Saina finally gets honorarium for girl child campaign

Saina finally gets honorarium for girl child campaign

It took eight long years for the Union Health Ministry to pay a princely sum of Rs 5 lakh to badminton ace Saina Nehwal, who was promised the money way back in 2006.

Within months of Saina making her mark on the global scene by winning the Philippines Open after entering the tournament as 86th seed, the Ministry roped her as an ambassador for girl child campaign. Then Health Secretary P C Hota promised an honorarium of Rs 5 lakh for the rising shuttler after acquiring approval from UPA-I Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss.

But she never received the payment, thanks to the ministry’s internal bureaucratic wrangling. After a few months and shuffling of bureaucrats, the ministry too forgot the promise. Meanwhile, Saina advanced in her career to become one of the world’s top players. She attained a career best ranking of world number two in December 2010 and finally won the bronze medal at the London Olympics in August 2012.

A few months back, when one of the officials met Saina and asked if she was interested in promoting some of the activities of the Health Ministry, the shuttler narrated her previous experience. She also showed a letter written by Hota documenting the promise.
Subsequently, old files were recalled from the record room to cross check the veracity of her claim. When it was established that the fault entirely lay with the Ministry, a fresh initiative was launched to fulfil the assurance made to the Arjuna and Khel Ratna awardee. Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad too gave his nod.

Finally, last week ministry officials flew to Hyderabad to hand over the cheque to Saina who touched base after two months of hectic foreign tours, sources told Deccan Herald.
She has now assured officials to be a part of any future health promotion activity. But no decision has been taken as the file is still doing the rounds in the ministry.

Former Indian cricketer and batting legend Rahul Dravid was recently roped in by the ministry for its anti-tobacco campaign. Earlier, superstar Amitabh Bachhan was the ministry’s ambassador for polio campaign whereas tennis player Sania Mirza too featured in girl child campaign following her victory in the junior Wimbledon tennis tournament in 2003.

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