Imagine working on a project for 2 years with immense dedication and passion with a hope that at the end, the rewards of the sacrifices you made would bear fruits and benefit you (not only in terms of achieving milestones, but also economically) and post your achievement of the milestone your boss gives you ‘char-aana’ in return.
That is what exactly happened with our kabaddi champions, post their triumph over Iran on the 23rd October, 2016. A total of Rs. 10 Lakhs prize money was awarded between all the players (who represented 1/6th of humanity proudly donning that blue jersey) which when divided amongst them amounted to a paltry sum of Rs. 67,000/- per Player which in comparison to that of the prize money given to PV Sindhu (who was given Rs. 13 Crore for her Silver medal achievement in the Olympics) came to 0.051% of what PV Sindhu was given. The prize money if divided over a period of 2 years (i.e. 24 months) would amount to Rs. 2791 per month. This being the reward for their countless sacrifices while preparing for the Kabaddi world cup which they won not for themselves, but for the NATION, for India.
If that wasn’t enough, the alacrity with which the sports minister Mr. Vijay Goel tried to hog the limelight and credit, was out in the open for everyone to see. Ignoring the brilliance of our players who won back a game from the clutches of the opponent, whose players seemed determined on giving the defending champions a major setback is laudable.
Independent India which until now had only celebrated cricket victories, roared up to show their support on Social Media to the Kabbadi Indian National Team showering them with countless praises and greetings after their victory over Iran. Not only the masses, but luminaries including PM Modi himself congratulated the defending champions for their tremendous accomplishment.
While the current government seeks to encourage indigenous products and events, this hypocrisy at declaring different prize money for different sports is anything but motivating. Expecting the future generation to take up the ancient sport seeks unlikely if not absurd, if this act of hypocrisy is to be taken as a precedent.
The Kabaddi players do not expect BMW’s to be given to them as a mark of their success, but a minimum acknowledgment of their achievement, does not see like they are asking for a lot! None of the state governments announced any prize money for the world cup winners, with the sports ministry declaring a measly sum of Rs. 10 Lakhs as prize money for the entire team.
Ajay Thakur, India’s star raider of the Kabaddi team rightly showed his displeasure, stating that “When you see other athletes, such as Olympians and everyone being felicitated, but us getting ignored, it’s a bit de-motivating. Our regular national camps throughout the year are played on normal ground and not on artificial turf. So even if we are not given any prize money or felicitation, turfs being provided around the year would be an excellent addition. The prize money would also help me settle down, as I’m getting married next year,” The same goes for the unsung heroes in other sports e.g archery, chess and shooting who sacrifice their life’s work for the advancement of the sport in the nation.
It is an embarrassment for us as a Nation when players have to literally beg to be credited for their accomplishments. Political Parties such as MNS which aimed to score political milage by extorting money from the double faced film makers for the release of their films could have done themselves, the Kabaddi Team and the nation a big favour had they raised this issue with the same fervour instead.
Through this post we seek the Central Government and the respective state governments to come out and show solidarity to our players not merely in terms of encouraging words but also in terms of monetary benefits.
A dire need in parity for such rewards is the need of the hour, considering that sportsmen/women across all sports be it Cricket, Badminton or Kabaddi, make the same amount of sacrifices to reach at the pivot of their careers in their respective sports, and rewarding them for their sacrifices is the least the nation could do for them. And thus a generous sum for each of the kabbaddi players is not only logical but also necessary to ensure the evolution of the sport in the country.
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