At a time when girls are being hero worshipped after the Rio Olympics for ensuring India does not return empty handed, India’s tiny Jalpari as she is called is brimming with life. Shradhha Shukla is back to her swimming ways and this time with the determination that soon enough she will achieve the Olympic dream.
A girl who has been known to break her own records she is swimming from Kanpur to Varanasi to break a record. But there is also another side to it. Call it a coincidence or a choice well thought out she swims in the Ganges to save it from going impure.
Shradhha wants to see to it that Ganges gets back its prestine purity and glory, giving a push to PM Modi’s Namami Gange campaign. Shraddha is swimming her way to Varanasi in a monsoon fed Ganga covering 570 km in 10 days with refreshment and washroom breaks equivalent of 13 Olympic marathons of 42.195 km on land.
While she has chosen to swim 60km a day, taking a break every four to five hours she recently in Allahabad even took ill with some throat infection. She also faced criticism from some quarters who say that she hardly swims.
But she is not nervous. She is infact confident that she will complete her challenge.
The girl from Kanpur’s Cantonment area has been swimming since one, under the watchful eyes of father-coach Lalit Shukla.
Shraddha was introduced to water by grandfather Munnu Lal Shukla who brought her to the Ganga at age one.
She swam 10km from Ganga Barrage to Siddhnath ghat at age six and 6km from Kanpur to Unnao a year later.
On March 25, 2014, she set a record of sorts when she swam the Ganga from Kanpur to Allahabad (282.5 km).
Despite Ganga being at her furious best, Shraddha has taken the plunge.
She aims to conclude at the Gau Ghat in Varanasi on the 10th day.
Locals speaking to the media say that if given formal training she could very well bring laurels to the country.
Filmmaker Vinod Kapri meanwhile has created some discomfort with him saying that the girl according to him mostly stayed on the boat. For him the father is hoodwinking the people of the country by portraying her as Jalpari. While Uma Bharti has praised the girl, Kapri says as soon as the ghat would be visible she would be lowered in the water and she would swim up to the ghat. He says he got to know of this fact when he was shooting for a documentary on her.
Kapri claims that while the father talked of Shradhha swimming 80 to 100 kilometres, in reality she was just swimming 3 to 4 kilomentres.
Nevertheless we wish the little Jalpari the very best. May she one day do India proud at the Olympics. Afterall noone knows what the future holds.