A punch in the face of Indian women

August 11, 2009

Lost in the clamour over our cricketers defying WADA over the “whereabouts” rule in drug testing, was a tiny news item in the Hindustan Times daily last week about women boxers washing dishes and serving tea to visitors at the National Institute of Sports.

Sports Minister MS Gill, when questioned about it in India’s upper house, said the practice was “a normal courtesy extended to distinguished guests”.

There was no clarity on what made a guest distinguished or whether this was a courtesy that only women were called on to extend.

The boxing federation, which has enough on its plate already, then sent out a press release, papers said, saying: “Haven’t we all grown up seeing our mothers, sisters and ladies of the house looking after the guests, right from our childhood. Are they doing demeaning jobs?”

Clearly not in Gill’s mind.

Isn’t it bad enough that every sport besides cricket gets the short end of the stick in India? Do we need to further humiliate our sportspersons — our sportswomen — in this fashion?

Would you imagine the uproar if budding bowlers at the Chennai academy were made to wash the cars of distinguished guests as a normal courtesy?

Harbhajan Singh and Murali Kartik were apparently disciplined some time back because they complained about the quality of the food at the cricket academy.

The contrast could not be more stark: while our superstar cricketers throw tantrums over food and their considerable weight over rules, our other sportspersons have no voice, and our sportswomen, in particular, who fight against conventional notions of what a woman must be, are reminded they haven’t come very far at all.

Most unsporting, isn’t it?


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A Punch it is! Even without the constant comparison to the rather luxurious lifestyle of the Indian cricketers, the women boxers’ situation & worse still, the comments of the press release, stinks of chauvinistic scorn & cynicism! “Looking after the guests” is definitely not demeaning – It’s not at all demeaning if you are sitting at home or hosting some party! As for the women boxers, who are at the National Institute of Sports for the sole purpose of training & with an objective of bettering at a sport of their choice, but are made to wash dishes, I wouldn’t call this demeaning – It’s plain spite & humiliation!

Posted by Meenu | Report as abusive

The Title is way misleading…..

Posted by Gaurav | Report as abusive

It is real pathetic to know how we treat our sports personnel (the non cricket walas)…I think to set things right, BAN cricket in India…

Good lord, the women have come to train themselves in the sport..and not to play a host to the so called distinguished guests…

Wake up people…

Posted by Avinash | Report as abusive

Our ministers really need to be made understood that these are boxers and not hosts. If we can’t differentiate between the two then are we really qualified enough for a designation as respectful?.
Would we appreciate the women in the parliament doing the same for ministers of other countries.

Women boxers i really think these guys need a pinch of your talent…

Posted by Monika | Report as abusive

Compare this with the chest thumping we do over having a woman President, leader of the Congress party et al. The aam aurat doesn’t even exist for our distinguished ministers, be they guests or otherwise.

Posted by Dara | Report as abusive

Ok its not appreciable.. but seriously where do you get these topics from?

Posted by Aaruni Upadhyay | Report as abusive

Rina Chandran:

First off, you have not provided enough news/links to comment. All that is available is a HT link, wherein it is mentioned ‘our report” –where is that. where is the link to the photographs?

From the HT link:
“Unfortunately, the news report and photographs —published in the Hindustan Times last month—about World Boxing Champi-onship bronze medallist Renu Gora being made to wash utensils and serve tea to officials and visiting journalists at the National Institute of Sports in Patiala, failed to make a difference.”—being made to wash? –really? seems like reporter trying to say being made as slaves.

I have equal problem with your article providing insufficient news and the exagerated language of the HT news.

Can you put your neck on the block to say “it is clear that no male boxer helped female boxer in doing the “demeaning job”.” I am not supporting this, but this is true for many non-sports areas too–remember jaspal bhatti show on Ph.Ds? The difference is the male Ph.D. was helping the boss to do unrelated jobs (and happens in reality too) –o the difference is a man is being exploited there—so it is a comedy show.

Also no idea what anti-cricket stuff his doing here?

Having said that, I will add that it is not that big of problem to say “A punch in the face of Indian women”. There perhaps are bigger and real issues that women really want to be blogged in Reuters. This news is worth the news in HT and any national newspapers and not big enough for blogging.

Posted by rajeev | Report as abusive

Why do you want to create a controversy out of nothing?

Posted by Rohit | Report as abusive

This is demeaning and outright insult to sports persons.

The minister MS Gill should be made to wash the dishes and serve the guests as he is a public servant not the boxers.

Posted by Atish | Report as abusive


I agree with you. But…. When it comes to sports, Indians have an inferiority complex. Sadly, Indians are at the end of the list in all sports except cricket. Indians make a big deal out of cricket because it is the only one they got to show off. (I am not forgetting the gold medal in shooting, but shooting, by virtue, can not be a popular sport). So, may be you should tell these athletes (both gender) that an Asian medal is not the end of the path, but only a small prize on the way! Do you think an Olympic gold medalist will be washing dishes? By the way, the “Indians” include you and me!

Posted by Johny | Report as abusive


Mr. Gill has a point. This may be a normal courtesy extended to distinguished guests.

Therefore the ‘women boxers’as quoted above can extend abnormal courtesy to non-distinguished guests by boxing them up :) This will give all a fitting reply to all their detractors.

This courtesy can include the bad people who trouble us – Snakes, Politicians, Terrorists, Hate-mongers and other poisonous reptiles.

Let’s ask Hindustan Times to cover activities where Mums, Wives, Sisters, Daughters (Women Boxers at Home) have actually been boxing the ears of their siblings, spouses and children – not to mention their in-laws and outlaws.

Maybe the author of this Blog will feel better and will subsequently write another posting highlighting the plight of those that faced the wrath of the dreaded ‘Women Boxer’!!!

I hope my wife does not read this or there might be a sparring match at home and a whole lotta boxing.

But, seriously, I recommend all boxers hear the song from Simon and Garfunkel called “The Boxer” on Boxing Day.

Posted by Fabs | Report as abusive

Interestingly, only in india we think doing these small chores as insulting. In the west people just do it as part of job. but having said that the general condition of non cricket sports is pathetic in india.

i am not saying these ladies should do dishes but generally sports is underfunded with lazy politicians heading those portfolios. not to mention the corrupt officials. plus the feminists in india are focussed elsewhere. women boxers are mostly from north east. how much has india done to improve north eastern states ?

Posted by vivek | Report as abusive

I agree with the author. What part of a sports person that you geniuses don’t understand? Those women are there to train for boxing and they should be made to sweat it out in the ring…not wash dishes or host friggin pot bellys. I guess all this talk of ‘what’s wrong with it?’ comes from a perspective of favors being done on them women. Anyhow I have to ask, why did these boxers submit? Oh th irony!

Posted by kaka | Report as abusive

Hi All,

The news is true…yes they were made to do these stuff.

Please remember they are there to punch, to beat the hell out of another competitor, not to be mother or sisters.

Posted by Tarun | Report as abusive