Sushil, my father deserve highest honour: first bronze winner’s sonAugust 20th, 2008 - 7:31 pm ICT by IANS
Mumbai, Aug 20 (IANS) “Sushil Kumar deserves the highest accolades for his achievement. This is also the time for the government to consider an honour like Bharat Ratna for Khashaba Dadasaheb Jadhav, who had bagged India’s first individual Olympic bronze medal way back in 1952,” says Ranjit Jadhav, the son of the late Olympian.Ranjit, 36, demanded that the Indian government and concerned sports authorities consider his father’s contribution to sports by securing independent India’s first individual Olympic medal against all odds, by giving him the country’s top civilian honour posthumously and erecting a monument or naming a major sports body after him.
Ranjit - who has set up the “K.D.Jadhav Memorial Wrestling Foundation” in 2003 - said that it is striving to train wrestlers and the target is an individual gold in the sport by the 2012 Olympics.
Ranjit, a businessman-cum-farmer tending to farms in western Maharashtra’s Karad district, said that big corporate houses like the Mittals and Tatas should also look at individuals like him dedicated to nurturing sports talent, who continue to struggle for resources.
The late K. D. Jadhav had bagged the medal at the Helsinki Olympics in 1952, after a failed attempt in the 1948 London Olympics. In order to participate in the event, he begged door-to-door for contributions for his travel, lodging and boarding expenses.
The officialdom did not help then either. When he had approached the then chief minister of Bombay state, the late Morarji Desai for financial help, he was told to “come back” after the Olympics, Ranjit pointed out.
Later, when K.D. Jadhav returned with the medal, the same Morarji Desai - who later became India’s prime minister - had publicly garlanded him, said Ranjit.
Ranjit recalled that despite bagging the medal, his father remained jobless for almost three years and tended to their small farm in Goleshwar village in Karad district, in the sugar belt of western Maharashtra.
In 1955, the then Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Narayanrao Kamte was touring the region when some villagers told him about K.D. Jadhav’s plight.
Kamte arranged to get the Olympic medallist with a postgraduate degree in law a job as a police sub-inspector on a salary of Rs.150 (almost $4) per month.
Jadhav retired as Assistant Commissioner of Police in Mumbai in 1983. It was his first and last promotion in the police career, said Ranjit bitterly.
“As per the pay scales then, my father’s last salary was Rs.1,783 (nearly $45) per month. All his other dues, including provident fund, came to Rs.75,000, which he invested to lay water pipeline in our ancestral farms,” said Ranjit. He was barely 11 at that time.
K.D. Jadhav took a loan of Rs.20,000 from the Bank of Karad to build a brick and mortar home in his village. While the construction work was in the final stages, he had an accident and succumbed to his injuries on Aug 14, 1984.
“Our financial condition was so bad that an amount of Rs.5,000, unspent on the house, had to be utilized for his final rites,” Ranjit said.
His wife, Kusum, looked after their only son Ranjit until her death in 2006.
The first official recognition for K.D. Jadhav’s historic individual achievement came 10 years later - when he was awarded the Shiv Chhatrapati Award.
Ranjit said that though persons like Leander Paes (Bronze at 1996 Atlanta Olympics), Abhinav Bindra (Gold at 2008 Beijing Olympics) and Sushil Kumar (Bronze at 2008 Beijing Olympics) are outstanding, they pale in comparison to the sheer efforts behind his father’s quest for a medal.
“There was no sponsorship, no official help. Villagers helped with small individual contributions. There was no professional coaching or a diet regimen. They lived and travelled under pathetic conditions. Communications were poor. This is the right time for the government to consider a major honour for K.D. Jadhav,” he urged.
Speaking about wrestling in Maharashtra, he said that it was popular in most villages but Kolhapur, Pune and Amravati were the biggest centres. “Unfortunately, our wrestlers only aim for the ‘Maharashtra Kesri’ award. They do not even aim at “Rustom-E-Hind’, the country’s top award in this sport. The Commonwealth or Olympics are too distant for them,” Ranjit said.
He said the people and the system must “come out” of the mindset and set high targets if they want big achievements, and the the authorities must immediately honour the achievers. “Don’t wait for them to die in penury or honour them posthumously.”
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