Without honour, world amateur chess champion from Ludhiana expects the government to change him

After becoming world amateur chess champion four years ago, 40-year-old Arvinder Preet Singh had only one thing in mind: a career in the game.

But he soon realized that his accomplishments or skills weren’t enough to frustrate his struggles as he was denied the opportunities he was promised, and began running from pillar to post to land a job in Punjab Police.

After Arvinder won the championship in 2018, the then CM referred his case to the athletic department on May 21.

Acting on this, then Director, Sports, Punjab on June 15, 2018 requested DGP to recruit Arvinder as DSP. To which, on September 24, the DGP replied to the Director of Sports, saying that no chess player had ever been recruited into the Punjab Police.

Instead, he asked the athletic department to ask the state government to give the player a job.

Disheartened but still trying to hold on, Arvinder wrote to former CM Capt Amarinder Singh, Sports Minister Rana Gurmit Singh Sodhi, Sports Director Amrit Kaur Gill and then Punjab DGP Suresh Arora asking for his appointment as DSP.

In his letters to concerned officials, he said that since the state government has appointed international sportsmen from Punjab including cricketer Harmanpreet Kaur from Moga and wrestler Navjot Kaur from Tarn Taran as DSPs in the police of Punjab, why was he not left out?

After years of struggle, Arvinder, a BCA, had to take a job with the Railways in 2005. Later in 2011, he became a technician before finally being appointed as a junior engineer in the Mechanical Department of the Railways in February 2020 after clearing his promotion exams.

He also won another international championship in Hong Kong but never received what he deserved.

He went on to win the national amateur winner at Jalandhar and became the only Punjabi to win the prestigious chess titles of FIDE Master and FIDE Instructor.

Returning from Italy after winning the world championship, Arvinder was disheartened to see no government officials at the airport to greet and honor him.

“It is unfortunate that only cricketers or hockey players are honored. I never received financial support from the government to participate in any of the international tournaments, but I still made sure to earn the respect of my country,” he said.

“Politics sometimes hinders the growth of players. Today, a chess player from Bathinda who won a silver medal in the amateur championship was able to obtain a grade A certificate, which either an Olympian or those who excel at the international level obtain. Now he will soon become an excise and tax officer. I pocketed a gold medal but was denied the same,” Arvinder said.

When asked why Arvinder had not received the benefits, local district sports officer Ravinder Singh said the decision on his recruitment should be taken by higher authorities in the sports department and the government.


    Nikhil Sharma is a staff journalist who covers Faridkot district in Mansa region of Punjab.
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