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Punjab Govt's failure to live up to promises made to Malika Handa leaves chess champion's mother fuming

Malika Handa happens to be one of the brightest prospects in Indian chess, having won numerous laurels. However, the lack of aid from the Punjab government for being deaf has made her mother wonder if sports is the right career for her.

Punjab Govt's failure to live up to promises made to Malika Handa leaves chess champion's mother Renu Handa fuming-ayh
Chandigarh, First Published Nov 27, 2021, 10:16 AM IST

As far as Indian chess is concerned, we have grandmasters aplenty. However, we also have champions among the disabled chess players, and Malika Handa happens to be one such name. While she is the first Indian ever to win an International Deaf and Dumb Chess Championship gold, she has won multiple gold medals in the national championships.

However, despite being an Indian, Asian and World champion and winning multiple laurels, she has lacked enough support from the Punjab government. Whether in terms of proper coaches, cash rewards or a government job, she has not received any either. Also, she has been alleging on social media that her disability of being deaf is being reasoned for rejection.

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In the same light, Asianet Newsable caught up with her mother, Renu Handa, describing her daughter's struggles. Zero support from the Punjab government has made her think if sports is the right career choice for her deaf daughter. Here are the excerpts from her interview.

What has happened so far? Any help or aid from the Punjab government?
"Nothing has happened so far. It all started from zero, and it is still stuck on zero. We have been assured of being given the cash reward by multiple government members, but it has been five years now, and we are still awaiting it. As a result, Malika has been frustrated with all of this. It has compelled her to vent it out on social media through her posts."

"Disabled athletes already face a lot of problems, yet they work hard to scale top heights and the ultimate pinnacle in their respective sports. Under Amrinder Singh's reign, she was also given an invitation for felicitation along with Neeraj Chopra. However, due to COVID, it got cancelled, and she is still awaiting her award."

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Have you tried contacting Indian Sports Ministry for some help?
"No, not yet. Our state itself is unwilling to entertain us, so how can we approach the centre right now? The state's actions have left us utterly broken. All they do is speak in front of the media, but after that, they do nothing."

Are you getting any help from any coach?
"We don't have a coach for her yet. Whatever she has achieved so far is without the help of any coach. That's the reason why she puts in the extra hard work. She used to play 20 days a month, and we travelled for her tournaments. Regardless she won or lost; we supported her all the way through."

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How is she preparing for her upcoming tournaments?
"Right now, she is fed up due to the lack of support from the Punjab government. She is looking to wait while she plans of creating a platform to support other children like her. But, with no support for her, I'm not sure how would she inspire others."

How is she making progress in academics?
"She has completed her graduation, but she wants to focus on her game hereon that took a hit due to her education."

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How did you support her all this time?
"I have done the best I can, as I cannot stand tears in her eyes. However, now I feel that I might have made a mistake by supporting her in the sport. Now, I am wondering as to what would be her future? She keeps asking me the same thing again and again."

"On the government job front, she keeps saying that it is her right and that I should fight for her right, not just for her, but also for other athletes like her. She fears that athletes might not take up the sport looking at her situation right now. I fear that her game does not suffer hereon."

"I don't blame her entirely, as she does get emotional for all these issues considering her age. Also, the government should have done a proper review of its resources before announcing its decision. Then, she could have pondered over some other form of career. Now, she is stuck. She can neither go forward nor back in her career."

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