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Indian Kabaddi's iconic picture is not what it's made to be

15 Dec 2012, 18:31 IST

On the eve of the Kabaddi World Cup, let’s take a look at the plight of our eves.

Sukhbir Singh Badal, the deputy chief minister of Punjab has said that whoever wins in India-Pakistan games, it’s India who wins in the end. That statement is truer for the India-Malaysia women’s Kabaddi match. Remember how in the Olympics, China had two shuttlers in the finals? This women’s finals is kind of like that, as the Malaysian team is largely made up of Indians who are living abroad. Indian women’s team will play versus Malaysian women’s team in the finals today. This was scheduled to take place earlier but was postponed due to rain.

But should our Indian eves want to win? The last time Indian eves won:

- Their luggage got burned in a bus accident. Team management didn’t pay.
- They were held at the hotel for unpaid bills of Rs 22,000. Management paid after the team waited for two hours.

There are a lot of iconic pictures scattered throughout history. Stalin, Roosevelt and Churchill sitting together. The sailor kissing the girl after the war was over. Coming to Indian sports, some iconic images that come to mind are Saurav Ganguly waving his t-shirt around, and this one:

And down descended the vultures at the whiff of masala.

I’m not putting down the exposure of this oversight as a spotlight seeking action of overzealous reporters looking for a spicy headline. Speaking of spicy headlines, just Google rickshaw+kabaddi+women, and look at the ‘sansanikhej’ headlines which pop out:

Every single entry is about the supposed fiasco. Even one by a Siddharth Sharma. Way too many Sid Sharmas abound. Why couldn’t I have been named MetaBlaster ThumpingThomas Sharma or something?

Back to the issue, Indian Kabaddi players waiting for a rickshaw is one unfortunate image which persists, which is touted time and again as everything wrong with fringe sports in India. The idea it conveyed was that post their win, they were ushered out of the stadium and left to fend for themselves. And all the blame is being laid at the feet of the organizers, the country’s obsession with other sports, and everywhere else except where it belongs.

This picture is a perfect example of how one detail can be overshadowed by another tiny detail. Remember those puzzle pictures? Spot the error in the picture? Those pics had a tiny error to scope out. But this picture is contradictory to the issue which it is supposed to represent.

Show the picture to someone unfamiliar with the issue, what’s going to jump out at them? That the players are awaiting a rickshaw? Or that they are clutching a giant cheque of Rs 25 lac? Look at the coverage of this:

“Inko chakker badantzaami jhelni padi hai!” And I thought I knew Hindi. Where do they come up with these lines? Better yet, why didn’t they come up with a single line “How does it feel to have won the World Cup?” My question to that news channel is, did they actually bother to interview the players after their win? Given the choice, would the players have chosen to be interviewed about the win or have pictures of them awaiting autos splattered all around? Every single news channel which chose to air pictures of this was guilty of ignoring the players and focusing on the fiasco. They all caught on to the fact that the Kabaddi World Cup trophy had to be carried

Speaking of the fiasco, Punjab Sports Director Pargat Singh had said the arrangements for the kabaddi players were made by the organising committee. “We fulfilled all the demands made by the team management. If the players faced an inconvenience, it’s the responsibility of the team management,” said Singh.

Don’t get me wrong, this was an egregious breach of conduct. A matter to shake one’s head at. But the blame ought to be laid solely at the feet of the team management. They should have been held responsible. Not the government of Punjab, or the citizens of India, or anyone except the team management.

Remember 3 Idiots? The opening scene when Farhan zooms away from the airport in a car whose driver was standing there waiting for some bigshot CEO? Movies often gloss over the side effects of the main characters in the stories. Whatever happened to the poor driver or the antagonized CEO? Anyone spare a thought for Major Joginder Dhillon?

Dhillon was probably made to wait for an autorickshaw. He was a very famous man and people probably snapped pictures of him standing there and taking an auto back home. His company probably circulated a memo announcing the firing of the driver.

The driver was to blame. And his higher-ups who did not bother to show him a picture of the CEO or even arrange for a secret pass word to be exchanged between the CEO and driver to verify each other’s identity. This was an organizational blooper. It did not mean that the entire company was against the CEO or that the driver conspired against him.

This was a simple oversight which does not reflect anything besides the incompetence of the team management. There is a disproportionate amount of attention being paid to a non issue here. Yes, the players ought to have had conveyance arranged for them. No, it’s non-arrangement does not mean that their accomplishment is being belittled by the entire nation.

Gadi bheji thi to runway pe chali gayi kya?

Would it be justified if the above picture of Major Dhillon was plastered all over the newspapers with the slogan “Big shot CEO Major Dhillon gets no love from his own organization”? It is a matter of shame but not as big as that.

Our news channels love to play up controversies and milk every last drop out of them. If the same would have happened with cricket, the cricket team would tweet pictures of themselves in the autos and say:

“Lol, what a mixup! Enjoyed simple ride home!” Since it happened in Kabaddi, the role to be played is that of a “Oh woe is me! I’m so ignored.”  So the media ran with that card.

After absorbing the news about the women’s team, what was the lasting impression made upon you? That our eves were unappreciated or that they had won the World Cup? That is the point I want to hammer home. That we ought to pay attention to what matters more. The fact that our eves won the World Cup.

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