Of medals and mettle…

As far as India’s Olympic journey is concerned, one thing’s for sure, India’s women are doing their country proud ( with the notable exception of Shobha De 🙂 ) Dipa Karmakar, Sakshi Malik and now, PV Sandhu. Women have exceeded expectations and given us something to cheer.

Sakshi Malik won the first medal for India at the Rio Olympics and the entire nation celebrated her achievement on August 18. Malik won the first medal for India (a bronze) and the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi took to Twitter in order to congratulate her.

This is what Mr. Modi wrote:

“On this very auspicious day of Raksha Bandhan Sakshi Malik, India’s daughter, wins a bronze and makes us all proud “

Malik comes from Haryana, a place in North India which happens to be quiet hostile to its daughters. The census conducted in 2011 indicated that Haryana had a sex ratio of 834 girls to 1000 boys, the worst in the country. With a sex ratio of 834:1000, the chances of a girl battling all odds in order to become a wrestler appear quite bleak and distorted but Malik is one of those who dared to defy the odds.

I guess this is exactly what encouraged our very own Viru paaji (Virender Sehwag) when he wrote:

This is what women can do when you allow them to live.”

I guess, Viru paaji’s good intentions were very much clear, but unfortunately, not everybody has good intentions. Women don’t need to be potential Olympians to deserve to live. The worth of any person, irrespective of gender, cannot be measured in medals. Likewise, it would be sheer injustice to measure a woman’s worth by the number of sons she gives birth to.

I remember when PM Modi’s ” Selfie with daughter campaign was launched and some women dared to demand for real reforms and not selfies, they were taken to the cleaners. The Twitteratti called it ” Do Kaudi ki nautanki” (A two penny publicity stunt), all this is the name of a campaign to respect women.

These incidents clearly show how far we really are from respecting valuing women. If earlier women were weighed against the dowry price they might bring with them, now, there might be a possibility that she  might be weighed against the number of medals she might bring. Both these situations boil down to the same thing, putting a literal on the value of women. It’s not about the value of women but about the right to live which happens to be beyond all values and principles.

 Women are on a high because they ended a medal drought @Rio Olympics. Seizing this opportunity, the ministry of Women and child development is excitedly tweeting about #womenpowerinrio. Does this mean that if, in case, our daughters come back empty-handed from Olympics, their value suffers a dip and the initiatives like the Beti Bachao Beti Padhaao suffer setbacks? We need to keep the medals out of the equation.

A girl’s story of git, defiance and perseverance bring far more shine to these campaigns than any medal could. These women have surpassed way too many hurdles to get where they are today.

The biggest tribute that Indians can pay to the Dipa Karmakars, Sakshi Maliks and PV Sindhus is strive for a day when there would be no need of campaigns like Beti Bachaao Beti Padhaao and #Selfiewithdaughter. When every medal won at the Olympics would be just another medal won by just another Indian and not a cause for any special rejoicing just because of the fact that a woman has won it and, in turn, defied the sex ratios and achieved what a man could not. That would certainly be India’s biggest victory.

 

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