The sports minister of the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu has been caught on camera asking young female hockey players a series of humiliating questions. Dr S Sundararaj can be heard interrogating the teenagers about their weight and reminding them about the scholarship that they are on.
Local media reported that Sundararaj made the comments during a late night "surprise inspection" of a school in Pudhukottai. India Today reported that the Tamil Nadu sports minister can be heard questioning a young girl about whether she deserved the scholarship money that they were giving her, as well as allegedly asking her questions about whether her earrings were real or fake gold. The alleged incident is believed to have taken place around 8pm on 3 March.
India Today quoted the sports minister as saying to one of the hockey players: "You have put on weight no? We give you Rs250 for feed every day (£2.60, €3) and we give college students Rs200 a month (£2.10 €2.70) You get more than them combined. I will only give you money according to the food you eat."
He then asks another student whether she had won any medals for Tamil Nadu. When the student replies 'no' he reportedly asks: "Why are we feeding her if she is not winning any medals?" He also interrogates a student about whether she had put on weight since joining the hostel and asked whether her parents knew about her putting on weight. When the girl replies that her mother knew but her father didn't, he questions whether the girl's parents were divorced and accused her of not returning home so that they could see her.
Local media reported that the sports minister has rejected charged of humiliating the students, instead saying that he was motivating them to do better. However, many have hit out at Sundararaj for his patronising tone while speaking to the students, as well as his constant reminding of the scholarship money that the state was giving the young hockey players.