November 09, 2016: 

 Gender equality is still an issue, even after sixty nine years of independence women are seen at a lower ebb to their male counterparts.
The victory of women against all odds in this Rio Olympics is an answer to those leisure seeking class who criticized the athletes since beginning.
Their victories will surely dent the barricades that lie in front of a progressive society.
The battle in face of adversity is a romantic metaphor for the struggles women have to face in every sphere of life in India. The limits placed on them by patriarchal notions serve to distance them from the sporting arena.

Gender equality seems questionable in a modern society which has undergone series of changes in all walks of life , be it administration, lifestyle, education, economy, sports etc. In spite of such progression, prejudice is a fore lone practice prevailing in Indian society. Gender equality is still an issue. When it comes to women, everything seems to be in a backlog or at least backed by less enthusiasm. Even after sixty nine years of independence female counterpart is always seen in a lower ebb to their male counterpart. Sports is also not left behind in discriminating against women. So definitely its a questionable modernity.

In order to understand this thoroughly, let’s grab a look at the recent Rio Olympics this summer. The gloomy start of this journey was turned into an glorifying end with the hardened effort of a few brave women, who created their own milestones. It’s an occasion to rejoice, because a country which believes in female feticide and gender discrimination and still has a patriarchal notion about women’s attitude, garments etc.- where ministers try to cover up molestation by casually putting the statement ‘boys will be boys.’

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It is a victory against those leisure seeking class who claim Indian participants as a mere selfie clicking, fun loving people who has no intention of bringing  a medal. They forget that all these athletes are from humble background. They are raised in India’s parched fields, in drought prone cities that are so alienated from the mainstream that we rarely hear when people die out of hunger and thirst. Some rose from the abject poverty, in families where the only bread winner was a rickshaw puller. And some survived societies like kill girls before birth.

Deepa Karmakar, first female gymnast at Olympics, became the first Indian across both genders, to reach finals in gymnastics this summer games. Deepa performed the Produnova vault at the Olympics, where she completely relied on her guts. It is a high risk maneuver that just one more is willing to try at Rio for a medal. This risky vault guarantees them seven points because of the difficulty involved.

This risk involvement generates a question whether she would have undertaken such a style if she had access to quality coaching, equipment, social and government support. As of any sensible individual, the answer has to be no. in fact Indian system is not meant to produce athletes. It takes an irrational dedication and courage just like Deepa to get ahead in competition.

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The success of Deepa, P.V Sindhu, Sakshi Mallik is remarkable because they stand out with their heads high in an oppressive society for women. Their battle is also against a disheartening history in sports for the country. The battle in face of adversity is a romantic metaphor for the struggles women have to face in every sphere of life in India. The limits placed on them by patriarchal notions serve to distance them from the sporting arena. Evidence of sporting personalities transforming social life is however rare. These victories will surely dent the barricades that lie in front of a progressive society.

Cambridge University conducted a recent study on media and women sports which showed that female athlete are often not given the due credit they deserve. Their achievements are underplayed and infantilizing language are used to refer to them.  Even when they get the attention it is more for their appearance, clothing and other sexualized images rather than their on-field exploits.

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Prime Minister’s acknowledgement of the athletes as India’s Daughter came only after their exceptional achievements at the games and not at their participation. This accomplishes the fact that Indian women can only get recognition as an Indian daughter when they reveal their excellence and their status before that is mere of an insignificance or in worst of the scenario, a burden.

– by Saptaparni Goon of NewsGram. Twitter: @saptaparni_goon

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