Sunday, March 09, 2008

A Hero Returns to a Pension of Rs 5000

September 2007

Team India, the 20-20 winners given a heroes welcome. Fans lined the 30km route from the international airport in Sahar to the Wankhede Stadium, in pouring rain.

BCCI announces a $2 million (Rs. 12 crore) reward to the team members. Not to mention other endorsements that followed. Yuvraj Singh gets an additional Rs 1 crore (and a sports car) for his six sixes in an over. Others too get handsome rewards.

October 2007

Castrol honours and felicitate outstanding Indian cricketers of the last 75 years.

March 2008

BCCI president Sharad Pawar announces a cash reward of Rs 10 crore for the Indian cricket team that won the ODI tri-series in Australia. The usual media frenzy follows.

4 Mar 2008

After having languished in a Pakistani jail for about 35 years, 67-year old Kashmir Singh crosses over to India to an emotional reunion with his wife at the border post at Wagah. Singh had been arrested in 1973 in Pakistan on charges of espionage and was on the death row in a jail in Lahore.

7 Mar 2008

Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal announces a pension of Rs 5000 per month each to Kashmir Singh and wife Parmajit Kaur in recognition of his "outstanding services" towards the nation.

The Chief Minister also announces to bear the entire expenditure for the construction of a house for Kashmir Singh and his family over a plot donated by his media advisor in Mahilpur.

The series of events has left me wondering, who's the real hero! Those who win matches for the national team or those who risk their lives for their country. Even if they have made their country equally proud, why the difference in treatment?

I feel proud of Mr Kashmir Singh and salute the spirit of his family. At the same time it saddens me to learn that the wife of a national hero had to work as a maid to make both ends meet. And the duo will now receive only Rs 10,000 as monthly pension.

This is what they get after 35 years! Small mercies that he returned alive to make life a little less difficult for his poor wife. Is the government of India sleeping or what? No wonder cricket remains a better option than a career in the defence.

Mr Singh you are the real Hero to me. We are all indebted to you and proud of your work! Unfortunately the media has reserved most of its flashlights for cricket, whether we win or loose.

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