Reading through an Outlook article by Qaiser Mohammad Alion, the positives from the story are hard to ignore. The rise of medal winning ace shooters from western UP is a trend to be appreciated and encouraged. Some of them, like 16-year-old Saurabh Chaudhary who had previously broken the world record for the 10m air pistol on his way to the gold at the Junior World Cup, continue to redefine the limits.
Professional shooting is a sport which requires intense discipline, focus and investment. The entry of these teenagers into the sport was eased partially by training academies set up by pioneering shooters from the region. It also helped that many of them came from families with a long tradition of gun-owning and hunting (legal until 1972), with the sport channeling energy which could otherwise be spent on generating the wrong kind of headlines. All good... it would seem.
But for a niggling worry, an ember of concern kept alive by coach Neetu Sheoran's quote "...One welcome social change brought about by this is that incidents of eve-teasing have come down".
Eve-teasing - a criminally misleading euphemism for sexual harassment - is a harrowing reality in many parts of conservative and patriarchal India. The cinematic justice in a young girl, long oppressed and sidelined, discovering confidence through the barrel of a gun is an alluring story-line, even though routinely recycled as a theme in many a film around the world. In our country, where systems are malfunctional to the point of non-existence and justice (if not denied outright) is always delayed, a solution of any nature is worthy of celebration, isn't it?
The glamour of the gun, unfortunately, cuts both ways. If the ability to handle a gun is what it takes to ensure protection, what of those who are not skilled likewise? In the face of life's many stresses, who's to say that wielders will not be too quick to make irredeemable decisions?
Shooting as a competitive sport has much to offer its practitioners but suggesting the gun, as a key to solving far knottier issues, is hardly sage advice.