By P.T. Bopanna
This Republic Day will go down as a memorable one for me because two of the persons whom I had selected as ‘Coorg Person of the Year’ have won the Padma Shri this time.
I have already covered extensively about Rohan Bopanna, who at 43 years, will become the oldest world No. 1 in men’s tennis doubles history.
Chennai-based Kuttanda Joshna Chinappa, a pioneer in women’s squash in India, was ‘Coorg Person of the Year, 2014.’
At a personal level, I had close association with the grandmother of Joshna – Kuttanda Leela, who is a niece of Field Marshall K.M. Cariappa.
Leela’s parents, Biddanda Chengappa and Bollu Chengappa (sister of Field Marshal) were in the Andaman Islands. My parents were also in Andamans and the Chengappas were very fond of my father the late P.M. Thimaiya, who retired as deputy conservator of forests.
Joshna’s grandmother Leela was a student at Lady Irwin College, Delhi, when she was given the responsibility of serving as hostess for General Cariappa when he was the Commander-in-Chief of the Army. This was at the suggestion of Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, who wanted her to take care of the social protocol.
Interestingly, prime minister Narendra Modi is very fond of Joshna and the fact that she is the grandniece of Field Marshal Cariappa. Modi is affectionate towards Joshna whenever they get a chance to interact.
Sharing the article which I wrote when Joshna was selected ‘Coorg Person of the Year, 2014.
POWERHOUSE OF INDIAN SQUASH
Joshna Chinappa, Coorg Person of the Year, 2014
Kuttanda Joshna Chinappa who is based in Chennai, is a pioneer in women’s squash in India. She is the youngest Indian to win the British Open juniors, which she did at the age of 16.
Joshna was awarded the coveted Arjuna award for squash in 2013. She is also a 12-times national champion and reached her career-high world ranking of 10 in the year 2016.
As a feisty youngster, she was first introduced to squash at the Madras Cricket Club, where her father Anjan Chinappa and her mother Sunita were members.
Joshna’s father Anjan Chinappa represented Tamil Nadu in squash. He introduced her to the game when she was very young and was also her first coach. She showed great promise and with unstinting support from her parents, was able to emerge as an international star.
Joshna is the great-granddaughter of the well-known Pemmanda K. Monappa, who retired as the head of Karnataka’s police force and had the rare distinction of serving as head of the police department in three states. She is also the great-grandniece of Field Marshall K.M. Cariappa. Her maternal grandfather, Pemmanda M. Belliappa, a well-known IAS officer of the Tamil Nadu cadre and a philanthropist, was declared Coorg Person of the Year in 2011.
Joshna has been going from strength to strength over the years and has won many coveted national and international tournaments.
In appreciation of Joshna bringing laurels to Tamil Nadu, the Government has appointed her as Deputy Director in the Tamil Nadu Electricity Board. Joshna was the Central Government’s Goodwill Ambassador for the ‘Save the Girl Child Campaign 2005’. An inspiring moment for her was when a few years ago she received a letter from Prime Minister Modi congratulating her on her achievements. She is truly an inspiration to youngsters who dream of excelling in the field of sports.
Source: Coorg Role Models by P.T. Bopanna, Rolling Stone Publications, 2021. Paperback copies of the book available on Amazon: