This is an appeal for monetary support, no doubt. The cause is somewhat different. In the real world of international politics, appeals to dignity and fairness do not work. Economic strength and achievements matter, for nations to command respect and attention. Millions of our software programmers, engineers and entrepreneurs have earned India that attention in recent years. One Narayana Murthy probably has done more for India's prestige and honour than thousands of petitions, articles and speeches in the UN, non-aligned forums, etc.
Sporting achievements can play such a dignity-enhancing role at the international level. That, of course, is not the only gain.
Our youngsters will have something positive to engage in. Indians, as Sunil Gavaskar put it once, walk with a spring with their step to catch their 8:45 local, if India had won a cricket match the previous day
When the country is blessed with talents that command international attention, it is a pity that the rest of us do not immediately spring to action to support it. Of course, this is not the only deserving cause that has gone unattended to, in India.
Sorry for such a long preamble.
Who is Abhinav Bindra?
The genesis of this appeal is this: I happened to read an article by Rohit Brijnath, former sports... correspondent in India Today, now a freelancer living in Sydney, in www.rediff.com on Shri Abhinva Bindra, who is only 18. He is India's ace shooter and arguably, the lone gold medal hope for Olympics 2004.
The column can be found here:
The column struck a chord in me. I wanted to do something to help this young man's quest. In that column, Rohit had mentioned the lack of funding and corporate support that would alone keep the young man's quest for an Olympic Gold Medal alive.
Through Rediff.com and Rohit himself, I had managed to establish contact with Abhinav Bindra's father Dr. A. S. Bindra and manager Mr. Kamal Dhillon. The lad's achievements, at only 18 years of age, are truly astonishing:
Major achievements by Abhinav Bindra
In the words of his manager, Mr. Kamal Dhillon: "The ISSF world ranking of Abhinav is 8th at present in Seniors and 1st in the Juniors category. Further at 18 he is the youngest shooter in his event and the average age of other shooters is well over 35 years. In the senior rankings the European Circuit championships (He won 6 gold, 4siver, 2bronze defeating all the top ten shooter a dozen times) have not been included as it was not conducted by ISSF, otherwise Abhinav is number one in the world by leaps & bounds."
- 18 YEARS OLD ( Date of Birth: September 28, 1982)
- WORLD RECORD HOLDER - RIFLE SHOOTING
- Won bronze established a new World Record scoring 597/600 in World Cup Munich on June 10th 2001.
- Won Gold established a new World Record with an exceptional score of 598 out of 600 in Luxemburg Open National Championship on 20-01-2001.
- Equaled the World Record in Air Rifle event during World Cup in Munich on 17.6.2K with a score of 596/600.
- Represented Punjab in 43rd National Rifle Shooting, equaled the world record and set the highest score at Nationals in the History of India.
- National Champion since 1998 in both Senior & Junior Categories in .177 ISSF Olympic Event Category.
- Represented India in World Cups at Milan, Atlanta, Munich, Sydney and Barcelona.
- Bronze medallist at Asian Shooting Championship held at Langkawi, Malaysia.(20 to 30 January 2000.
- Silver medallist at Warsaw Days Cup, Poland (year 2000)
- Silver medallist at Jr. World Hopes, Plzen-2000 shooting championship held in Czech Republic.
- Placed joint 11th position in Olympics Sydney - 2000 and is ranked 2nd in Asia after the Olympic Gold medallist from China.
- Represented India in World Cup Finals- Munich held in Nov.,2000 and placed No.10 in the World ranking. Awarded the Diploma of Honour by ISSF.
- Selected to represent India in the following International Competitions:
- RIAC 2001 Nissan Cup from 10th January to 14th January, 2001 at Luxembourg.
- Competition International Air Weapons from 23rd to 27th January, 2001 at Munich
- InterShoot Den Haag 2001 from 31st January to 3rd February, 2001 at The Hague. Baltic Cup from 8th to 10th February, 2001 at Denmark.
- International Competition Air Weapons from 2nd to 4th March, 2001 at Wiesbaden.
- Declared the Best Shooter award at RIAC 2001, lifted Nissan Cup and Den Haag Cup in the European Circuit.
- Won six Gold medals in a row, 4 Silvers and 2 Bronze in the ongoing European Circuit- An unparallel feat in shooting History.
- Won Gold in the All Swiss National Open Championship in March 2001.
- Lone Indian participant for the World Cups Atlanta Seoul 2001.
- Spearheading the Indian team for World cups Milan Munich to be held from 28-5-2001 to 11-6-2001.
- Only Indian to enter the finals of World cup Milan-2001, finished sixth.
Abhinav Bindra's funding requirements
His father had sent a detailed note spelling out his funding requirements. Here is the salient information:
These are the total expenses required for Abhinav Bindra per year upto Olympic-2004. We would be in a position to get from the Government about Rs. 15.00 lakhs and the present Abhinav Sporting Trust would provide another Rs. 10.00 lakhs leaving a gap of Rs. 95.00 lakhs or US dollars 202, 127.
||(Amount in Lakhs)
||Travelling for Competitions - International
||Travelling for Competitions - Domestic
||Special Coach Coaching in Germany USA
||Weapons and Ammunition
||Kit, Electronic Target Systems
||Extra Baggage during travel
||Self upkeep insurance, transport and financial security
||Special Food supplements/Mental Management Course in U.S.A. at Lanny Bassham Institute
||Miscellaneous expenses, Computer Software
||Total: Rs. 1.20 Crores / USD 258, 297
In spelling out his funding requirements for the next 3+ years, his father writes: ".today, International Sporting fraternity is pressing upon him, rather trying to take advantage of the fact that there is no full support to him from India and want him to shoot and represent countries like Germany, Holland or Denmark, but as a true nationalistic Indian, I have told Abhinav that" behind every victory will be the Indian tricolour" and as such we have declined financial offer from these countries.."
How to help Abhinav Bindra?
If each of us who read this request forwards this page to at least five others and they do likewise, soon, it could cover a vast number of Indians and other well-wishers. Some of you on this list host Internet sites, some represent industry groupings and some have access to huge database of Indians living in the US and elsewhere.
All of the above could be tapped to aid the young man. Please do so. I am aware that we, as individuals alone, may not be able to fully meet the young man's requirements until 2004. But what we do could have a ripple and signal effect on the rest of the Indians living in India or elsewhere. How to contribute funds?
(1) His father informs us that money transfer could be made directly to the account of Shri Abhinav Bindra: "Money transfer can be sent directly in his name Abhinav Bindra who holds an account in U.T.I. Bank, Sector 34 Branch, Chandigarh. His account No. is SB 11680. "
If you wish to send him a cheque/DD directly, here is the postal address and other contact details:
Sector - 32-D,
Phone: 91- 172-385976;
(2) Those of you who know me could, as in the past, send me (details follow shortly) the money to be pooled and transferred to his account in India. I would write to his father with full details of each donor (please let me have your postal addresses too) so that he could send individual receipts and acknowledgements.
If you are in Switzerland or have Swiss francs to be spared:
Please transfer funds to the following account:
Account holder: V. Anantha-Nageswaran
Account number: 4835-696069-21
Bank: Credit Suisse, 8070 Zurich, Switzerland
(3) In Singapore, you could either send me cheques drawn in the name of 'V. Anantha-Nageswaran' or credit the amount directly to the following account:
Account holder: V. Anantha-Nageswaran
Account number: 101-308-258-3
Bank: United Overseas Bank, Main Branch, Raffles Place, Singapore
Let us show that we could make a difference. I look forward to hearing from you all.