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These Badminton Prodigies Put India On The World Map Of The Sport

Badminton is one of the most loved sports in India. It is not only played professionally, but also on the streets. From your grandfather to your mother, you must have seen someone play in your family. For over a decade, India has given birth to many brilliant badminton players. These players have not only made our country proud, but also motivated the youth in the country to take up badminton as a profession.

After the success of many badminton players, India saw the opening of many badminton academies. These players have not only motivated people to play badminton, but also inspired them to stay healthy and fit. Badminton is considered one of the sports that not only keeps you fit, but also gives you an adrenaline rush. The fast pace of the game has attracted crowds as spectators and also the players. With this, the awareness about badminton as a professional game is increasing at a rapid rate. All this has been made possible by some of the gems of India.

Popular Indian Badminton Players


Prakash Padukone

A player who dominated the badminton scene for almost a decade, Prakash Padukone helped India get on the world map in badminton. Born on 10th June, 1955, in Bangalore, Padukone is a badminton legend who became the first Indian to win the All England Championship in 1980. It is the world’s most prestigious annual badminton competition in which he triumphed like no other Indian. At the fragile age of 16, Padukone won the National Senior Championships in 1971, hence becoming the youngest player to achieve the feat.

He then went on to win every successive championship till 1979, and in doing so, set a record for nine national titles in succession. He also won a gold medal in the Commonwealth Games in 1978. Padukone achieved the number one world badminton ranking because of the wins in the All England championship. He was the first Indian to achieve that status. He retired in 1989 and in 1994, opened the Prakash Padukone Badminton Academy along with his fellow player Vimal Kumar. In 1982, he was awarded the Padma Shri, which is the most prestigious civilian honour in India.

Pullela Gopichand

You must have heard the name of the world famous badminton players PV Sindhu and Saina Nehwal. There is one commonality between the two of them — their coach is Pullela Gopichand. He is not just a great player, but also a great coach. Gopichand made his first appearance in international badminton in 1991, and has achieved many accolades in his life. He won bronze and silver medals in the Commonwealth Games in 1988. In 2001, he won the All England Championship.

Due to many physical injuries he got on his journey, he retired early and opened an international badminton academy. He now trains bright and brilliant badminton players. He has been awarded the Padma Shri, Dronacharya Award and Arjuna Award.

PV Sindhu

PV Sindhu is one of the most precious gems of India. Most of us know who she is, this is kind of the impact she has had in India. In 2016, she won a silver medal in the Olympics. This made her the second woman after Saina Nehwal to achieve this achievement. She rewrote history after becoming the first Indian shuttler to ace the badminton World Championship, defeating Japan’s Nozomi Okuhara in Switzerland. Sidhu is still going strong in her career. She is the recipient of the Padma Shri, Arjuna Award and Gandhi Khel Ratna award.

Saina Nehwal

Saina Nehwal has been the world’s number one badminton player and is the only Indian to have achieved this.

Saina Nehwal is one of the most famous female badminton players in India. She has worked hard and has come a long way in her national and international journey. She won the junior badminton championship in 2004 and then again the next year.

She has been the world’s number one badminton player and is the only Indian to have achieved this. Nehwal was the first Indian to win a medal in the Olympics. She has over 23 international titles to her name. She has played a vital role in popularising the game in the country. With all the prestigious awards to her name, she is also a recipient of the Arjuna Award, Padma Shri and Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award.

Srikanth Kidambi

One of the most celebrated players in India, Srikanth Kidambi became the recipient of the highest prize money in 2017. He left behind Lee Chong Wei and Tai Tzu Ying in this race. He has numerous achievements to his name. Kidambi is another one of the star players to be coached by Pullela Gopichand. Kidambi is the recipient of the prestigious Arjuna Award.

Aparna Popat

Aparna Popat is another star player in India. She has several achievements to her name, one of the most prestigious being the winner of the National Senior Women’s Badminton for the highest number of times. She has also attended many international events. In 1988, she became the first Indian woman to win the French Open title. She is also the recipient of the Arjuna Award.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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