Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Olympics – The Chinese Way

Olympics Games 2008 had the perfect host in Beijing. The opening ceremony was just spectacular and the fireworks were done with Hollywood precision. I haven’t seen anything like this in my life or even in my dreams. It was just a treat for the eyes to watch those entire fireworks one after the other in perfect harmony.

Best Ever would be my comment on opening ceremony of Olympics Games 2008.

If anyone of you have missed the opening ceremony, you can watch it here.

As expected Chinese are sweeping the golds in most of the categories and have already taken the top position in the medal table. But underneath all those grand, splendid performances and gold medals, there are stories that need to be told. Stories that are sometimes not-so-pleasant and doesn’t get covered in the front pages of most of the press.

Last week, as most of the news channels were busy with their own bits about what’s happening inside China, I happen to see an interesting or rather a heartbreaking video in CNN-IBN.

Their story was about how China is getting all those gold medals or in other words at what cost are they manage to be in top spot. Remember this is a country where human-rights come right at the bottom of the priority list for the ruling communists.

The video was about training young athletes or Olympic prospects right from their childhood. Yes, childhood. I searched for the video in YouTube, but couldn’t find it.

The video shows how children as young as 3 or 4 years old are trained for international sporting events. Once selected for any international events, the state adopts the child and taken away to the training facilities, usually situated far away from his or her home town. Each adopted child’s family is provided some money by the Govt. as grant, I believe.

These children are not into sports because they love the games, but because they don’t have any other choice. They are sent to the training camps by their own parents, for whom the Govt. money is all what they looking for.

Any money will make a difference to the lives of the poor rural people who are completely left out of the economic boom that we see in Beijing or Shanghai. Moreover, the economic benefit of sending their children acts as an impetus for other parents to do the same thing.

In the video, young girls were going through brutal and awful training which need to be condemned. In one case, girls are asked to walk for 30 minutes on their bare hands. Yes, you heard it right. Even more, another girl child who was asked to do 60 sit-ups was crying out of pain during the so-called training.

This is not the case of one child, but the lives of thousands of other children who are going through the same misery for the sake of ruling elite’s arrogance.

I was very disturbed after watching the 4 year old crying. She is definitely not having fun doing all those training that her master wants her to do. For a child, to go through such an ordeal in that young age is really shocking. She lost her childhood even before she became a child!

There may be hundreds and thousands of children like her, who may have lost their childhood for Nation’s pride. For the political class, each one of those children shines like a medal prospect. So definitely more the better.

If you ask people about the best phase in their life, most of them will have one answer, childhood and it’s absolutely true.

It’s the time when you have lots of power and influence, but don’t have any responsibility.
It’s the time you are loved, looked after and gets all what you need.
It’s the time when you get all those new candies those are flocking your local stores.

She has lost all those moments and the saddest part is she will never know it, not in this life. Sad.

It just reminds me the value of certain things that we take granted for in our country.

May be we don’t have the perfect democracy in the world. (Well I believe, there is nothing called perfect in this universe)
May be we have a messy political system, where MPs are on sale like potato chips.
May be we have a corrupt bureaucracy, who consider taking bribes as their birth right.

May be we have bad roads, power failures and instant floods in the major cities.

But there is one thing that is going on right for the last 61 years, and that is Freedom.
Freedom to choose your own destiny and freedom to live the way you want.

During the last 61 years of our independence, there was only a small period when we were denied that freedom. Apart from that small aberration by Mrs. Gandhi during the late 70s, this country has never denied her citizens their basic rights. Let’s thank all those who have played a role in preserving this freedom.

The image of that girl crying while undergoing the brutal training leaves a lasting impression in our minds. An impression which we would love to forget.

Olympics will be over in couple of weeks from now. I sincerely hope that let Chinese top this year’s Olympic medal table. Not because they represent one fifth of humanity, but because each of their gold, silver and bronze medals stands for thousands of lost childhood like that of the crying girl. And I don’t want her lost childhood go waste.


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