In terms of both net worth and real worth, there is really no contest between someone like Raja Singh and Sania Mirza.

A collage of Sania Mirza talking into the mic with her hand through her hair, and BJP's Raja Singh
Voices Opinion Monday, August 09, 2021 - 16:26

>He was born in 1978. Eight years head start.

>She was born in 1986.

>He claims he could not finish schooling because of poverty.

> She graduated from a college in the city, despite a rigorous sports schedule.

>His website claims: “He was attracted to RSS as it matched his patriotism and belief. After joining RSS he was attracted to the youth wing of the RSS namely Hindu Vahini.”

>She took to playing tennis from the age of six and turned professional in 2003.

>For some reason, he used to look closely enough at cows to see the pain in the eyes of the gomaathas, which his website claims “filled his heart with sadness.” Apparently, that inspired him, “along with some youth from Hindu Vahini”, to form a group to protect cows.

>She won the Wimbledon doubles title in 2003 at the age of 17, never to look back. She went on to have a series of outstanding achievements in tennis on the global stage that no other Indian woman even dreamt of.

>His official website claims, for 15 years he was motivating a number of youth to protect cows, and “Earlier in Hyderabad Cows were Slaughtered on main roads but now the time has changed, you would rarely found a Cow (sic).” Bold letters from the website, not mine.

>She inspired young Indian women to aspire for the global stage in sports, and became a role model to an entire generation of women sports achievers in India.

>According to the myneta information, his criminal record as filed in an election affidavit shows that in eight criminal cases charges were framed against him “related to promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc., and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony (IPC Section-153A).” Courts have taken cognisance in 19 cases against him.

>Meanwhile, from 2004 onwards, she won six Grand Slam titles, achieved world number one ranking in Women’s Tennis Association’s doubles rankings, ITF Doubles World Champion 2015, WTA Doubles Team of the Year 2015, and became one of the highest paid athletes in India.

>Again, his official website claims, “The youth of Hyderabad has given him the title Yuva Ratna and Wisemens association has called Hindu Hruday Samrat. The youth of  Hyderabad and AP call him Tiger Raja Bhai or Bhai affectionately. Like a elder brother. (sic)”

>Her on court record brought her a host of honours, including Arjuna Award (2004), WTA NewComer of the Year (2005), Padma Shri (2006), Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna (2015), BBC list of 100 inspiring women (2015), Padma Bhushan (2015), 2016’s Times Magazine top 100 list. Through her tennis academy, she is training youngsters to take up sports and live healthy lives, both in mind and body.

>He entered politics as a TDP corporator, thanks to Chandrababu Naidu, but went on to join the BJP. By conducting Ramnavami Shobha Yatras, and other such activities, he became an MLA on a BJP ticket in 2014 and 2018.

>She was appointed South Asia’s UN Women’s Goodwill Ambassador.

>He claims in his website that “he is very popular on social media. He currently has Many followers around the world. He addresses them regularly through his YoutTube videos (sic).”

>She has 6.9 million followers on Instagram, 9.2 million on Twitter and 15.6 million on Facebook.

>He is busy inventing newer fences to constrain people with threats and coercion about their personal choices of religion, marriage, and food.

>She fearlessly shaped her own future and happiness by marrying a Pakistani cricketer, unmindful of the bigotry around her. They have an adorable son.

>The Wikipedia entry on him runs into some hundred words, basically reflecting the vacuity of existence. But certainly mentions the one talent that’s constantly on display: religious bigotry.

>The Wikipedia entry on her runs into several thousand words, reflecting an action-packed achiever’s life. The life of a global citizen. An Indian citizen who put Indian women’s tennis on the global stage.

>He took time off to raise a ruckus through ‘friendly media’ to say how she is the “daughter-in-law” of Pakistan and doesn’t deserve to be a brand ambassador of the state. A potent combination of religious bigotry, ultra-nationalism, and misogyny.

>The Telangana government nominated her as brand ambassador of Telangana in 2014 and also honoured her with cash awards.

>Every time his political future becomes uncertain, he appoints himself as an arbiter of how she deserves to be treated. Good way to grab headlines.

>As always, she probably will respond with her racket on the global stage.

>He is Raja Singh.

>She is Sania Mirza.

>Both Hyderabadis.

But in this new India of ours, why does our common sense allow the blurring of distinction between a ton of toxic waste and a national treasure in our public discourse?

While politicisation of everything is a national malaise, there are a few politicians who have perfected the art of grabbing the headlines by making communally charged comments about celebrities. After the recent Tokyo Olympics, Raja Singh said, “From Chandrababu Naidu to the last Congress government, they did give at least some importance to sports. But this government (TRS govt) has done nothing. Instead of making Pakistan’s daughter-in-law as Telangana brand ambassador, the Telangana government should consider PV Sindhu who is the first Indian to win two Olympic medals for the country.”

The likes of Raja Singh have operated with impunity and on the principle of ‘any publicity is good publicity’. In terms of both net worth and real worth, there is really no contest here between someone like Raja Singh and Sania Mirza. It's the public who needs to choose their representatives more carefully. The achievers will perform with or without our support.

Padmaja Shaw is an academic and independent journalist.
Become a TNM Member for just Rs 999!
You can also support us with a one-time payment.