Success has many fathers, failure is an orphan. No one knows this better than Indian sportsmen, who, as one columnist aptly put, should get Olympic medals for just putting up with the country’s incapable and overbearing sports officials. The politicians are no better. Soon after badminton champion PV Sindhu won a silver medal in the Rio Olympics, a tussle erupted between Telangana and Andhra Pradesh over which state she belongs to. Many people and politicians in Telangana claimed Sindhu is their pride because she was born and brought up in Hyderabad and her father is from Telangana. Those from neighbouring Andhra Pradesh - which shares Hyderabad as capital till 2024 - countered that claim, saying that her mother is from Vijayawada. Then there were those who seemed to know the family’s history of relocations: They said her parents migrated to Hyderabad even before she was born and that she is a “typical” Hyderabadi. Other reports suggested that a large number of people were googling her caste when she was playing the finals.
This tendency of putting some kind of a tag on winners is wrong. Soon after Sakshi Malik won bronze in wrestling, people including senior political leaders started calling her “India’s daughter” and we were even reminded helpfully that victory came on the auspicious day of raksha bandhan. Some saluted the “woman, the athlete and the Indian” in her when all we should have been celebrating her success as an Indian champ. Even in her moment of glory, we selfishly did not forget to appropriate her success by force-pasting some ludicrous patriarchal label on her forehead.
Coming back to PV Sindhu, it is also sad to see that when it came to giving her cash prizes for her stupendous achievement, the two states tried to outdo each other just to prove her state lineage, as if she will opt for the state which gives her more money. The announcement of cash bonuses for both PV Sindhu and coach P Gopichand should have be made in a civil and sophisticated manner befitting a champion who deserves every bit of it. Both Telangana and Andhra Pradesh should stop playing such petty regional games over the badminton star and accept that she does not belong to any state/region/caste/linguistic group. PV Sindhu, Dipa Karmakar and Sakshi Malik don’t belong to any one particular state anymore; they are jewels in India’s crown.