Tag: Leander Paes

Sania Mirza and humiliation

On 26/6/2012 Sania Mirza and Rushmi Chakrabarty got wild card entry for women’s doubles in London Olympics and Somdev Devvarman in men’s singles. Soon Sania issued a statement. Some excerpts:

“For Leander to consider partnering with Vishnu only if he has a written assurance from me to play mixed is, I think, demeaning for me, Vishnu and Leander. What is even more shocking is the manner in which facts have been misrepresented to justify the breaking up of a team that won a second Grand Slam. Leander and I are not the only combination likely to get a direct entry in the mixed doubles.

As an Indian woman belonging to the 21st century, what I find disillusioning is the humiliating manner in which I was put up as a bait to try and pacify one of the disgruntled stalwarts of Indian tennis… the manner and timing of the announcement reeks of male chauvinism where a two-time Grand Slam champion and No. 1 player in women’s singles and doubles is offered in compensation to partner one of the feuding champions purely in order to lure him into accepting to play with a men’s player he does not wish to play with!

This kind of blatant humiliation of Indian womanhood needs to be condemned even if it comes from the highest controlling body of tennis in our country.”

Anil Khanna, president of AITA, spoke of selection of players on 21/6/2012. Sania should have spoken soon after that. Waiting for wild card and speaking after that is opportunism. Sania has mentioned male chauvinism and blatant humiliation of Indian womanhood. One does not have to put up with humiliation. If Sania felt it was not just her humiliation but humiliation of Indian womanhood she should have refused to play. If she finds it demeaning to play with Leander she should refuse to play with him. She will do a great service to Indian womanhood.

Sania said Mahesh Bhupati had promised to be her partner in London Olympics and broke his promise to her. Krishna Bhupati had said Mahesh is a role model and had promised to partner Rohan Bopanna in Olympics and could not break his promise by agreeing to partner Leander. What about breaking promise to Sania? Is he not a role model then?

Sania mentioned she and Vishnu Vardhan had won silver medal in mixed doubles in Asian Games 2010 and the three stalwarts, Leander, Mahesh and Rohan, had refused to take part. She said she is ready to partner anyone in mixed doubles in Olympics. She has not received wild card for mixed doubles.

There was doubt about Somdev’s fitness when doubles players were considered. Now that he has got wild card for singles he seems to be fit. If Somdev did not want to play doubles Anil Khanna should have said that.

Rohit Rajpal should not have been sent to London to talk to Leander. They could have talked on phone.

Self-respect is greater than playing for country in Olympics. Respect of Indian womanhood is important. Sania can avoid blatant humiliation of Indian womanhood by refusing to be a bait to pacify a male player. She can say she will not play mixed doubles to uphold the dignity of Indian womanhood.

AITA and politicians

The role of politicians in the controversy surrounding the selection of tennis players for London Olympics has not been debated much. The debate has been mostly about players and AITA.

AITA selectors picked Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupati for men’s doubles. Mahesh refused. He should have been banned for life for refusing to play for India and asked to refund the amount spent on him. That would have sent a message to all players that AITA will not tolerate players dictating terms to AITA. AITA did not do that. They selected Rohan Bopanna. Rohan also refused. Mahesh and Rohan wanted to play as a pair and said two teams could be sent.

AITA wanted to send one team because there are no two teams. There are three top doubles players. Leander being No. 1, No. 2 or No. 3 player had to play with him. Since Mahesh and Rohan both refused AITA wanted to drop them and select someone else to play with Leander.

At this time sports minister Ajay Maken interfered and took the side of Mahesh and Bopanna. AITA officials met Ajay. They should have been clear that they will not send two teams. Instead they presented five options one of them being sending two teams. Ajay justified his interference saying government gives money to AITA. Then he said AITA will decide. Then S. M. Krishna, external affairs minister and honorary president of AITA, interfered.

Leander said he would withdraw if Mahesh and Bhupati are sent as a pair but pair with Vishnu Vardhan if they are the only pair. On 20/6/2012 around 11 p.m. Anil Khanna, president of AITA, said only one team will be sent and Leander being the best will play.

Something changed after that. Next day Anil Khanna said two men’s doubles teams will be sent and Leander will partner Sania Mirza if she got wild card. Leander wanted written commitment from Sania that she will partner him. He was not happy about two teams and did not confirm participation.

Political pressure made AITA change its decision. Anil Khanna should resign as president. Selectors should resign. The country is greater than Olympic medals. No tennis player or team should be sent to Olympics.

Bharata Ratna candidates

The decision of the government to change the rule for eligibility to get Bharata Ratna has stirred a debate and opened the floodgates with demands for Bharata Ratna for various persons. Formerly it was for art, literature, public service and science. Now it is for any field in human endeavour. The change came about because sport was not a category for which Bharata Ratna was given and many people wanted Sachin Tendulkar should get Bharata Ratna.

There are people who feel all national awards should be abolished because they are political. They are few. There are those who say giving Bharata Ratna for sport will devalue Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna which was equivalent to Bharata Ratna and if someone is given Bharata Ratna for sport all sportspersons who got Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna will feel humiliated. Sachin Tendulkar has got Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna. Since sport is included for Bharata Ratna, Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna should be abolished.

Some question the timing of announcement and say it is a diversion from the problems faced by UPA government. There is movement for Lokpal Bill. It had to hold back FDI in retail. There is demand for P. Chidambaram’s resignation. Rupee has weakened. Economy has declined. Sachin Tendulkar is expected to hit his 100th international 100. Conferring Bharata Ratna on Sachin Tendulkar will make people happy and they will forget about the problems.

There are people who say Dhyan Chand should be the first one to get Bharata Ratna. He got three gold medals in Olympics. He played in Amsterdam (1928), Los Angeles (1932) and Berlin (1936). He scored 1,000 goals in hockey. Dhyan Chand died on 3 December 1979. Some say both Dhyan Chand and Sachin Tendulkar should get. Some say one should get, giving to two will devalue Bharata Ratna. In the past two or more persons were given Bharata Ratna in the same year. That time nobody spoke of devaluation. Some say SachinTendulkar is too young while others oppose it saying he started young.

Apart from the above two there are many other names doing rounds.

Some have proposed Balbir Singh who got three gold medals in hockey in Olympics, another player who got three gold medals and one silver medal in hockey in Olympics, Prakash Padukone, Vijay Amritraj, Ramanathan Krishnan, Milkha Singh, Vishwanathan Anand, Abhinav Bindra, Leander Paes and Karnam Malleshwari. Someone said Mahendra Singh Dhoni should get Bharata Ratna because he led India to victory in T20 World Cup and ODI World Cup and No. 1 Test ranking.

Some have proposed Katrina Kaif, Shah Rukh Khan, Amitabh Bachchan, Raj Kapoor, Dev Anand, Rajnikant, Gulzar, Mohammed Rafi and Mamooty. Someone proposed Lata Mangeshkar without knowing she got Bharata Ratna some years back.

Some have proposed Anna Hazare.

Abolishing awards will mean end to controversies and demands about awards and saving money. Bharata Ratna should be restricted to living persons. It was meant and given for living persons except in case of Lal Bahadur Shastri who died unexpectedly and was awarded Bharata Ranta within a few days of his death. That changed in 1990 and for some years people who had died many years back got Bharata Ratna. Some years back there were demands on behalf of many persons who had died long back so the award has not been given to dead persons since then.