ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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India's Attitude towards Sports

The suicide of a teenage sportswoman recently showcases all that is wrong with Indian sports.

On 7 May this year, 16-year-old Aparna Ramabhadran, undergoing training at a water sports facility run by the Sports Authority of India (SAI) in Alappuzha in Kerala, died. She and three other fellow sportswomen, all of the same age, had eaten poisonous fruits in an apparent suicide pactbecause they were being harassed and ragged by their“seniors.” Media reports also quoted the parents of these four young girls as saying that they had been subjected to harassment over a period of time and that the coach too had behaved very harshly with them, even beating one of them with an oar.

The sports ministry has now asked SAI to set up a 24-hour helpline at all its centres, empanel counsellors to visit its centres at least once a month for individual or group counselling sessions, appoint a full-time woman warden at all girls’ hostels andensure that officers at the level of assistant directors manage these centres. While the Ministry of Sports’ instructions cannot be faulted, what is galling is that it took the suicide of a promising teenager and an attempted suicide by three others to get them issued. How long it will take to implement these directives and ensure their effective functioning is anybody’s guess, given the low importance given to sports in India, which has for long kept the door open for political capture of sports admini­stration. The mental and psychological well-being of a sportsperson is considered integral to sports training worldwide; in India it has taken a tragedy for the sports ministry to initiate the first steps.

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