By Vijay Phanshikar:
AGAINST the reality of India’s seven medals at Tokyo Olympic Games, the city of Nagpur presents a rather dismal picture on the sports infrastructure front. Last week, ‘The Hitavada’ had published a photo-feature on the abominable conditions of the playing arena at the Yashwant Stadium. Each of those pictures showed the ground covered with knee-high green grass on which no game could be played. Yes, an apology of a running track was visible in the picture, on which a few sportspersons could be seen jogging or walking. But the entire feel of the place was that of utter disarray and disappointment. A few months ago, ‘The Hitavada’ also ran a series of photo-features showing several badly kept playgrounds and parks in various localities across the landscape -- again and again insisting that their upkeep and safety from undesirable elements should be a priority of the civic administration.
All that effort -- not just of ‘The Hitavada’ but also of other newspapers in the city -- has gone waste. For, the civic authorities have refused to emerge from their slumber. That is simply because there is nobody to accost them at every road-crossing and street corner. Of course, just accosting them would serve no purpose. What these people in civic administration or political ward members need to be dealt with is a rougher than polite questions -- in a naive expectation that would shake them out of slumber, though that, too, may not serve any concrete purpose. For, even sharper questions may not penetrate through their thick and shameless skins. Several questions should be asked to all these ladies and gentlemen working in the civic establishment in this or that capacity. True, all of them deserve respect from the people all right. But they also need to be made accountable for their sins of commission and omission.
The loosefooter has often raised uncomfortable questions in this column and in ‘The Hitavada’ in different manners. In some cases, the civic authorities do respond quickly and effect correction of a malady. But that happens only occasionally -- when the common people consider themselves fortunate to have been heard. Otherwise, the picture is dismal. And it appears all the more dismal in the case of playgrounds and parks and open spaces where sporting activity is expected in full measure. Against the background of Khelo India, this local apathy comes as if the civic administration is mocking at that man who jumps out of his skin to welcome sports as a matter of a necessary national engagement -- the honourable Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi.