September 12, 2021

NPRD Congratulates Indian Contingent At Tokyo Paralympics

THE National Platform for the Rights of the Disabled (NPRD), in a statement issued on September 5, has congratulated the entire contingent which represented India at the Tokyo Paralympics. The spectacular performance by this team winning an unprecedented 19 medals has brought laurels to the country. They deserve fulsome praise, recognition and honour.

The success of these athletes becomes all the more significant given the pathetic state of para sports in our country. The fact that many of these athletes come from humble backgrounds and have had to wage struggles against all odds and barriers including stigma and discrimination, has also to be factored in while appreciating their achievements.

They have had to battle against poor sports infrastructure, the grossly inadequate public funding for para-sports and the pernicious grip of political-bureaucratic nexus over the bodies that govern them. On top of it is the woefully inadequate support from the government and sports bodies let alone the corporate sector.

Unfortunately, one of the medal winners was disqualified owing to a wrong classification. Such laxity cannot be condoned. In an earlier instance a female athlete had to get an order from the Madras High Court to let her participate in the Fourth World Deaf Championship at Lublin, Poland in August 2021.

The Paralympic Committee of India has faced suspension from the international body in the past for a variety of reasons. Even the conduct of the national meet prior to the Tokyo event was shrouded with allegations, with a last-minute change in the venue from Chennai to Bengaluru.

Allegations of corruption in these sports bodies are rampant. They need to be overhauled, their functioning democratised and delinked from political patronage. There is a need to come out with comprehensive guidelines and enforcement mandates for para sports in harmony with the UNCRPD and the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act. This should be backed by adequate allocations and ensuring parity with other sports.

Only such an approach can guarantee that the momentum generated at Rio and carried forward at Tokyo will scale new heights.