The Indian tricolor is flying high far away in Finland courtesy Hima Das. The 18-year old girl from Assam has created history by winning Gold in the 400 metre race at the World u20 Athletics Championship. Hima is the first athlete from India to win Gold at a world championship. Before Hima, no Indian athlete could win medals in any track event at a world championship.
Hima has made every northeasterner proud. Apart from her Gold winning performance, what touched our hearts were the tears in her eyes when the Indian National Anthem was being played. Hima hails from Nagaon district of Assam. Some people have marked the district and its adjacent areas ‘notorious’ for anti-Indian sentiments and unabated infiltration from across the international border. But Hima’s tears have proved beyond doubt that every northeasterner is ready to live or die for India. The northeasterners are as patriotic as others. From the struggle for Independence to the Kargil conflict, the northeasterners have sacrificed their lives to protect the unity and integrity of the country. It is a different story though that most of the time the sacrifices made by the people of the region have gone unnoticed.
One can only hope that the historic achievement of Hima would be noticed by all. It should not stop at sending her congratulatory messages. Efforts should be made to sharpen her talent and turn her in to a true champion. The government of India has already announced taking Hima under its wings for the next Olympics. The Assam government has also announced a cash reward of INR 50 lakh for the ‘Golden Girl.’ A more important thing than all the promises would be to ensure the best of training facilities for her. Everyone knows that there is no dearth of talent in our country. But even after making grand entries they go into oblivion as they do not get proper training facilities. The fact is that India does not have world class coaches and proper infrastructure for training, talent or not. To make Hima a champion and enable her to compete with world-class athletes, she should be sent abroad without delay.
Kunjarani Devi, Mary Kom, Sanamacha Chanu, L Sarita, Deepa Karmakar, and now Hima, the list of northeastern sportspersons bringing laurels to India seems to be unending. Apart from Haryana, no other state in India can boast of having presented the nation with that much of sporting talent. It is now time to make the Northeast the sporting hub of the country. Spotters should be sent even to the remotest areas of the region to scout for talent. It is bound to yield good dividends as India is certain to get many more champions from the region. How rich the talent pool of the Northeast can be judged from the fact that when Hima first made a mark at the state level, she didn’t even train for a day under any qualified athletics coach. Like Hima, there are many others who despite having talent do not get opportunities to demonstrate their skill at proper forums and make the country proud. Plug the gap and our endless wait for champions will come to an end for sure. Bravo to Hima for showing us the path.