Gujarat now weighs pros and cons of population control bill | India News

2012 Olympic torchbearer toils at tea garden for 167/day | India News

DIBRUGARH: As she sprinted through a Nottinghamshire street with the Olympic torch in her hands back in 2012, Pinky Karmakar from Assam’s Dibrugarh district would have thought her dream run had just begun. The then 17-year-old had returned home from the London Olympics opening ceremony to a welcome befitting a medal winner.
Union minister and former CM Sarbananda Sonowal, who was the Dibrugarh MP at the time, received her at the airport. A cavalcade of cars and motorbikes escorted the open-top vehicle from which she waved to cheering crowds all the way to the tea garden where she lived.
Nine years and two Olympics later, Pinky – now 26 – works as a daily-wage leaf plucker at Borborooah tea estate, earning Rs 167 a day. The girl who used to run Unicef’s Sports for Development (S4D) programme in her school and teach about 40 unlettered women every evening is now her impoverished family’s breadwinner. Besides her retired father, she has to look after a younger brother and two sisters.
“I had big dreams, but now there is nothing left to hope. After my mother’s death, I had to drop out of college due to acute financial hardship and start working as a labourer in the tea garden,” Pinky said. When she had been selected to carry the torch at the London Olympics, Pinky was in Class 10. She was picked to represent India in recognition of her community work under the International Inspiration Programme, the official legacy theme of London 2012.
It was when Pinky was pursuing a BA degree at Dibru College that life took a turn for the worse. She laments that the girl who was the toast of her community is “no longer important” for anyone. “I cannot give advice to anyone. Everyone questions me what I have achieved in life. The government and Unicef have abandoned me,” she said.
Pinky claims she had been promised “remuneration” for representing India at the torch relay. “Till date, I have not received anything. The truth is that the daughter of a labourer has remained a labourer.”

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