Shooter Anisa Sayyed who clinched a silver in the just-concluded edition of Commonwealth Games in Glasgow to go with her record-breaking double gold in Delhi four years ago, is still living in hope of a job promised by the Haryana government, post her earlier win. This athlete stated that despite reassurances, nothing has come out of the promise yet. She added that she turned down a couple of jobs because of these promises and in hindsight, has realised that this was a mistake.
Post this Commonwealth, medal winners have been promised all kinds of rewards by state governments and ministers. From jobs to cash awards, they seem to be raining down on Indian medal winners. Now, our authorities must ensure that these really happen. Mere lip service and things said in the euphoria of success, are irresponsible ramblings that are only talk. They may sound good in press reports or television sound bytes but when not backed by action, they give rise to simmering resentment, a sense of bitterness and corrosive cynicism. In extreme cases, it may lead to extremely talented sportspersons quitting the game in disgust altogether.
After every major multi-sport event, one hears governments and ministers promising different monetary rewards for triumphant athletes. While some of these promises are fortunately kept, sadly, one also reads reports that reveal that some of those claims have not fructified into concrete cash awards or jobs and athletes are still waiting.
To raise expectations of athletes who are now achieving some success on the international stage, while still spending copious amounts on travel and training, and then not fulfil them, is a huge betrayal.
Governments must give offers and promises in writing and then ensure that these are adhered to. They cannot make tall promises and bogus claims for publicity and self-aggrandisement.
Ministers and corporates who backtrack must also realise that they are playing with the lives and hopes of those who make the tricolour fly at international podiums with their sweat and blood. They owe them the truth, if nothing else.