If you want to know how some of India’s top sportspersons are treated, look no further than the country's premier sports institution, the National Institute of Sport (NIS), Patiala. Renu Gora is an international woman boxer and a bronze medallist at the 2006 World Boxing Championship in Delhi, currently studying at NIS to become a coach.
On Thursday, however, she was not in class but serving as a maid, waitress and cleaning lady, all rolled into one. Balancing teacups in one hand and a plateful of snacks in the other, Renu, on official duty, served the visiting officials. Mediapersons who arrived were also were offered refreshments by Renu and Monika, another upcoming woman boxer.
The serving over, Renu and Monika proceeded to the kitchen to wash used cups and utensils.
"I have to follow sir's command, even if it means serving visitors," said Renu, reigning national champion in the 70 kg category and an Asian Championship silver-medallist last year. "If you ask me, I don’t like it one bit but I cannot afford to disobey my seniors.”
Talking to the Hindustan Times from Bhopal, the chief women’s national coach, Anoop Kumar, was aghast. “This is absolutely unethical. These girls are supposed to be studying in Patiala. They cannot be asked to serve tea and snacks. This is just not done.”
But Renu doesn’t expect much. “When I won the bronze in 2006, I was promised a job in the Railways,” she said. “Nothing materialised. Jobless for more than a year, I decided to pursue a one-year coaching course here.”