Book: Dipa Karmakar: In Perfect Balance
Author: Sreelata Menon and (Illustrations by) Sonal Gupta Vaswani
Publisher: Pratham Books
Price: Rs 40
Appropriate for: 5+
Last year, while reading Rachel Ignotofsky’s Women in Sports: 50 Fearless Athletes Who Played to Win, one had hoped that there would come a time when Indian publishers would consider such a book on the considerable achievements of women athletes in India. After all, there have been reams written on mainstream male sports stars and the rise of sportswomen such as Sakshi Malik, Saina Nehwal, PV Sindhu and Dipa Karmakar is a story worthy of being told in a country where women still fight enormous odds to come into their own.
Sreelata Menon’s book on Dipa Karmakar seems to be the first baby step in this direction. This slim volume takes readers through the arc of Karmakar’s life — the first Indian female gymnast to participate in the Olympics, and, whose bold decision to perform the risky Produnova almost fetched her a medal at the 2016 summer Olympics. Behind that near-miss is the story of a lifetime of discipline and a refusal to accede to roadblocks. Karmakar grew up in Agartala, a city not particularly known for its gymnastic culture. She had flat feet and no access to proper training facilities. But she had parents who believed that she could overcome all of these and coaches who worked with her to realise her true potential. This is a book that is important because it starts a long-needed conversation about our women athletes. Perhaps, its indie publisher Pratham Books might consider turning it into a mini series?