Talent We Have, It’s The Intent That We Lack

Saturdays With Shivani

Wherever I look, there is talk of Olympics and I have to confess that I don’t watch or follow the games at all. Sports has never been my area of interest but that’s not the reason because Olympics is more about celebrating the human spirit than just the games. As an Indian there is a certain futility that I associate with being glued to the TV screen.

We’ve grown up with wise adages like boye ped babul ka, so amua kaha se paaye (When you have sown seeds of Babool tree, how can you expect mangoes from them) so I find our collective optimism naïve and if I may say cute.

For a country that has almost no respect for sports, it isn’t just the Olympics that catch our fancy but also the Common Wealth games and the Asian games as well where I spot Indians cheering the loudest from the side lines. Once the frenzy is over, sports is relegated back to the same side lines to gather dust.

Forget encouraging our children, we almost dissuade them from taking up sports and I understand the reasons. We want to spare our children the agony because we dread the hoops that they may have to jump not to mention the exploitation and the lack of facilities and infrastructure. If it’s a girl, throw in some gender bias in the mix as well.

As a nation there is a blatant disregard to talent. Politics over performance rules and this short sightedness has cost us dearly in terms of recognition and accolades. Every sports movie ever made shows the ugly side of this politics and I have never understood how administration can insult its sportspersons to whom they owe their existence. If our sportspersons perform better on the world arena, wouldn’t it bring India glory and benefits that the administration will enjoy too? How difficult is it to join the dots? Maybe quite since they aren’t any wiser in all these 74 years.

In my honest opinion, the entire Olympic contingent deserves a medal to have just made it to Tokyo. Training is hard but the hardships our athletes face are unfathomable for most of their compatriots from countries that revere sports. The few who will manage to get medals in Tokyo would predictably be decorated and state and central governments shall vie over each other to announce benefits to them. Why can’t a conducive atmosphere be created for the future athletes so that they can train and shine without having to worry about the food on their table?

Our news channels dig into the ‘humble’ roots of our winners and every detail of their life is flashed on primetime. When runners recount that they had no money for good shoes why doesn’t our media raise questions? As viewers, why do we get a kick out of romanticising their miseries?

I know I am just stating the obvious and offering no solutions. We are all to be blamed for our poor performance in any international game event. Our country doesn’t lack talent; it’s the intent that we are short of.

Dr. Shivani Salil


  • Rhiti Chatterjee Bose

    Brilliantly written. In Indian schools sports is just a physical education period once a week and then we lament about not getting enough medals.

  • Poojq

    Brilliant Shivani. Truth well penned.Harsh reality is we want our kids to be all rounders but fail to support when it comes to just sports. Also, so much of time is consumed in studies that there is little time left for other things


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