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Journalism of Courage

Commonwealth Games champion Poonia finds time for society

Krishna Poonia,who became the first Indian woman track and field athlete to win CWG gold medal,is the face of social campaigns.

Haryana athlete Krishna Poonia is a busy woman these days with involvement in social cause campaigns in between hectic training schedule,and it has added to her celebrity status in her home state Rajasthan. Poonia is currently the face of a couple of campaigns in Rajasthan aimed at spreading awareness against female foeticide,which stresses on the importance of care for underprivileged and deprived children. She is the brand ambassador of these two campaigns and does her social service when she comes home to Jaipur during breaks in training at NIS,Patiala.

“I am happy that I am being able to give something back to the society. These social issues are dear to me. I have seen them in my childhood in Haryana and in Rajasthan after marriage. Being public faces,if we can bring some changes in the society we should contribute our part,” she told PTI.

Just a few days back she was at some villages in Udaipur district for a campaign called ‘Khushi’ that aims at spreading awareness among people on the importance of care for the underprivileged and deprived children — their health,education and nutrition. The campaign is the brainchild of Vedanta Group’s Hindustan Zinc company,the training sponsors of Poonia. “The children and youth are the pillars of society and future of the country. If changes are to be brought in the society,it will have to start from the children and youth. I feel happy while interacting with children and youth,” said Poonia who became the first Indian woman track and field athlete to win a Commonwealth Games gold medal in 2010.

“I have seen the plight of underprivileged children in several villages in Udaipur district,how they have been deprived of so many things which we and our children are getting as a matter of right. Mostly I have to do these campaigns through women who run Self Help Groups,” said the star discus thrower. Poonia said she felt happy whenever she had to go for these kind of social campaigns during breaks in her training. “I am the brand ambassador of Rajasthan government health ministry. I would come home in Jaipur at weekends from NIS,Patiala for some rest or some family things and I would go to villages for campaigns ranging from malnutrition of children to child marriage to female foeticide,” she said.

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“I had been to Hanumangarh,Sikar,Jhunjhunu and other districts for Rajasthan government’s campaign for ‘Save the Girls from Kanya Bhuran Hatya’ (Female Feoticide). It’s social problem which discriminates against the girl. It was a campaign under the National Rural Health Mission,” she added.

Poonia said she got the inspiration to work for social causes from her in-laws in Rajasthan. “There is a tradition of wearing ‘Ghoonghat’ (veil) in Rajasthan villages. My father-in-law was a school headmaster and grand father-in-law an Arya Samajists. But when I got married to Virender they told me that I may not wear the Ghoonghat as that would create problems to my athletics careers. “So,I got the inspiration to work for social issues from my in-laws. Social taboos are actually man made and we can change them,” she added.

First published on: 13-04-2013 at 02:04 IST
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