Asian Games 2018

Go to US college or turn pro: India’s No. 1 amateur golfer Diksha Dagar ponders life beyond Asiad

The 17-year-old has a lot of tournaments lined up this year and her final decision could depend on her showing in the Ladies’ European Tour’s qualifying school.

Diksha Dagar will be heading to the Asian Games as India’s number one amateur player but she could shelve her amateur status soon.

For the student of class 12, this year is an important one, not just due to her association with the Asian Games or her academics, but also because she’s on the cusp of making a major career choice.

Dagar, born with a hearing impairment, has won several amateur tournaments in the country and abroad, and has been shooting a range of low scores, according to her own admission. “There are no nerves heading into the Asian Games. It’s like any other tournament for me,” she says.

The 17-year-old left-handed golfer is in the middle of a run which saw her win the Singapore Ladies Amateur Open and post a commendable performance at the Queen Sikrit Cup at Malaysia, leading on day one and posting the lowest ever score by an Indian in the tournament, totalling four-under and ensuring the Indian team finished sixth overall.

The golf course at the Asian Games will be difficult though. “I have played there before at the Indonesian Open. The course there is narrow, it has a lot of bunkers and conditions are windy. On top of that, there are several undulations and fast greens. I have to be mentally prepared for that,” says Dagar.

A native of Jhajjar in Haryana, her father Colonel Narinder Dagar was an golfing hobbyist and took her to the army course in New Delhi often, which is where she undergoes training till this day.

“She was always interested in sports and has played tennis among other sports. With the access I had to army golf courses, it was easy for her to pick up the game. It has been a very encouraging journey so far,” says father Narinder.

Image courtesy:
Image courtesy:

Having started playing on the amateur circuit in 2012, India’s number one amateur, however, has a decision to make once she finishes school: pursue higher education on a sports scholarship in the United States or turn pro.

Father Narinder states that the decision will depend on results on the course. “She has a lot of tournaments lined up. The Asian Games, the World Amateur Championships and the Indian Women’s Open. We will take a decision at the end of the season on whether to turn pro or go to the US. She will only go if she receives a [sports] scholarship.”

A major step for Diksha came at the Women’s Pro Golf event at the DLF Classic Golf and Country Club in New Delhi, where she shot three under-par rounds to win by 11 strokes.

However, the biggest and the most significant tournament for her will arguably be the qualifying school (Q-School) for the Ladies’ European Tour at the end of the year. It is on the LET that Aditi Ashok finished second in 2016.

Dagar says Shubhankar Sharma and Aditi Ashok doing well is a good sign for Indian golf. “Yes, she played well on the LET. I watched Shubhankar Sharma as well. He played very well in the first round [of the PGA Championships]. He was two-under through 17 [holes] but finished with a one-under,” she adds.

For Dagar, qualifying for the LET will provide more vindication of the decision to turn pro. With four tournaments lined up and possibly more, Diksha Dagar heads to the Asian Games in a year where she must make a major career decision.

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Swara Bhasker: Sharp objects has to be on the radar of every woman who is tired of being “nice”

The actress weighs in on what she loves about the show.

This article has been written by award-winning actor Swara Bhasker.

All women growing up in India, South Asia, or anywhere in the world frankly; will remember in some form or the other that gentle girlhood admonishing, “Nice girls don’t do that.” I kept recalling that gently reasoned reproach as I watched Sharp Objects (you can catch it on Hotstar Premium). Adapted from the author of Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn’s debut novel Sharp Objects has been directed by Jean-Marc Vallée, who has my heart since he gave us Big Little Lies. It stars the multiple-Oscar nominee Amy Adams, who delivers a searing performance as Camille Preaker; and Patricia Clarkson, who is magnetic as the dominating and dark Adora Crellin. As an actress myself, it felt great to watch a show driven by its female performers.

The series is woven around a troubled, alcohol-dependent, self-harming, female journalist Camille (single and in her thirties incidentally) who returns to the small town of her birth and childhood, Wind Gap, Missouri, to report on two similarly gruesome murders of teenage girls. While the series is a murder mystery, it equally delves into the psychology, not just of the principal characters, but also of the town, and thus a culture as a whole.

There is a lot that impresses in Sharp Objects — the manner in which the storytelling gently unwraps a plot that is dark, disturbing and shocking, the stellar and crafty control that Jean-Marc Vallée exercises on his narrative, the cinematography that is fluid and still manages to suggest that something sinister lurks within Wind Gap, the editing which keeps this narrative languid yet sharp and consistently evokes a haunting sensation.

Sharp Objects is also liberating (apart from its positive performance on Bechdel parameters) as content — for female actors and for audiences in giving us female centric and female driven shows that do not bear the burden of providing either role-models or even uplifting messages. 

Instead, it presents a world where women are dangerous and dysfunctional but very real — a world where women are neither pure victims, nor pure aggressors. A world where they occupy the grey areas, complex and contradictory as agents in a power play, in which they control some reigns too.

But to me personally, and perhaps to many young women viewers across the world, what makes Sharp Objects particularly impactful, perhaps almost poignant, is the manner in which it unravels the whole idea, the culture, the entire psychology of that childhood admonishment “Nice girls don’t do that.” Sharp Objects explores the sinister and dark possibilities of what the corollary of that thinking could be.

“Nice girls don’t do that.”

“Who does?”

“Bad girls.”

“So I’m a bad girl.”

“You shouldn’t be a bad girl.”

“Why not?”

“Bad girls get in trouble.”

“What trouble? What happens to bad girls?”

“Bad things.”

“What bad things?”

“Very bad things.”

“How bad?”

“Terrible!!!”

“Like what?”

“Like….”

A point the show makes early on is that both the victims of the introductory brutal murders were not your typically nice girly-girls. Camille, the traumatised protagonist carrying a burden from her past was herself not a nice girl. Amma, her deceptive half-sister manipulates the nice girl act to defy her controlling mother. But perhaps the most incisive critique on the whole ‘Be a nice girl’ culture, in fact the whole ‘nice’ culture — nice folks, nice manners, nice homes, nice towns — comes in the form of Adora’s character and the manner in which beneath the whole veneer of nice, a whole town is complicit in damning secrets and not-so-nice acts. At one point early on in the show, Adora tells her firstborn Camille, with whom she has a strained relationship (to put it mildly), “I just want things to be nice with us but maybe I don’t know how..” Interestingly it is this very notion of ‘nice’ that becomes the most oppressive and deceptive experience of young Camille, and later Amma’s growing years.

This ‘Culture of Nice’ is in fact the pervasive ‘Culture of Silence’ that women all over the world, particularly in India, are all too familiar with. 

It takes different forms, but always towards the same goal — to silence the not-so-nice details of what the experiences; sometimes intimate experiences of women might be. This Culture of Silence is propagated from the child’s earliest experience of being parented by society in general. Amongst the values that girls receive in our early years — apart from those of being obedient, dutiful, respectful, homely — we also receive the twin headed Chimera in the form of shame and guilt.

“Have some shame!”

“Oh for shame!”

“Shameless!”

“Shameful!”

“Ashamed.”

“Do not bring shame upon…”

Different phrases in different languages, but always with the same implication. Shameful things happen to girls who are not nice and that brings ‘shame’ on the family or everyone associated with the girl. And nice folks do not talk about these things. Nice folks go on as if nothing has happened.

It is this culture of silence that women across the world today, are calling out in many different ways. Whether it is the #MeToo movement or a show like Sharp Objects; or on a lighter and happier note, even a film like Veere Di Wedding punctures this culture of silence, quite simply by refusing to be silenced and saying the not-nice things, or depicting the so called ‘unspeakable’ things that could happen to girls. By talking about the unspeakable, you rob it of the power to shame you; you disallow the ‘Culture of Nice’ to erase your experience. You stand up for yourself and you build your own identity.

And this to me is the most liberating aspect of being an actor, and even just a girl at a time when shows like Sharp Objects and Big Little Lies (another great show on Hotstar Premium), and films like Veere Di Wedding and Anaarkali Of Aarah are being made.

The next time I hear someone say, “Nice girls don’t do that!”, I know what I’m going to say — I don’t give a shit about nice. I’m just a girl! And that’s okay!

Swara is a an award winning actor of the Hindi film industry. Her last few films, including Veere Di Wedding, Anaarkali of Aaraah and Nil Battey Sannata have earned her both critical and commercial success. Swara is an occasional writer of articles and opinion pieces. The occasions are frequent :).

Watch the trailer of Sharp Objects here:

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This article was published by the Scroll marketing team with Swara Bhasker on behalf of Hotstar Premium and not by the Scroll editorial team.