Swapna Barman became the only Indian so far to have won gold medal in the 2018 Asian Games in the event called heptathlon, an athletic event which, like many of them, most of her own villagers never heard of till she won the medal. Earlier she had also won gold medal in Asian Athletic Championship in 2017 and got silver medal in the SAF Games in 2016. Being the champion of one of the toughest athletic events she soon became well-known all over the country. For her extraordinary sporting achievements, she was also conferred with the coveted Arjuna Award. In the same Asiad the Assamese girl, Hima Das too won the gold medal in the 400 metres mixed and women’s relay. Young Hima Das deservedly became a celebrity in Assm. She has also been offered the job of Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) by the state government. In stark contrast to such glorious journey, Swapna Barman received a lukewarm welcome in Kolkata airport, the capital of her home state, moderate cash rewards from the state, a clerical job to her brother, and that’s about it, where it all ended. Swapna belongs to the Koch Rajbanshi community, an indigenous repressed community recognized as Scheduled Caste in the state of West Bengal. In the caste sensitive Bengal society, they have always been considered as paraiahs, the low castes.
Tag: West Bengal
It is fate of marginal groups everywhere to bear the burden of this ‘double-consciousness’ – one’s self-worth, one’s sense of self is never one’s own, but always refracted through the eyes of the powerful, who gazes at him with ‘contempt and pity’. As time goes by, one starts believing in the narrative of the dominant group, one internalizes others’ judgements about him.
The children in Nayanagarh Primary School, Jambani Primary School, Belpahari, Jangalmahal, West Bengal are all under the age of 10. But already they “know” that some languages are “worth” more than others and the one they speak at home is “worth least”.