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Story of Shera a metaphor for India

india Updated: Oct 16, 2010 00:33 IST
Pradeep Magazine
Pradeep Magazine
Hindustan Times
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For days together, he was the symbol of the Games. He was masked in yellow, wearing the face of a tiger, enthralling crowds and creating awareness about the Games which ended as spectacularly as it had begun a fortnight ago.

Unlike Shera, most of the athletes did not need to wear masks and neither did they have to hide their faces as they went on a gold-hunt, the likes of which India has never seen before. India is proud of them and they are proud to be Indians.

The story of the Commonwealth Games is the story of a country which is an aspiring global power, whose economic growth rate is now the envy of the world. It is a story of a country which, by successfully organizing a mega sporting event and by crossing a century of medals, has shown that it has arrived on the world stage with a bang.

For the time being, no one is talking about the crores being swindled in the name of the Games and nobody is talking about the long-term cost benefits, either to the country or to sports in the country.

Satish Bidla, the man behind the Shera mask is thrilled and excited that he has, by sheer chance, been catapulted onto a larger canvas where his presence and endearing gestures created the mood of conviviality which contributed to the success of the event.

Unfortunately for us, when shorn of his mask, Shera represents the story of another India, which is not a beneficiary of the great growth story of his country. He has become unemployed as he was before he became our "darling Shera". Happy as he is for having done something for his country, he is now going to hunt for a living once again and is hopeful that his humble contribution to making the Games a success would translate into something more meaningful for him.

Shera is not alone in hoping for better days ahead. He shares this dream with hundreds of sportspersons who have braved all odds - poverty at home, systematic apathy and lack of facilities - to represent India. Most of them come from villages, small towns and struggle for a living. That some of them manage to break this vicious cycle and go on to become symbols of our "pride" is nothing short of miraculous, be it Gita, the wrestler, or Prajusha, the athlete.

They all remind us of that India which is ranked 67th on the world hunger index and 40 percent of whose population (one can quibble over the numbers) lives below the poverty line.

As Delhi dressed itself in shimmering gold to give its citizens world-class facilities and India flaunted its rich heritage, culture and wealth to the world, the story of Shera is a metaphor for India.

All you need to do is to scratch the surface.

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