Mirabai Chanu recently won a silver medal in the Tokyo Olympics in weightlifting. My Instagram stories and WhatsApp status were flooded with her achievement. Some of my friends hurriedly put their status and put the wrong person instead of Mirabai Chanu. I was thinking whether they were competing on who would give her achievement status first.
Before the Tokyo Olympics began, I got a list of Indian players who would be taking part. To my surprise, I really did not know most of them. From my state, West Bengal, three players took part this time. I only knew Atanu Das among the three. I was feeling really guilty that I didn’t know most of them.
The celebration of the achievements of Mirabai Chanu is just the sheer hypocrisy of our Indian society. Most people now know that Mirabai Chanu is from Manipur. Tell them to show where exactly is Manipur. Most of them will fail.
It is really unfortunate that today’s children know most of the states of North America rather than knowing all the North-Eastern states. Some people might argue that they know Mary Kom. Yes, but that is because of her win in boxing and her biopic. But do they know the other Northeastern players like Nilakanta Sharma, Lalremsiami?
When the COVID-19 outbreak happened, we saw that people from the North-East were targeted everywhere in the country. Some were even beaten saying that they only brought Corona to the country. North Indians call them “Momo”, “Chinki”, “Chinese”. Everyone from the North-East who is based in Delhi and other Indian metro cities must face discrimination.
In 2020, a Manipuri girl was verbally abused and was spat at and called “Corona”. And now in 2021, we are only celebrating their win. Doesn’t this show the sheer hypocrisy of our society?
Athletes like Mirabai Chanu will be in limelight for some days but after that everything will remain the same sadly. Society will forget her and again discrimination will begin. Amit Shah, our home minister, was standing in ovation when Mirabai Chanu won. Ironically the recommendations of the MK Bezbaruah Panel are still not implemented under the new home ministry.
Recently it was heard that most of the state governments will pay money to the Olympic athletes. But in the past, we have seen that most of them were not paid fully. Several sportspersons said there has been no communication from the government on the reasons for the delay or when they would get the trophy and prize money.
Assam recently announced that their government will provide government jobs to the athletes, but what about the other states?
From our childhood, we are always told to study and not pursue any career in sports. This is contrary to the other countries where children are encouraged to pursue careers in sports. Our country sadly pays most of the attention to cricket.
I am a football fan. I remember once that Sunil Chhetri pleaded to the people of India to “criticise us, abuse us, but please see football”. It was backed up by Virat Kohli, otherwise, that plea wouldn’t have been heard.
But has anything changed till now? The answer is no. Be it football, hockey, para-Olympics, our society doesn’t give the slightest attention to it. Recently India won against New Zealand in hockey but does our society know about that? Only a handful know sadly.
Athletes of North Eastern states like Mirabai Chanu do feel a lot of hope when we applaud their achievements. It will really be painful to see if discrimination against North East people still continues. When I followed Mirabai Chanu on Instagram before the Tokyo Olympics, it was just 50k followers which made me sad, but now it rose over 200k followers.
Indian society should not only applaud for a short time they should keep supporting the athletes just like they support cricket. The Indian government should also invest in these athletes and pay them their deserved amount.