“Happy to be among vidvaans (the knowledgeable)," said Prime Minister Narendra Modi when he interacted with the Paralympic medal-winning duo of shuttler-cum-bureaucrat Suhas Yathiraj and archer-cum-economics scholar Harvinder Singh at a breakfast meeting this morning.
Suhas, who won a silver medal, is currently serving as District Magistrate of Noida, while Harvinder, the first Indian to win an archery medal at the Games, is a Ph.D. scholar in Economics.
The PM was hosting the Paralympians and their coaches and support staff at his residence to celebrate the record-breaking 19 medals, including five gold, won by the 54-strong contingent.
“He began the chat by saying he is happy to be among a table of Vidvaans. He lauded Harvinder’s initiative of pursuing doctorate studies and added that this shatters a myth that studies and sports are mutually exclusive," an official source told PTI.
That was not all, Modi seemed well aware of the varied interests of the athletes, including shooter Avani Lekhara, who won a gold and a bronze to become the first Indian woman to achieve such a feat.
The 19-year-old, who is paralysed waist down, had spoken about how she got inspired to excel by reading Abhinav Bindra’s autobiography.
Modi urged all athletes to read the life stories of inspiring people from all walks of life to enhance their worldview.
The PM also had a word with javelin thrower Devendra Jhajharia, who won a silver this time after gold medals in 2004 and 2016, reminding him of a promise he made to him — to visit the Statue of Unity with his family in Gujarat.
The source said that PM interacted with each and every athlete present and asked about their families.