Proud of daughters, this country has always shown that simplicity, contentment, hard work, resolute determination, lion hearted spirit to fight back and showing enviable results have been some of the chief characteristics of its ancient civilization which continues to flourish even at times under trying circumstances. Jhansi Ki Rani, Dida – the great, of Kashmir (also known “Dida the terror” by contemporary enemies of the country) and numerous women of this great country have left an indelible imprint on the pages of golden history of this country in various fields. Yashomati, was the first Kashmiri woman ruler of Kashmir and for that matter, probably the first woman ruler in the entire world as back as more than five thousand years during the time of Mahabharta. There are numerous such instances whereby daughters of India have made us feel proud and given us reason to keep our head high. Space constraints inhibit enumerating more about that as of now.
The theme of the column got changed from a pressing and pulsating political topic which this writer had chosen, to the one under reference, when unbelievably, we heard about a girl in her late teens creating history of sorts, an impeccable feat, by winning first ever gold at a world track event . She is Hima Das, 18 years of age from a remote village in Assam who swept past the stiff competition with “ridiculous ease” . She herself broke the sensational news first to her father by saying, “While you all were sleeping, I rocked the world”. The World class athlete (now) ran like a fast gusting wind to claim coveted gold in the 400 meter race at the IAAF World U 20 meet in Finland. She has now rightfully claimed the pedestal of the new poster girl of Indian sports. Hima gave the country a breakthrough in a track event and has given a beacon of hope to us of for the prestigious Olympics.
Tears roll down very often in grief and distress but tears also roll down , though rarely, on such occasions when there is extreme happiness and joy which just explode unexpectedly before you and results in a pleasant “shock”, hence Hima holding tricolor became emotional and her tears spontaneously rolled down while standing on the podium proudly singing the National Anthem. Prime Minister Modi said, “Her getting emotional touched me deeply, I was extremely moved; which Indian won’t have tears of joy seeing this.”
Having been from humble beginnings and very much part of muddy and marshy paddy fields of Dhing village , water plough-ing oxen, paddy field terraces , sowing, harvesting, winnowing , braving rains, hard work ,living village rustic life and helping her family in rice growing , Hima, the exuberant girl was fond of playing football with village children and would ensure that the team she was in, necessarily won and was always claiming the prized money of an amount ranging between Rs.100 to Rs.200 . It is here she was putting in her best, not to let the ball go away from her gaze for which she had continuously to run and run fast. It is here that her playing football sessions became riveting and Hima would appear, in her own right, as a symbol of resilience and with unique ingenuity.
Hima, also known as” Dhing Express” is not only a world class athlete but she is blessed with those distinctive attributes which normally a girl of her age would never be interested in . She has to her credit leading a peaceful movement in demolishing country liquor vends in her village and its neighbourhood. It is not that such daring activities aimed at social reform in whatever small form in her village Dhing in Assam are attributed to her , now, because she has emerged on the world canvas but all in the village are proud of this girl as she is reported to be never afraid or scared of speaking against any injustice or illegal things and was a role model for them.
President Ram Nath Kovind, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, West Bengal CM Mamta Banerjee, Bihar CM Nitish Kumar, Congress President Rahul Gandhi, Akhilesh Yadav and others congratulated Hima Das, the feisty girl for her sensational victory in world U 20 Championship. Several celebrities and sports persons too have joyously celebrated the moment and congratulated Hima . The Assam Chief Minister has announced a reward of Rs.50 lac for Hima for her historic feat and doing proud to the country.
It is heartening to note that the Government has decided to extend “end to end” support towards her preparation for 2020 Tokyo Olympics under the Government’s “Target Olympic Podium Scheme”. With her win in Finland, Hima is second only to star javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra who won a gold in Poland in 2016 in a world record effort. Her coach Nipon Das has not only worked hard in training Hima but has motivated her parents to allow her move out of Dhing to Gowahati for extensive practice and training, the cost of which could not be afforded by her family but with intent not to leave a gem unpolished, Nipon and another coach jointly funded her boarding and lodging expenses. The results are before us all. Hima’s case is unique in that without the support of politicians and any political party, but just a coach or two , those who saw a bright spark of talent in her, could succeed in bringing Hima out from an Indian village to show her talent in a distant country and emerge at the top.
It is high time we eschewed and evaded the cynical mindset, if any, in respect of nursing doubts that this country lagged behind any in the world in possession of abundant talent. This was proved, besides in many fields, in the area of cricket that we did not have pace bowlers and speedsters of international quality or that we had dearth of all rounder (s). We have been having both and in abundance now for over a decade and a half. The need of the hour is to move from the high pitch obsession about cricket and cricket only and invest our interest in and have our all out attention towards other games and sports , those which matter on the world scene.
Hockey, in which we excelled, having seen proudly Indian legends like the great Dyan Chand and others like Balbir Singh, Udham Singh, Laslie Claudius, Dhanraj Pillay and the like , has been grossly neglected by successive Indian governments as also by most of the people who prefer to see nothing beyond the Royal, expensive, time consuming and too much cricket . Football is a virtual casualty in our country and we could learn a lot from a tiny country of just 41 lac , known as Croatia. A country blessed with rivers, lakes etc as we are, cannot produce even one swimming sensation at the Olympics like Michael Phelp and others , denotes only callous and indifferent attitude of the successive Governments towards promotion of swimming in the country. The young talent especially the women shall get lot of inspiration from the wonder girl Hima and many could aspire to do what the village girl from Assam did recently for the country. Hima, the daughter of India will surely become a role model for many more daughters of India in the near future.