Commonwealth Games: Reminders of North East
The first Gold of the 2006 Commonwealth Games for India was won by N. Kunjarani Devi. Kunjarani hails from Manipur, one of the smallest states of India, one of our seven sisters. She is just one of a strong lineup of (non-cricketing) Indian sportspersons the North East has given to the country.
Pemba Tamang too hails from the same state as Kunjarani, and has won India gold as well. There is a long line of sportsperson from the NE. Bhaichung Bhutia, India football’s poster boy, hails from Sikkim. So does Tomba Singh, another Indian footballer. Half of last commonwealth games’ gold winning Indian women’s Hockey team was from the North East.
If we look at our contingent of athletes to any international sporting event, one generally sees a lot of faces from the North East. Considering the size of the North East, these athletes have brought India more than their proportionate share of glory in the international arena. However, until the time they win medals at such events, the North East is generally absent from the national consciousness. Some people consider the commonwealth games as just a part of the colonial hangover. However the games hold much more importance, more so with India and its diversity.
Why is it that so many sportspersons emerge from the North East? Yes, the difficult mountain life makes them hardier, but that’s not the only reason.
While the rest of India looks at education to provide them with a better means of livelihood, sports are considered as the manna in the North East. Now considering the deplorable condition of non-cricketing sports and sportsmen in India, one wonders if it’s the right choice. Well, this is just an indicator of how living conditions are in the North East.
The North East is suffering from acute neglect by the nation, and this has given rise to insurgency. Just take a look at the fierce pride on the face of Kunjarani Devi while saluting the national anthem. Can one believe that her state is suffering from secessionist militancy?