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Andrea is our asset let us protect her (7/4/2013)
--K. Arumugam
Andrea Thumshirn is an Indian asset, let us protect her

She is a German born travel related business women, but got obsessed with India, and chose to settle in a place that most Indians would find it difficult to locate – on the highway between two famous tourists spots of India, Jaipur in Rajasthan and Agra in Uttar Pradesh – to realize her life’s dream, dream of doing something different and that which will make others smile, especially the most neglected of Indians living in remote and neglected part of our motherland.

undefined Her language is hockey through which she connected to the village she chose to settle, introduced about one hundred boys and girls of that village the sport, and then took interest in their social upliftment and for that started constructing a school with the help of volunteers, which includes some of them from her motherland.

Developing hockey in India is difficult task, or for that matter doing something for the society too. As most people content with their own career -- or spoiling others – there is a strong tendency not to contribute to the society at large. A social worker, as I do through my One Thousand Hockey Legs, am quite aware and has on hand experience, is always doubted for intentions and everyone feels and doubts there is something beyond 'that fellow's social work', ' 'We don't know his motives' such things.

Andrea must have faced all such things, and passed out quite admirably with her focus on the job. She trained her wards, gave them exposure in terms of competitions, kept all her activities open through social media and other tools; one can, if interested, trace her activities hourly basis!

In a short span of time, she is a known face in the fast diminishing Indian hockey community; for instance, was invited by the owners of Ranchi Rhinos to Ranchi to witness the final of the Hockey India League, and then as recently as last month, she was there in Pune for the National Championship final. undefined

Her team was given direct entry for the prestigious Nehru Cup (Under-15) competition last year, and the Delhi based Hockey Citizen Group and her team signed an Memorandum last year to have an annual Dhamal series. Media too took her seriously, and have been write ups on her periodically.

Meanwhile, ever-trying Andrea thought of laying a synthetic turf in Garh Himmat Singh, and did indeed bring a second hand one, an activity that would have consumed 2-3 years for any Indian government agencies!

Then came the shocker.

Some mischief mongers, with the help of equally mischief mongering media, coloured her work with unimaginable and non-existing motives, and saw that the day the truck carrying turf from Mumbai turned out not a day of joy but something different.

According to her posting in her official facebook page (, this is what had occurred:

“The night after the first truck load of astro turf reached, the ground was blocked with huge stones. I got a call in the morning from my girls, they said Andrea Police is on the ground, there is a problem, please you come... The Sarpanch and the police and around 200 citizens of Mandawar were there…. After the first shock, we decided to unload the second truck in our village and in the next night we got the rest of the astro turf our of Mandawar to our village. All that is written in the objection is pure nonsense, would the people have done their homework, they would know that this ground belongs to the government, will be guilt by the government and got sanctioned by the District Collector…. They do not even know that Hockey is the national sports!!!

So, as religion, politics, nationality, motive, and every sensitive things that go with a respect loving, social minded person like Andrea, is questioned though by a fraction of society -- but all mischievous and trigger-happy ones -- Andrea is certainly going through a difficult phase in her chosen volunteer life.

She is determined to go ahead, and its now duty of Indian civil society to ensure her work goes on undisturbed, and prove India offers level playing field to everyone. undefined

What Andrea should now keep vigil is not the enemies who came out openly on the ground, they are at least open enough to express themselves, but the white colour ones who express sympathy and help but would never reflect those in action, about whom she must be familiar with by now.

Meanwhile, it is apt to say that the likes of Andreas and Andreu Enriches -- the young Spaniard runs a hockey institution in Anantpur in Andhra Pradeh-- are Indian assets, whose hearts brim with humanity for others whom they hardly know, whose lives they want to transform from ignorance and disinterested to enlightened and motivated, and for that they volunteer to spend their valuable youth, and thus face difficulties as Andrea is right now.

In a country where social service is a taboo, a social worker is an object of ridicule, and the public at large conveniently believes ‘a poor is poor because God destined him to be so’, those who wishes to change the fortunes of kids though sports and education – which incidentally are ideological moorings of Andrea and Andreu – are real assets of India. Its time India should stand behind its asset called Andrea.

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