Bowed by poverty, archer gets minister cash salve - Medal in Bangkok & run-down mud hut in Bundu, the paradox of a player forced to sell her gear

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  • Published 29.05.12

Ranchi, May 28: Spotlight for some, shadows for others.

While ace archer Deepika Kumar gets her richly deserved awards, Bangkok Grand Prix medallist Nisha Rani Dutta has to sell off her imported bow to survive.

But this time, at least, the government is making amends, thanks to efforts by Union sports and youth affairs minister Ajay Maken.

The Union minister, after getting reports that 21-year-old Nisha had to sell off her archery equipment last year due to abject poverty, took the onus to arrange for her a grant of Rs 5 lakh.

The farmer’s daughter sold off her bow — “it was a gift from my South Korean coach” — to get ready cash for repairing her mud house in Naxalite pocket Bundu, 45km from Ranchi, will get the minister’s cheque tomorrow.

“We will hand over her cheque tomorrow in Ranchi during a function at Sports Authority of India’s Special Area Games Centre. The cheque has been granted by the Union sports and youth affairs minister’s office,” Shushil Kumar Verma, state co-ordinator (Jharkhand) and centre in-charge of Sports Authority of India’s Special Area Games (SAI-SAG) Centre, Ranchi, said.

Early last month, the indigent archer had also received Rs 25,000 from Jharkhand deputy chief minister Sudesh Mahto.

He gave her the cheque on behalf of Goonj, the cultural outfit that he has founded.

Nisha has had a promising career as an international archer.

She won a team gold in South Asian Archery Championship, 2008, in Jamshedpur; a silver for an individual event at the same tourney; a team (senior) bronze in Asian Grand Prix, 2008, in Bangkok; and a team (senior) silver in Asian Championship, 2007, in Taiwan.

Like Deepika, who is a little younger than her, Nisha is also a Tata Archery Academy cadet, inducted in 2005 after a rigorous three-month trial. She just completed her graduation from Worker’s College, Jamshedpur.

In September 2010, Nisha attended the selection trials called by South East Central Railway in Bilaspur, Madhya Pradesh.

But then came a lull and the grind of survival. With two sisters married, the responsibility of her elderly parents fell on her. Archery took a back seat.

“I am extremely grateful to the Union minister. The cheque is like a miracle,” Nishi told The Telegraph from Jamshedpur.

Archery is still her first love. “I will buy new equipment and I want to keep on playing for my state and my country,” she said.

But she also needs a regular income. “I want to pursue a course from a reputable institute to hone my skills as a coach,” she said. “And above all, I need a job for financial security,” she added frankly.

The Netaji Subhas National Institute of Sports, Patiala, is one of the cradles where Nisha can learn to finer tips of coaching aspiring archers.

Is anyone listening?