, are deficient even in basic human needs such as water supply, sanitation and shelter. The entire team of medal-winning athletes had been selected some years earlier by the Army from villages on the strength of their physical and mental attributes. The Army has modestly named its sporting mission the Army Adventure Foundation.

Under systematic tutelage, nurturing and grooming, so many uncut diamonds have been moulded to shine brilliantly. The eight rowers in the news today owe their success to the years they were disciplined and trained on a water course in Kirkee, near Pune, under the Army Rowing Node. The Military Engineering Service has created a world-class water course. For months, the sporting heroes spurned delicacies and sacrificed leave to fulfil their dream of excelling on the waterway.

Closer home is a contrasting story of flooded villages in Jalandhar and Kapurthala districts, where marooned people traverse on makeshift boats from their localities even for their daily needs. If it were not so heart-wrenching, a newspaper photograph of a newly wed couple would be the stuff of a romantic novel. Instead of riding a horse to reach the wedding altar, the bridegroom from a village in Jalandhar’s Lohian block, carrying the ceremonial sword, is perched precariously in a dilapidated boat with the bride in her finery. Floodwaters four feet deep and full of filth have submerged the fields. The inhabitants have acclimatised themselves to the floods. Children float on tubs to reach school; groceries are delivered to houses on crumbling floats that masquerade as boats. On display is the rare Punjabi quality of resilience under stress. And the bridegroom certainly deserves a medal for braving the deluge to claim his beloved, not unlike the immortal Heer-Ranjha in folklore!


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