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If Budhia runs a marathon his health can be ruined forever

June 7, 2007

Some are calling it child abuse and I am inclined to agree. The fact is that six year old Budhia who ran a marathon last year at the age of five and who fainted before he could complete it – is being abused. Just that his guardian-cum-coach, Biranchi Das doesn’t know it or pretends he doesn’t. After all pots of money is being made from the kid – from public appearances and music videos. Not to mention the publicity that he has generated since last year.

In India, making children work for their upkeep or making money from their earnings is not considered a crime, not in the eyes of society. And in this case, it wasn’t work in the true sense because the boy was being made a celebrity. Who doesn’t care to become famous?

Well…children. They don’t really care and they don’t really understand. A six year old for gods sake!

Thankfully, the walkathon/marathon planned for yesterday, the sixth of June has been banned by the cops. Guess what the poor six-year old was expected to do? Walk/run from Bhubaneswar in Orissa and finish in Calcutta, in West Bengal – an eleven day walk covering 500 kms in temperatures over 40 degrees!

And all this for what? Das, the coach wants the kid to qualify for the 2016 Olympics! The mother, Sukanti Singh is all for putting her son through this. Her point of view? She wants to know where the government was when they were all starving! In her words as quoted in Dailyindia:

Where were they when Budhia was starving? Has the committee ever thought of giving food and shelter to us? If being a mother, I am not feeling pained, then who are they to put such a ban?

This from a mother who had sold him once. Well, that it is how it is. If parents feel they own the kids, this is what they are going to do. And never mind if doctors have warned that the excessive running might cause an early onset of osteo-arthritis, which could make the child a cripple in later years. The child might also suffer from cardiomegaly (enlargement of the heart) and its attendant complications.

Its a known fact that marathon running can harm children. Although long distance running by itself may not be bad for kids, there are strict guidelines which need to be adhered to. As this site says:

The two most important differences (between children and adults) to keep in mind in regard to long distance running are heat (both accumulation and dissipation) and aerobic capacity…children often accumulate heat faster than adults. The combination of exercise, warm environmental temperatures, and a higher metabolic rate in children causes them to produce more heat than adults. It has been reported that children also have fewer sweat glands than adults and do not cool themselves as efficiently. These two factors combined put children at greater risk of heat illness while exercising.

Maximum running distances for children of different ages are as follows:

Below the age of 9 – 1.5 miles
From the ages of 9 to 11 – 3.2 miles
From the ages of 12 to 14 – 6.4 miles
From the ages of 15 to 16 – 13.1 miles
At age 17 – 19.2 miles
At age 18 – Marathon: 26.2 miles

During training a child should not run more than twice the competition distance…but god knows how much practice they have been putting Budhia through. If he was expected to cover a distance of 500 kms in 11 days, this works out to over 45 kms a day, and therefore during his practice sessions he must have been forced to run at least that much? And do his parents have any idea of the diet that he requires? Last year when doctors examined Budhia, he was found to be undernourished.

And even if a child runs a reasonable distance as per the health requirements and eats a proper diet, there remains the question of burnout. Today, children in the race to become high achievers (specially sports people) ruin their bodies. All in the quest for celebrity and money. But at least they may be old enough to know what they doing. Budhia doesn’t.

(Photo credits: Dailymail)

9 Comments leave one →
  1. June 7, 2007 11:57 am

    Buddhia was to walk for less than 100 kms along with 100 odd people over a period of 11 days. His walking time would have been limited to 5am-6am and 5 pm and 6 pm. He was supposed to be only the mascot of the sports rally and his participation only symbolic.
    You have also said: “After all pots of money is being made from the kid – from public appearances and music videos.” Do you know how Buddhia’s coach runs his Judo Hall on a daily basis? Buddhia is only one of the 700 poor children he has looked after over the years. Some of them are employed with the state police and the CRPF. He has been offering FREE training to just any one who joins Judo Hall as a member. Buddhia is only one of the 15 poor children who stay in Judo Hall and the coach Biranchi Das takes care of their food and other expenses apart from training. Biranchi has been patronising children from slums and taking care of their future. Buddhia is only the most famous of them.
    Basant Dalei a national (Junior) Judo gold winner is one of the children who are still with him. Basant is the son of a maid servant and stays in a slum. Had Biranchi been a greedy person why would he refuse to accept even a pie from his Judo students ?
    It is in the greater interest of Buddhia who is fortunate to be under the care of a man like Biranchi Das.
    20-year long period. Buddhia happened just a year ago. What about the last 19 years of Biranchi’s mission to give a life of dignity to the urchin out on the streets !

  2. June 7, 2007 12:13 pm

    Mr Sudhanshu, I have quoted authentic news sources about the facts. Not one, but several sources, both Indian and international.
    If Budhia was indeed only doing what you say, then do you think the govt is an idiot to ban the march? And ALL news reports are wrong?
    Also, kindly refrain from making personal comments (they have been deleted). Please read the comment policy because another personal remark from you and your comment will not be published. In fact I am inclined to blacklist people who deliberately provide wrong facts just to prove their point.
    And no one can deny what has already happened. When Budhia was five he became a celebrity after his non-stop 65-km run from Puri to Bhubaneshwar in 2005. The Limca Book of Records had also recorded his feat on May 2, 2006. This can be read at the following place:

    So please do not give wrong information here about ‘symbolic’ walks.

  3. June 7, 2007 3:02 pm

    By the way, you are right. The Orissa government has indeed behaved like an idiot all this while. Don’t you know how the governments over the years and across the world have behaved with individuals they don’t like? First they were head over heels with little Buddhia’s achievement. He and his coach were felicitated by the chief minister, the governor and a host of ministers after he ran 65 kms at a stretch for the first time (before the Limca Run). The chief minister presented Buddhia with a trophy that had a 100 km milestone set against the background of a kid running…Things changed after the minister of women and child development department had a personal fight with Buddhia’s coach.
    Then the state women and child development department ordered a crackdown on Buddhia and his coach through a district child welfare committee which had people handpicked by the minister. The chairman is a former lower court judge who was in the dock for granting bail to a drug peddler. These people made life hell for both but DID NOT EVEN REACT to repeated marathon runs by 4 other children in the same state – 10 year old Anastasia Barla in Sundargarh, 7 year old Mrityunjay Mandal in Berhampur, 12 year old Dilip Rana in Puri and 6 year old Rajalaxmi in Bhadrak. WHY ? Should the government target Buddhia alone and apply the Juvenile Justice Act against him and his coach and not even seek an explanation from their coaches and parents. You do not know of them because they are not celebrities like Buddhia Singh.
    I am based in Orissa and I have been watching Buddhia & co as well as the state government. If you ever come to Bhubaneswar you would see the reality from close quarters and I am sure you would curse yourself for trusting the reports published and carried in the media.
    And finally, let me inform you that in a written underataking before the Chld Welfare Committee a week ago, Buddhia’s mother Sukanti Singh had clearly spelt out the extremely limited role of Buddhia Singh in the walkathon and that he would cover the distance mostly by car etc. The courts are known to accept affidavits filed before them. But in this case the CWC chose to reject it because it felt the affidavit is false. How did the CWC know that Buddhia will not stick to the terms and conditions spelt out in the affidavit? Are the CWC members astrologers? It’s clear that their sole purpose is to persecute Buddhia and his coach by hook or by crook. Buddhia ran 65 kms once in 2005 and once in 2006. Since then he has been prevented from even running a 3 km race meant to collect funds for an orphanage!
    I would not like to say anything any further. You are free to crosscheck things with whatever sources you choose to.

  4. rajaram permalink
    June 7, 2007 7:23 pm

    Hi Nita,

    I regulary chk ur blog, but rarely post comments. About Bhuddia’s issue, i think we shud look at both sides of the coin. Maybe, since we are not close to the place where the incident is taking place we might not knw the real facts — the ground situation. We generally tend to go with what the media is thnking in all such cases where we dont have a first-hand experience.

    And let me be clear in saying that I am not supporting that the boy should be allowed to take up this marathon or such. What i want to convey is, there could be some truth is what Sudhanshu is saying. There is politics everywhere.

    Okay. Now the boy’s feat has been entered into Limca’s record, so why cant the state sports body can take charge of such a boy’s future growth if the govrnmnt feels like he is being abused or exploited? That’s my only question.

    Thanks for such regular blog updates which are really thought provoking.

    With regards,

  5. June 7, 2007 8:38 pm

    Nita, Budhia is not the only child who needs attention of our govt. There is so much fuss about Budhia still nobody cares about hundreds of other poor children who are sold by their parents because they can’t afford to feed them. The conditions of our orphanages and reform centres are no secret and nobody bothers.

  6. June 7, 2007 9:43 pm

    True. Budhia is just one example.
    I have written about the condition of our poor children in several posts.

  7. June 8, 2007 10:49 am

    Rajaram, I was thinking of what you wrote and this is my response:
    1) By pointing fingers at others (like Sudhanshu has done) it doesn’t absolve oneself of guilt. If Budhia is running a marathon the person responsible has to own the responsibility. He cannot get away by saying other children are doing it. In this way anyone accused of wrongdoing will say the same thing. Others are doing it, why not catch them? this is what Tavleen Singh said when she refused to pay a fine for letting her dog shit on the pavement. She said hundreds of others are doing it, so catch them first. Well, I am completely against this kind of thinking and have written a post on this.
    2) The reports about Budhia have appeared in several mainstream newspapers, both national and international. None of the reports are from an unknown regional newspaper. So cross-checking the facts does not arise. India has not yet become such a country that ALL mainstream newspapers write lies.
    3) Also it has been proved beyond doubt that the boy was made to run 65 kms on one day (god know how much he ran on practice days) as its in the records. True, the govt. encouraged the efforts and it was wrong in doing so. This does not excuse the the coach.
    4) Yes, the govt. could have done something for Budhia and scores of other kids. But then, the govt. should do a lot for a lot of poor people. This cannot be an excuse to make the child run a distance which his age does not allow.
    I believe what the mainstream media has reported, that the child has been exploited, and frankly the evidence is there to see. As I said, its in the records.

  8. June 10, 2007 12:32 am

    Everyone has the right to his or her views. Thanks for accomodating my views in your site. I love Budhia and I want him to grow in a planned manner, thats all.


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