Battling the Attendance Blues

UNMUKT CHAND – this name wasn’t known to many until this 19 year from Delhi did the nation proud by leading the U-19 WORLD CUP team to a glorious victory and scoring a brilliant century in the crucial final game. The nation not only celebrated the coming home of the world cup, but also the likeliness of a bright future of the boys who’ll make up the next generation of Cricket. When Unmukt Chand returned to India,  he was welcomed like a hero but the celebration came to a sorry end when he was barred from writing the college examination due to low attendance.

Unmukt was a simple boy who loved cricket who with his dedication and passion for the game made us all proud. Pursuing his bachelors’ in St. Stephens College (in want of a degree, like any other youngster in this day and age). But as fate would have it, he was not promoted to the second year. Why? Because he didn’t fulfil the prescribed attendance requirements due to his cricketing commitments. (The college prescribes a minimum of 33.33 % of attendance for the students who have taken admissions through sports’ quota.)

This case was taken up by the media and came into light when the likes of MS Dhoni, Kapil Sibal and Ajay Maken went all out in support of the nation’s newest hero. The College was criticized by the people, citing Unmukt’s as a special case, and therefore worthy of an exception being made.Image Amidst all this criticism and pressure from the Sports and HRD Ministers, DU gave in and the Vice Chancellor announced that Unmukt would be promoted, provided he cleared the examination. It all ended on a happy note and Unmukt was felicitated by his college.

The case has ended, and the national media is no longer interested. But a few questions do arise –

What if the U-19 team had not won? Would he be the same hero that he is today? Would Kapil Sibal still have come to his rescue? That remains questionable.

Would another sports person, as talented, have gotten the same support that a Cricketer did? Past record suggests that they don’t. Jaspal Rana, for example, won several medals at Asian and Commonwealth Games, but was denied an enrolment number due to similar reasons. A lot of times, they flunk their exams due to low internal assessment, like Olympic swimmer, Sandeep Sejwal.

What about some others, who don’t play at a level as high as Unmukt’s, given that they too, remain dedicated to their sport?

Is this one of the reasons why Sports remains an underrated domain in India?

The idea of ‘balancing’ academics with sports remains the trend, irrational as it may be. I guess that’s the reason why I like Sachin. He never cared for this mess.

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