Indian athletes display compassionate side during lockdown

The nation’s top sportspersons have been actively involved in doing their best to help out the less privileged.

By Rahul Venkat

As India continues to feel the effects of the lockdown, now in its third phase amid the coronavirus pandemic, Indian athletes continue to step up and help those in need.

Sania Mirza and PV Sindhu have worked to raise funds for relief while some have done sanitisation drives in their villages.

A few have taken up policing duties, while many other Indian athletes have taken to the streets to provide supplies and essential items and found their own way to help.

Distributing food to daily wagers

Indian table tennis ace Achanta Sharath Kamal donated rice and vegetables to essential workers on Labour Day last week. The Chennai paddler was inspired by his father, who had also distributed some dry ration.

Ace Indian sprinter Dutee Chand, took the initiative to receive delivery of groceries and sanitary pads from her alma mater, the Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology (KIIT) and distributed it in her village in Odisha.

“This lockdown has hit the people hard in my village and I just wanted to help them in whatever small way I could. So, I took special passes to distribute food packets to around 1,000 people,” she told the Press Trust of India.

“The older people among the villagers gave me blessings to bring a medal in the Olympics,” said Dutee Chand, who spent a considerable amount from her own pocket for the aid.

Interestingly, 25-year-old Moldovan tennis player Dmitrii Baskov, who was once French Open and Wimbledon champion Simona Halep’s training partner, had travelled to India to train at an academy in Ahmedabad in January and had been unable to return home due to the travel restrictions.

With no training possible, the tennis ace - hailed as an “Indian hero” - has used the time to be part of a team that packs bread, rice and other food and distributes it to slum dwellers and people in containment zones.

“It is not a daily desire or action, it is now a natural act of helping. I am a sportsman and nothing more than that but the desire to help is always with me,” he told AFP.

Baskov, who has also donated blood for thalassemia patients, seems to have got the helpful gene from his doctor parents, who are actively involved with medical staff’s efforts in Moscow with his father diving right back into work after making a full recovery from COVID-19.

Care for the wildlife

While many Indian athletes have been involved in trying to help the less privileged part of society, some others have also displayed their sensitivity to animals, who have also been affected by the lack of proper attention to nurture them.

Former Indian hockey captain and Olympian Sandeep Singh, now the sports minister of Haryana, co-ordinated with a badminton club to distribute grass to cattle.

Similarly, Indian wrestler and 2012 Olympics bronze medallist Yogeshwar Dutt has ensured that the monkeys near his residence have been well-fed.

“In these difficult times, no living being should starve,” he posted on Twitter.

A ray of light

Many of his compatriots have distributed food packets and other daily groceries but Indian golfer Gaganjeet Bhullar has decided to light up the lives of ten families by donating solar panels in Kandila, a village he has adopted in Punjab.

“I was taking care of their day-to-day needs through the Gaganjeet Bhullar Foundation. When the pandemic broke out, I was wondering what I can do to make a difference in Kandila,” he told The Times of India.

“People living there endure power cuts every day as they are unable to afford electricity. That’s when I decided to donate solar panels to families of 10 small farmers who were in urgent need of it,” the 2006 Asian Games silver medallist said.