Gutta Jwala​ to TNM: If Sindhu was given the Padma Shri after winning the world championship, why wasn't I?

Ace shuttler Jwala Gutta has some very uncomfortable questions on how Padma awards are given
news Sports Friday, January 27, 2017 - 16:40

India’s badminton doubles specialist Jwala Gutta is not upset that her name was not selected for the Padma awards, but would like to know why was she left out. 

In a Facebook post on Thursday, Jwala expressed disappointment over the Padma awards process, asking if her medals were not enough to be considered for it.  

In conversation with The News Minute on Friday, the ace player said that all she wants to know is what exactly is the criteria for selecting awardees for India's highest civilian honours. 

"Ashwini (Ponnappa) and I won bronze at the World Championships (WC) in 2011 whereas Sindhu won her's in 2013. Yet she was awarded the Padma Shri in 2015. She wasn't an Olympian then (PV Sindhu clinched silver at the 2016 Rio Olympics)," she said.

"I am not saying that Sindhu should not have got the award, but I want to know what was the difference between us winning the championship and her winning it," she adds. 

A constant flow of support has been pouring in for Jwala, but there has been criticism too with people questioning her performance. 

"If some say that I have had no good performances in the last two years, then I should have been given the award when I gave my best performances. I have an outstanding record in the Indian Badminton history. We were the first women from India to win a medal at the worlds. It is super prestigious. I have also played two Olympics. If people are ignorant, if they question my performance without knowing my achievements, then it is really their  problem. I have no answer for that."

She added, "Prakash (Padukone) sir won the World championships in 1983 and Gopi (Puella Gopichand) won the prestigious All England Open Badminton Championships in 2001. Are you saying take away their credentials because they had won it decades ago? Nobody can take away my credentials."

In 2015, Olympic bronze medalist Saina Nehwal had also questioned the process of selecting awardees when her application for Padma Bhushan was rejected. The star shuttler was conferred the honour in 2016. 

Jwala said that she finds it really "awkward" to apply for awards and while she has been applying for the Padma awards for three years now, she feels that she shouldn't have to send in her name to get the recognition she deserves. 

This time around, Jwala said several "prominent people" had told her that she would get the award because she deserved it. And yet her name was not announced in the list that was released on Wednesday. 

"I am not frustrated or upset that I wasn't given an award. But it is not just about getting an award. It is about your work being recognised. It is about 15 years of hard work, put in by me and my family, being acknowledged by the government," she stated. 

The ace badminton player goes on to say that she is very proud of her achievements since she has had no proper support system with her. "Prakash sir had no one to back him. But Gopi had Prakash sir. Saina (Nehwal) had Gopi and Sindhu had Saina. But I had nobody. Since 2000, till now. I don't even have proper sponsors till now. It is sad that I always have to talk about it."

The gold medalist in the women's doubles at the 2010 Commonwealth Games feels that being an "outspoken" person has always worked against her.

"Being an opinionated, outspoken person in this world, especially if you are a woman, is not taken very well. Such people are labelled, are subjected to name-calling and are judged. We live in a patriarchal society. I am not liked very much by people in power."

"What is sad is women don't support women. Sportspersons don't support sportspersons. Leave aside support, even two words of appreciation will do. We don't stand up for each other," Jwala, who is back to training after taking some time off, said signing off. 

All images source: Gutta Jwala/Facebook

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