Post-Asiad, Indian boxer Sarita Devi faced suspension back home, leave alone international humiliation at ASIAD 2014, with nobody but the public sympathising her, while the conservative bureaucracy sought to take shelter under the rulebook than reality.
Finally, it took another sports hero of the country Sachin Tendulkar, who is also a member of parliament, to come out in her support and dash off a strong letter to the Sports Minister urging him to intervene and ensure that her career is not capped now itself.
Sarita Devi, who lost in the semifinals of the women’s lightweight (60kg) competition at Incheon, South Korea, in September, due to the controversial decision of the referee, refused to bend down to accept the medal to be placed over her neck. When it was placed finally, she suddenly took it out and put it on the neck of Park Ji-Na, who was declared the winner.
It was an emotional outburst and the time has taught every Indian the nuances associated with sports decisions, many times in favour of the host nation, and this time in favour of South Korea.
Coming out in her support, perhaps the first sports personality to see the reason behind her emotional outburst, Sachin Tendulkar said being a sportsman he could understand the turmoil in her.
In a letter to Sports Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, on November 15, the cricket legend and Bharat Ratna recipient said he is moved by the reports that Sarita Devi would face ban rest of her career. He shot the letter saying, "I would urge you to kindly look into this issue urgently and ensure that she is given competent support so that her career is not threatened and ends in a premature manner."
With his open stand against any punishment to Sarita Devi, Sachin Tendulkar has taken cudgels against the AIBA, which has openly announced that it would punish her for her impromptu action.
But the whole nation was watching the incident when it took place and where were the Sports Ministry officials at that time? Why not the Sports Minister punish them for the dereliction of duty? Why did they fail to counsel her and make her see the reason? Most of these officials see the global events as junkets to hop along and it should end.
At least now is the time to overhaul the entire sports ministry of the country, removing vetrans who thrive on egos rather than love for the sports.