At a time when the Telugu states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana bicker about their share of river waters, the phenomenon called P.V. Sindhu makes all of them and their leaders forget these issues a while with her athletic exploits and Olympic medals.
Sindhu is a major unifying factor and is equally celebrated by both the Telugu states every time she wins.
When she won the badminton silver medal in the 2016 Rio Olympics, the Telangana government rewarded her with a sum of Rs 5 crore, while Andhra Pradesh gave her Rs 3 crore and a plum state government job.
Former Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu offered her the job of a Deputy Collector, which is the top job through the state public service commission’s recruitment process.
In fact, a Deputy Collector’s job leads one to become a conferred Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer later on in their career.
As an employee of the Andhra Pradesh government, Sindhu says she is always encouraged and helped with working leave when needed.
Will Sindhu also go on to become a senior official in the state government after completing her badminton conquests, taking a leaf out of former fast bowler and inaugural 2007 T20 world cup winning Indian team member Joginder Sharma? W will have to wait and watch for some more years.
Sharma bowled the last over of the T20 world cup to trounce Pakistan and went on to become a senior officer in the Haryana state police department.
After winning her historic second medal at the Tokyo games, becoming first Indian woman to do so, Andhra Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy hailed her as the lone Indian woman to do it.
“All good wishes and congratulations to our Telugu girl Sindhu for winning Bronze for India at Tokyo Olympics 2020,” said Reddy.
He did not stop with the wishes but proceeded to reward the state government employee and Olympian with a cash award of Rs 30 lakh.
The Andhra government handed over the cheque to the badminton superstar on Friday after she met Reddy along with her family.
Minister Avanti Srinivas handed over the cheque to Sindhu in the presence of special chief secretary Rajat Bhargava and I & PR Commissioner Vijay Kumar Reddy.
Even before leaving for Tokyo, Reddy met Sindhu and handed over a cash incentive of Rs 5 lakh, along with a copy of the government order allocating 2 acre of land to Sindhu to set up a badminton academy in the port city Visakhapatnam, which will soon become the executive capital of the southern state.
On being asked when she would set up the academy, the much loved shuttler said she would do it soon.
“I am so grateful for your continuous support Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister, thank you sir,” said Sindhu.
She said the Chief Minister is constantly supporting her and even assured that they are always behind her, including offering whatever she needs to make sure she keeps winning.
“I am very happy. He (Reddy) congratulated me. The Chief Minister blessed and told me to definitely bring a medal and I brought a medal. The whole state has been congratulating me. Thanks to all of them,” she said.
In fact, Reddy himself urged her to start the academy soon to nurture more youngsters like her.
The ace shuttler also praised the Andhra Pradesh government for introducing schemes to encourage sports-persons.
Appreciating the state government for reserving 2 per cent jobs for sports-persons in government posts, Sindhu said: “It is appreciable to know that the state government is giving YSR awards to sportspersons to encourage them.”
After reaching Hyderabad from Tokyo via Delhi, Sindhu received a rousing welcome in Telangana state as well. V. Srinivas Goud, the Telangana Sports Minister, was present at the airport to personally welcome her along with other senior officials.
Goud also met Sindhu before leaving for Tokyo and playfully engaged in a short badminton game with her.
Several Tollywood actors celebrated the badminton superstar’s success with equal zest, including Lakshmi Manchu, Mahesh Babu, Varun Tej, Sharat Chandra and others.
Telugu film legend and megastar from Mogalturu village Chiranjeevi said: “Congrats Sindhu on winning the medal and creating history for being the first Indian woman to bring Olympic medal twice in a row.”
Outside the sporting realm, the badminton virtuoso unites both the states by embracing and revering deities in the Telugu states.
She is a regular at Lal Darwaza Mahankali temple Bonalu celebrations. Like a traditional Telangana girl, Sindhu carries the ‘Bonam’ during the popular festival in Hyderabad.
Similarly, she has great devotion for Kanakadurgamma at Indrakeeladri in Vijayawada. She visited Kanakadurgamma temple on her return from Tokyo along with her family members.
Sindhu said she is a devotee of the deity and visits the temple regularly.
The shuttler not only unites but has also inspired a generation of young people with her sporting excellence, resulting in more youngsters taking up the sport nowadays in the Telugu states. Sindhu and her victories are leaving a lasting positive effect on both Andhra Pradesh and Telangana as well as the whole nation.
(Sharon Thambala can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)