Stand outside my college gate for a day and watch the traffic. In a few hours you would have spotted a few Audis, maybe a couple of Range Rovers, definitely a dozen or so BMWs and Mercedes Benz luxury sedans. You’d think in a country like this, there should at least be some who can afford to spare a few bottles of water. O.P. Jaisha fainted after the Women’s 42km marathon in the Rio Olympics. Why? Because a country that sent a couple dozen officials in Business Class flights to display their ugly faces at the Olympics couldn’t afford to put a few water bottles at their stands every 2km. How much would that cost? Let’s say she needs a can of Red Bull (I honestly don’t know what they drink, but I’m taking a random overpriced energy drink here) and a bottle of water at each pit stop; that’d amount to around 140 INR. Let’s say there are 20 pit stops she could take refreshments from, that’ll amount to 2800 INR. I have seen ladies here spending 10,000 INR on something they wear once and throw away. 2800 INR is what a middle class Indian would pay for a watch from Flipkart, a pair of Vincent Chase frames from Lenskart or a pair of sneakers from Amazon. Excuse us for thinking that India can afford to buy their athletes water. WATER! It’s not as if they treat them with any dignity or respect once the atheletes are back on home turf. It’s common knowledge that all the major league teams in India, be it of any sport, are all made up of half-assed players who are there only because their uncle/second cousin/brother-in-law/some distant relative has political connections and wants them to get a sports scholarship to go and study abroad; “Beta INGLAAND mein padte hein” (He studies in England). Me and my friends personally know exceptionally talented sportsmen who were rejected by government sports organisations because they lacked the necessary political connections, the money or the corrupt mindset expected of any Indian in any government position. Dipa Karmakar trained on a vault assembled from parts of an old scooter. But c’mon, if we can’t even afford water for one person then forget gym equipment, that’s just asking for too much isn’t it? *Looks around at all the loaded businessmen and millionaire politicians*; yup, we’re just too poor.
Dipa’s coach has told us of the conspiracies, so have thousands of Indian athletes and their coaches, all of which only come to surface every four years at this time of year; for 15 days, people care, or at least talk about the issue. Then it’s back to forgetting that sports exist, back to googling the best entrance coaching class for your kid who’s obviously meant to sit on his ass and code all day, working for a pittance for some American corporation that’ll suck his soul out but he’ll be too busy to notice because he’ll be living the American Dream in Silicon Valley. Let’s face it, sports? Seriously? Why that when you can live a comfortable life, have a 9 to 5 job, a gold digging wife and 5 brats (because obviously 1.3 billion Indians aren’t enough). We have people with brains to work out highly complex algorithms and build technologies for other nations but when it comes to putting a bottle of water on a table so that our fellow countryman won’t have to finish the race on the verge of death, we’re stumped.
I’m sorry O.P. Jaisha, about the water. I’m as much a part of the problem as are the other 1 billion or so people who claim to support you but have never actually done anything about it. I’m sorry Dipa, for not having thought of crowdfunding quality gym equipment for talented people like you, because we all know the government would never bother. I’m sorry to all the athletes and sportsmen who go through so much, get hurt and beaten to the ground by their own country and yet still brave everything to represent it. I would never have the strength to do what you do. Thank you for teaching us a poignant lesson. Seeing how we treat you, even 2 medals are more than enough.