The latest in a long list of Indian athletes suffering due to rigid university rules is all set to get longer this year unless urgent action is taken.
One of India's brightest young golfers, Arjuna awardee Shubhankar Sharma is on the verge of losing out on his BA (Hons) Political Science degree due to the clash between his exams and his international sporting schedule. Despite several visits to Delhi University offices by his father, the University has refused to allow him to take his exams after his foreign tour.
Shubhankar, who hails from Jammu, had shot into limelight in late 2017 with a Joburg Open win that won him a European Tour card along with a place in the 2018 Open Championship. In 2018, he won another title in February and broke into the world Top-100. At the 2018 World Golf Championships event in Mexico, his first PGA Tour event, Shubhankar thrilled all Indian golf fans and stole the spotlight by leading two rounds before ending T-9th. This show earned him an invitation to the prestigious Masters in April. The Chandigarh-based 22-year-old then went on to play all four majors in 2018.
Despite such a stellar show, Mohan Sharma, Shubhankar's father, is struggling to get his son a chance to sit for his final year exams. The golfer has completed his 1st and 2nd year, but given his enormous rise in the last two years, could not sit for his final year exam. 2019 in his final chance before his degree lapses.
Speaking to Republic TV, Shubhankar says, “I feel that’s one of the reasons why we are not a sporting nation in every sense of the word. I feel that with the Olympics so close in 2020 and with the ‘Khelo India’ initiative by Colonel Rathore, I think it is the least that the educational institutions like Delhi University can do for kids like me to pursue their careers. I’ve done two years already and it’d be a shame if I can’t give the exams this year and I’ll lose the first two years as well.
"So this is just a humble request from my end to Delhi University and other educational institution to promote sports and encourage kids that are representing the country because I feel it’s the least that can be done. I just hope they take notice, if they provide help in any way, which will be really appreciated.”
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"Our request is that Shubhankar can be allowed to finish his exams either after his international events. Since DU, School of Open learning conducts yearly exams in May-June window, it is making it impossible for him to appear because he has his main playing schedule in USA and Europe at the time. Shubhankar is currently the highest-ranked Indian golfer and very much in the running to qualify for Tokyo 2020 Olympics and cannot afford to skip big events,"said Mohan Sharma while speaking to Republic TV. Only two players from each country are allowed entry outside of the World Top-15.
Mr. Sharma has been visiting offices of Executive Director, SOL Prof HC Pokhriyal, Dean (Exams) Prof Vinay Gupta, Director of the Sports Council Anil Kumar Kalkal since last year and even spoke to the office of the VC Mr. Yogesh Tyagi. He says while everyone has been nice, giving him a hearing, he is yet to get any commitment or forward movement from them. He laments, 'I seem to have become a football between them all.'
The basic reason being given to Shubhankar and father is that there is no provision to allow students to sit for exams apart from the scheduled dates and if Shubhankar is allowed, then others will also ask for the same. "My response to them has been any and all deserving athletes, who are earning laurels for the country, should be allowed this leeway. It is an easy fix to make just like several universities do."
It is important to note here that Mumbai University has in April announced a decision to allow students who participate in sports events to give their exams within 30 days of schedule in a major relief for athletes at all levels.
Sharma Sr stated that with ‘Khelo India’, PM Narendra Modi too has been providing an impetus to sports in the country. His father stated that they even wrote to Union Minister Colonel Rajyvardhan Rathore about and the latter took the matter further, but nothing has materalised yet.
He also spoke about Sachin Tendulkar appreciating a similar move of Mumbai University on Twitter.
Despite repeated attempts, there was no response to calls to DU Dean Exams. This report will be updated as and when a response is available.