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8 Feb, 2024 15:41

Serbian tennis star sparks controversy with India comments

Dejana Radanovic visited the South Asian nation recently for mid-level tournaments
Serbian tennis star sparks controversy with India comments

Serbian tennis star Dejana Radanovic has sparked controversy online for criticizing living conditions in India after taking part in mid-level tournaments in Bengaluru, Pune, Indore, and Mumbai earlier this year. Following her defeat to India’s Vaidehi Chaudhari via a walkover in Mumbai, Radanovic expressed dissatisfaction with her stay in the country, leading to backlash on social media.

”Adios India, see you never ever ever ever ever EVER again,” she wrote on Instagram. Another post read: “Hello civilization. Only those who have experienced something like India for 3 weeks can understand the feeling.” Radanovic claimed to have been made ill by eating fruit in the country during a previous visit.

People took exception to the comments on social media. “Coming from a white person this reeks of racism,” claimed one individual on X (formerly Twitter). “Nobody forced you to drink tap water.” Another user wondered whether the Serbian athlete was being forced to play in India at gunpoint, seeing as she had exhibited “so much hate.”

As anger simmered on the internet, the athlete changed the settings on her Instagram page to restrict comments. A day later, she took to the platform again, questioning why her remarks had been classed as racism. She specified what she didn’t like about India: the food, traffic, and hygiene.

”If you come to my country, Serbia, and you don’t like all those same things, that means you are a racist?” she asked.

The clarification was met with a fresh wave of criticism. One of the comments suggested that Radanovic has “doubled down” on her earlier claims. ”You know she could have just said nothing and everyone would have forgotten about the story in like a week,” an individual wrote on Reddit. Another user advised her to “stop digging” a hole. Others compared her remarks to comments about India by US basketball star Kevin Durant after visiting the country in 2017.

”You see cows in the street, monkeys running around everywhere, hundreds of people on the side of the road, a million cars, and no traffic violations. Just a bunch of underprivileged people there and they want to learn how to play basketball. That was really, really dope to me,” Durant said at the time, causing outrage among Indians.

In the past decade, the government of the world’s most populous nation has launched several initiatives to improve water, sanitation, and hygiene conditions. These include the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (Clean India Mission), which was launched in 2014, and the National Rural Drinking Water Program, aimed at improving the coverage of adequate and safe drinking water for rural Indians. In metro cities such as New Delhi, Mumbai, and Bangalore, many citizen initiatives have addressed challenges at a local level.

India was projected to spend 1.7% of its GDP on transport infrastructure in the last financial year – about twice the level of spending in the US and most European countries, The Economist noted last year. The interim budget presented by the government last week set capital expenditure for the upcoming fiscal year at a historic high of 11.1 trillion rupees ($134 billion). Most of this funding will be used to upgrade the country’s road, rail, air transport, and housing sectors.

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