Pinky Karmakar – a 17-year old girl from the tea community from Dibrugarh district was chosen as the representative from India to carry the torch in the London Olympics. The class ten student from Borborooah tea estate in Dibrugarh was the only representative from India among 20 countries selected for the Olympic torch relay in recognition of her community work under the International Inspiration Programme, the official legacy programme of the London 2012 Olympics. She used to run the ‘Sports for Development’ (S4D) programme in her school introduced by UNICEF for primary school kids and in the evenings she used to teach about 40 women from the tea garden.
On her return home after participating in the London Olympics torch relay held at Nottinghamshire on June 28, 2012, Pinky was accorded a rousing welcome on her arrival at Dibrugarh airport where she was felicitated by many including Sarbananda Sonowal. Later she was led to her home in an open jeep escorted by scores of well-wishers on cars and motorcycles.
However, the adulation proved short-lived for Pinky Karmakar. Now 26, she works as a labourer in Borborooah tea estate to support her family comprising of her father, two sisters and one younger brother. Her father who was a painter in the tea garden had retired in 2015. And after her mother, a tea plucker in the same tea garden died in the same year, Pinky decided to take the job of her mother to support the 5-member family. For her tea plucking work she is paid a paltry daily wage of Rs 167.
“I had big dreams but now there is nothing left to hope. Due to acute financial hardships I have been compelled to work as a labourer in the tea garden for a daily wage of Rs 167. When I was selected from the country to carry the torch in the London Olympics I was studying in class ten. After that I did my Higher Secondary from Rameshwar HS School and then joined Dibru College for my BA. But I had to discontinue my studies due to death of my mother. To support the family I decided to work in the tea garden,” Pinky said.
She added, “Then I was a source of inspiration for many when I was selected to represent the country. But now I’m no longer important for them. I cannot give advice to anyone. Everyone questions me what myself have achieved in my life. The government and even UNICEF has abandoned me after showing big dreams. I was told that for participating in the London Olympics relay event I would be provided some kind of cash remuneration but till date I have not received it. The sad fact is a daughter of a labourer has remained as a labourer.”