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A long way to go for women in sports: Saina Nehwal

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New Delhi: Sania Mirza’s latest Grand Slam triumph at Wimbledon is a testament to what Indian women are capable of achieving, but there is a long way to go before change sets in for most women who wish to take up sports as a profession in this country, feels badminton ace Saina Nehwal.

In the past few years, the likes of Sania, Dipika Pallikal (squash), Saina, Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa (all badminton) have done India proud with their unprecedented feats.

Picture from www.speakingtree.in
Picture from www.speakingtree.in

However, World No.2 Saina admits that despite the global success of Indian women in sports, there is a lack of enthusiasm for sports education for girls in the country.

“Changes are happening and girls continue to outperform and excel in life, but there is still a long way to go when it comes to sports. Women are traditionally not encouraged to indulge in sports,” Saina told IANS in an email interaction on her association with Microsoft’s #MakeItHappen campaign.

As part of the campaign, she has motivated Indian youth to follow their dreams – via a video titled “Umeedein” – and shows sports being brought into an all-girls school.

“Apart from being a relevant topic, it is close to my heart and one that has the potential of giving this country many more proud moments,” said Saina, who brought home the first and only Olympic medal for India in badminton.

“The video carries a message for the Indian youth to follow their dreams. I wanted to communicate to parents and stakeholders to let girls experiment and give them freedom of choice so that they can opt for the best possible career for them,” she said of the initiative.

The Hyderabadi also stressed while “female education is something everyone can get enthused about, but when it comes to girls taking up sports as a profession, that enthusiasm vanishes”.

Photo from naidunia.jagran.com AFP PHOTO/ MANAN VATSYAYANA
Photo from naidunia.jagran.com
AFP PHOTO/ MANAN VATSYAYANA

“One of the reasons is the assumption that sports cannot be a profession for girls and that it distracts them from doing well at studies. In my experience, I have met a lot of girls who are equally interested in sports but lack a proper direction to take their interest forward,” said the 25-year-old.

“They are still being pushed to do well at studies and try and build a career in professions ‘perceived’ as made for girls. People, especially, from tier-II and tier-III towns are often disadvantaged as they do not get as many opportunities as people from the metros. We need good sports people who can make our country proud.”

Saina’s said her professional entry into the sport was by chance.

“I was spotted by coach P.S.S. Nani Prasad Rao in Hyderabad. He agreed to take me under his wing as a trainee at the Sports Authority of Andhra Pradesh (SAAP) summer camp in 1999. I have been fortunate to have always got encouragement and support. I was spotted while playing at school. Hence, I am a big believer of encouraging girls to take up sports,” she said, adding that there’s no ideal age for sports education.

Saina also hopes her story, “among other stories of success, can help bring about a nationwide change in the mindset of people who still go by old perceptions”.

(IANS)

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Jaipur Literature Festival Takes A Questionable Stand On The #MeToo Movement

JLF's fast spreading presence in the international arena, calls for a more substantial stand on its part, as far as #MeToo is concerned.

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The hushed whispers are getting louder. Flickr

After several star speakers of the Zee Jaipur Literature Festival, including C.P. Surendran, Suhel Seth and Chetan Bhagat, among others, have been accused of sexually harassing multiple women, on the sidelines of the popular lit fest, the organisers, in a cautiously worded one-sentence tweet on Thursday, have supported the rising tide of the #MeToo campaign in India — but questions still remain.

“The ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival unequivocally stands by the women who have courageously spoken out for equity and dignity and is committed to supporting and amplifying their voices,” the official handle of the JLF said in a tweet on Thursday.

The statement came two days after a petition was started on www.change.org by writer-editor Rajni George, asking its organisers to support the #MeToo India and stand up “against sexual harassment”.

#MeToo
Jaipur Literature Festival

“We write today regarding the serious and credible allegations of sexual harassment made recently against a number of men in and around the literary world, as part of the MeToo movement in India.

“We, the undersigned, are dismayed, saddened and angered by these accounts. We admire the work that the Jaipur Literature Festival (JLF) undertakes. As India’s largest and most recognised literature festival, we believe JLF is ideally placed to take the lead in addressing this urgent issue,” George’s petition said.

JLF’s response in the one-line tweet is general, and does not specifically mention whether any of the allegations that have now surfaced were earlier brought to the notice of the organisers.

It also does not make it clear whether the doors of the festival will remain closed for the accused in its future editions, or not. It further makes no comment whatsoever on several instances that are said to have taken place on the sidelines of the annual event.

#MeToo
Sanjoy K. Roy, with writers Namita Gokhale and William Dalrymple as co-directors, has been instrumental in bringing societal issues to the fore.

Notably, many of the accused have featured in prominent sessions at what is described as the “greatest literary show on Earth”, and, in many instances, the festival has been instrumental in increasing their popularity as well as readership.

On its part, JLF, produced by Teamwork Arts, headed by Sanjoy K. Roy, and with writers Namita Gokhale and William Dalrymple as co-directors, has been instrumental in bringing societal issues to the fore. In fact, the 2018 edition of the festival in January this year had come to a close with a hard-hitting debate on #MeToo, long before the campaign gained momentum in India.

Also Read: Watch Jaipur Literature Festival Live On Twitter

Many in the literary circles feel the benchmark that JLF has itself set over the course of its journey, its coming of age and gradual but distinct shift from controversies to substance in the recent years, its fast spreading presence in the international arena, calls for a more substantial stand on its part, as far as #MeToo is concerned. (IANS)