Nothing is more satisfying to see our own Kashmir people reaching to the heights in every field especially the sports.
Did you know that India’s No 1 tennis star, right now, is none other than a Kashmiri Pandit girl, Ankita Raina? Yes, you read it right!
Raina is ranked number one in Women’s Single rankings in India. Don’t get confused! (Sania Mirza was ranked No. 1 in the women’s doubles rankings). Besides, Raina has won six singles and seven doubles titles on the ITF tour in her career.
Young Ankita Raina, a Kashmiri Pandit who has lived in Gujarat since 2007, has become the third Indian woman tennis player to make it to the top-200 rankings in singles.
The new poster girl of Indian Tennis!!👍
Congrats and best compliments to our Pulwama girl ANKITA RAINA who is current Indian no. 1 in women’s singles ranker and only 3rd Indian woman tennis player to breach Top-200 rankings.👏👏@ankita_champ @MirzaSania @Maheshbhupathi @Leander pic.twitter.com/QM2PTGQY2y
— New Age Kashmir (@newagekashmir) 17 April 2018
Aged only 25, Ankita has reached 197 ranking in the World Tennis Association (WTA) chart on April 9, 2018.
Previously, this record was held by only two Indian female tennis players – Sania Mirza and Nirupama Vaidyanathan. Tennis star Sania Mirza had reached rank 27 in singles in year 2007 and Nirupama’s rank was 134 in the year 1997.
— Anupam Kher (@AnupamPKher) 28 April 2018
Great Young Achiever from Kashmir, Pulwama
The ace tennis star belongs to South Kashmir’s Tral town in Pulwama district. Her father is from Pinglish village while mother belongs to Drussu village.
Born on 11 January 1993 in Jammu; Raina’s family migrated from Kashmir to Jammu and then to Gujarat, Ahmedabad, where they settled in 2007.
A very talented and promising tennis player; Ankita was introduced to the sport at a young tender age of four. She credits it to her mother, Mrs. Lalita Raina, who herself was a table tennis player and college level athlete in her times.
Ankita Raina is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree at Brihan Maharashtra College of Commerce in Pune. Besides, she is employed with the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC).
The most effective way to do it, is to do it. Congrats and best compliments to our Pulwama girl #ANKITA RAINA for becoming new poster girl of Indian Tennis. She became only 3rd Indian woman tennis player to breach Top-200 rankings. More power to you girl. Keep rocking! https://t.co/c8iyNTzMSq
— Waheed Para (@parawahid) 15 April 2018
The Turning Point
Despite being ranked number one in India, Raina was unable to get the required funding. The turning point in her career came when Prime Minister Narendra Modi (the then Chief Minister of Gujarat) stepped in to ensure that the necessary funding is provided so that she could focus on the game. Since then, Raina has been sponsored by the Sports Authority of Gujarat under the Shaktidhoot scheme.
Thank you sir @narendramodi for believing in a little girl’s dream way back in October 2013 and supporting me in pursuit of my dreams. On my May 22nd I’ll be playing my first Grand Slam ever. #gratitude #firstgrandslamever #dreamcometrue #jaihind pic.twitter.com/gJAhjjSL5l
— Ankita Raina (@ankita_champ) 4 May 2018
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) 6 May 2018
Target Olympic Podium!
Being India’s top-ranking female player; Ankita Raina has now been included in the Government’s Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS).
“I am happy to be in the TOP scheme and would like to thank SAI, AITA, and SAG for all their support. My best performances have always come when playing for the country and I will definitely not fall short of giving my best effort to achieve my aim,” Ankita said.
And here is the 8th athlete who has been added to the TOPS pool.
Wishing you all the best for your future endeavours, Ankita!
Hope you continue making the nation proud.
Many congratulations @ankita_champ ! #TOPSAthlete #SAI pic.twitter.com/LGVxiLdiZA
— SAIMedia (@Media_SAI) 28 April 2018
The Future Ahead!
Raina has gained an entry into the main draw of the 2018 French Open at Roland Garros after being included in the list of qualifiers released recently by the WTA. Calling it a childhood dream, Raina said, “I think words don’t do justice to feelings. My dream has come true, it’s been my dream since I was little. I always used to watch the Grand Slams on the TV and Serena Williams playing and used to ask when will I play there.”
Hats Off to the Undying Spirit of the Kashmiris
Raina has become the first Kashmiri Pandit woman who has been able to make a mark in the field of sports at an international level, that too at such a young age.
Here is wishing the pride of Kashmir, Ankita Raina, all the best for her bright future! Her story will serve as a source of inspiration for the youth of Jammu and Kashmir to pursue their dreams; no matter what the vagaries of life are!
“It starts like a beige tuft of fibre, protruding from a large burlap sack. As we pull it from the hidden source, it gradually reveals itself.”
What’s soft and cuddly, has a touch of class, and is guaranteed to bring a warm glow to even the most unromantic? A pashmina shawl. No wonder it is donned as a family treasure and passed down through generations the world over. The “Soft Gold” or Pashmina as we call it is a prized possession since time immemorial, not just for the household or Kashmir but for the entire nation.
Kashmir has a rich and ancient heritage of craftsmanship. The land of unique motifs and design techniques that have been transformed and perfected over centuries. Mastering Kashmiri craftsmanship takes years of training and designing Pashmina shawls is an art that has been carried forward through generations of craftsmen. To your surprise, a pashmina shawl can take up to 6 months to a year to be made. The legacy is intricately handwoven and embroidered to craft perfection. As a matter of fact, until the 1940s, this precious silk yarn produced in this Valley was exported all over Europe. But to our sorrow, today the craftsmen are fighting the battle of the pashmina. The enemy in this war — inexpensive, imitation pashmina wool that has caused its sales to plummet.
Pashmina is fighting an existential battle. The pashmina industry of Kashmir is a crucial economic contributor to the state and to the country as well. It is one of the largest economic activities providing direct employment to the majority of artisans and traders. This sector also plays an important role in the development and welfare of artisans. The pashmina sector makes the conspicuous contribution in sustaining export trade of the state. However, the industry has seen a decline since late 90‘s. The industry is facing a lot of challenges, some reasons of this are an intervention of modern machinery, lack of information regarding market trends and also increased competition from various countries. The artisans, as well as the traders/manufacturers, are suffering in this struggle of keeping this legacy alive.
Having raised the problem now it’s time for India to fight for pashmina and its market position globally. Artisans and the traders/manufacturers who are related to this trade faces many obstacles like rising cost of raw material, decreased demand due to the introduction of fake pashmina shawls in the market, lack of information regarding market trends and labor rights etc. Artisans face labor problems as well, as they themselves are ready to work on low labor because they don‘t have any other source of earning their livelihood. Also, a majority of the artisans are from the poor economic background and therefore, they mainly face economic problems.
As per traders, arts emporium have lost its glory and haven‘t played the role for which it was meant. As per traders, there have been the cases of arts emporium selling products of angora, toosha, etc in the name of pashmina products. Fake selling of shawls in the name of pashmina products are one of the dreadful threat for customers, due to this reason the perception regarding pashmina in the minds of customers has changed and hence the market situation too.
As mentioned earlier there is an immediate need to reshape our domestic market of Kashmir in order to enhance the pashmina business activities so that the local artisans would themselves know the trend being followed in the market in order to be on top of the market and customer minds. We need to believe and consider the artisans as the backbone of this business and wish for them to be very informative and creative in their work which can be achieved if the gap between market and artisan is reduced. The government has identified pashmina a product with high export potential. It’s high time we put in every possible effort to fight the troubles our Pashmina industry in facing and revive its beauty for generations to follow.