Saturday, July 20, 2024

The Olympian spirit

Editorial 2

On the face of it, it’s another heartbreaking Olympic Games for India but it isn’t so because our sportspersons did bring home few medals and they have come from the place of the great spirit of the Olympics. And this place lives in the rural, farming, under-developed, impoverished, neglected and unnoticed villages and small towns across India. Once again, it is rural India that saves the day for India and brings glory to India. It is pertinent to remember this on the eve of India’s 75th anniversary of Independence ~ given our geographical and other realities, this must ground us to the fact that India lives and will always live in our villages and hamlets. Medal or no medal, ultimately it is the Olympic spirit that has prevailed and it took our sportspersons from the country’s forgotten nook and corners to remind us that all that glitters is not gold. But, alas, it is the glitter that has so engrossed our attention and has become our aspiration. Now, what about Nagaland, another nook and corner of the country? We had two Olympians and we can have many more but we are not making them. The reasons why we are unable to produce even regional level sportspersons are many and we know all of them ~ yet we remain content talking about our failures without lifting a finger to change the narrative. That is the primary reason why we fail to excel in sports. As long as we continue to look at the glass half empty, we will not reach anywhere near excellence. Obviously, first thing to do is remove all politicians and bureaucrats from Sports Authorities. But let’s also be clear that excellence always doesn’t necessarily mean medals. The very fact of trying, persevering and competing in sports or any human endeavour speaks of excellence ~ an integral component of the Olympic spirit. Thousands of sports persons qualify for the Olympic Games but very few of them win medals ~ but it doesn’t matter because qualifying alone speaks about the will to be the very best hence all Indian sports persons, who qualified to compete in these Games must be saluted for their grit. Sadly, it is this grit that is missing in Nagaland’s youth. But that is not really their fault because our society and State doesn’t acknowledge, allow and nurture this grit in our youngsters ~ in any field. Every child, anywhere, is born with all the inherent physical, mental, psychological, emotional and intellectual endowments but right from the day a child is born, we do everything possible to mould her into our narrow and warped images ~ thereby suppressing growth every which way. This has much to do with our perceptions of culture, religion, politics and social mores, as also our biases, prejudices and bigotries that define and determine a youngster’s path in life and controls individual’s behavior and conduct. Right from day one, we suppress the innate spirit and strength human beings are born with by strait-jacketing children. The Olympic spirit, in fact the very spirit of a meaningful and fulfilling life, demands that all barriers for full realization of this spirit are dismantled. So yes, it does take the whole village to dismantle these barriers. Simultaneously, youngsters must also be determined to break these barriers ~ just as Mira, Lovlina and Ravi did, which is the main story of the Olympic spirit, not the medals won or lost. Besides, breaking the barriers and glass ceilings is a universal story of clear objectives, determination, perseverance, consistency, sacrifices ~ the very spirit of never-say-die. If our youngsters are to excel in sports or any other field, Naga society and State must instill in them the never-say-die spirit and create the space and scope for their natural instinct to compete and excel ~ plus, stop mollycoddling them. Every individual is unique ~ if we respect that, we must not bring up our youngsters to fit into our set images of squares and rounds but give them the freedom to create their own shapes. There is only one group of people in Nagaland that live by the never-say-die spirit ~ our politicians ~ because our society allows, enables, empowers them this spirit ~ so, why not our sportspersons and those with aspirations in other fields also? Our children too are born with the Olympian spirit but we have crushed it for far too long. It’s time to allow and enable them to embrace this spirit.