The Rio Olympics is over and as far as India is concerned, they may as well have not happened. Sure, there is the silver medal won by PV Sindhu in badminton and a bronze won by Sakshi Malik in wrestling. But considering India sent its biggest ever contingent, this was a humiliation of the biggest order. India came in at 67th spot! Tiny Venezuela, Malaysia, and Singapore even beat it. And yet, there is the case of Hindu American Indian Rajeev Ram – yes, we put his religious affiliations there deliberately.
Now, the US is a massive land mass, but its Indian-origin population is tiny, even if it is growing at a very rapid ‘rabbity’ pace. There were 2,843,391 in 2010, which makes up some 0.9% of overall US population. It was growing at an amazing 69.37%. And yet, over the years, this tiny group has created a number of Olympic champions! Take the cases of Mohini Bhardwaj, silver medal winner gymnast in 2004, and her counterpart in the same discipline Raj Bhavsar who won bronze in 2008. Decades ago there was Alexi Grewal of Sikh origins.
While Hindu religion was not brought out into the open by any one except Rajeev Ram as the foundation around which he built his tremendously successful sporting achievements, yet it is plain to see where they are coming from and what provides the basic beginnings of their mental make-up and subsequent sporting success. Rajeev Ram won the Olympic silver medal partnering Venus Williams in the mixed doubles. After the celebrations were over, he expanded on the role religion played in powering his Olympic bid.
Ram says, in a Washington Post report that his religious beliefs came courtesy his parents. The values that his parents stressed on were not just for his private life, they also were very much a part of his professional enterprise and came on court with him. Ram says the Hindu religion is not just about trying to win, it is about self-control and how to master moral and ethical behaviour. It translated into his tennis not in a way as to focus solely on victory, which was important, but on obtaining mastery over his body. That means he played to win, but that was not a be-all-end-all of the entire exercise.
His parents did not care very much whether he won or lost, instead they focussed on whether he lost his temper or was able to control it. This self-control brought him great discipline and this in turn allowed him to win more and more often. Another very high profile person who turned to a facet of Hinduism, Yoga, was F1 icon from Germany Michael Schumacher and he said everything else was important, but what gave him the edge was this unique way of applying his mind to focus clearly on the job at hand. It brought him both peace and focus.
It is an incredible achievement by this tiny minority of Indian-origin American players who have dug deep into their background to move ahead and bring laurels to their new country and community especially when it is juxtaposed against the massive Indian population back home that is unable to harness the best athletes in its midst and send them to Olympic Games and who, in turn, can generate even half of the same kind of results.
Now, that Rajeev Ram has unveiled his ‘Hindu’ formula of success, will other Indians be willing to follow his line of thought in practice and apply it to bringing in laurels for their country? Clearly, if an advantage lies that way, then it should be promoted and the best brought out of in the interest of the country. Right now, nothing else seems to be working.