Haryana’s youth lead the way to EverestMay 15th, 2011 - 12:40 pm ICT by IANS
Kathmandu, May 15 (IANS) After proving their mettle in the sporting arena, including bagging the lion’s share of medals at the New Delhi Commonwealth Games, men and women from Haryana, including a young couple, are now seeking to conquer the world’s highest peak. Nine of the 17 Indians individually attempting to scale the 8,848-metre summit hail from the state.”We were inspired by Mamata Sodha,” says Vikash Kaushik, a 24-year-old computer science student from Kurukshetra University who is among the nine Haryanvis trying their luck, skill and courage on the mountain that has already claimed three lives this season.
Mamata Sodha, a 28-year-old teacher, summited the peak last year and returned home in glory, asking people to “do something different”.
So Kaushik is now biding his opportunity on the freezing slope, hoping to do her bidding. And he is not alone. Accompanying him on the challenge is his wife Sushma, a 27-year-old constable with the Haryana Police serving in Panipat.
“We hope to do something different,” Kaushik told IANS. “We hope to become the youngest couple to summit Mt. Everest together.”
The first married couple to scale Mt. Everest together were Slovenians Andrej and Mariga Stremfelj, who summited in 1990. Eight years later, the peak took the lives of a climbing couple, American Francys Arsentiev and her husband Serguei.
Though Nepali girl Moni Mulepati and her husband Pem Dorje Sherpa were younger than the Kaushiks when they summited Mt. Everest in 2005, the Haryana couple can still claim the record technically since Mulepati and Sherpa were not married when they went up.
The pair exchanged vows only on the summit and then had a formal wedding ceremony after they came down.
The Vikash-Sushma pair also projects a refreshingly different image of Haryana and, indeed, India - she is the older partner and is the bread-earner while he is still a student. The 11-member second Eco Everest Expedition, of which the Kaushiks are members, has three more aspirants from Haryana, including a woman, 26-year-old Sunita Singh Chokan.
Also attempting the climb is a third woman from Haryana - Richa Sheokand, 25, who is part of the international expedition that saw Tine Mena, the first woman from India’s northeast, summit this week.
The Haryana boom is also being attributed to the generous patronage that Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda’s government has shown to athletes.
“Mamata was promoted to the rank of deputy police superintendent after she summited Mt. Everest,” says Captain Sanjiv Vajpai, father of Arjun Vajpai, the New Delhi schoolboy who created history last year when he summited Mt. Everest at the age of 16, thereby becoming the youngest Indian to achieve the feat.
“Unlike the New Delhi government which took no cognizance of Arjun’s ascent, Hooda offered him further support with future expeditions - if he would care to relocate to Haryana,” Vajpai told IANS.
(Sudeshna Sarkar can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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