Modi’s Call to Make Indigenous Sports Popular, a Timely Step

India’s sporting landscape has started to change for the better as people are taking up sports as full-time career with remarkable improvement in on-field performance. During earlier decades there was an environment in which sports was not pursued as a career. Now this thinking has started to change. Soon the results will be evident on the playground.

Against this backdrop, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has called for making indigenous sports, like kabaddi, popular as well and cited the popularity of yoga as an example of Indian culture. A timely step, indeed. “Today the world is taking renewed interest in Yoga…We have to ensure our traditional games do not lose their popularity. Indigenous games too must be promoted as they have evolved organically from our own way of life,” said the prime minister giving a strong message to boost indigenous sports. Coining a new acronym for SPORTS, Modi said, “Sports is closely linked with the human resource development of a society.

To me, sports includes the following attributes: Skill, Perseverance, Optimism, Resilience, Tenacity and Stamina.” Noting that the youth was always enthusiastic about any sports, Modi noted that governments in the past were not forthcoming in support. Citing the government’s “Khelo India” programme, he said, “Focus will be on identifying talent and then nurturing it by providing support. It also supports sports infrastructure.” The prime minister pitched for developing a strong sporting culture in the country, saying it can help in the growth of a sporting economy. He said, sports is a multi billion dollar industry and it can generate large employment opportunities.

The sports industry sector provides opportunity in different segments such as professional sports equipment and sports sciences, medicines sport personals, apparel, nutrition, skill development, sport management among others. Sport is a multi-billion dollar global industry propelled by enormous consumer demand. India has huge potential in sports. The global sports industry is estimated at around USD 600 billion. In India, the entire sports sector is estimated at USD 2 billion only. Modi said India has no dearth of talent and there is need to provide right kind of opportunity and to create an ecosystem to nurture the talent.

“We have no shortage of talent but we need to provide right kind of oppurtunity and create and eco-system to nurture the talent. We will launch a programme Khelo India. Under this, programmes and competition will be held in varios disciplnes from the school and college level to the national level. Focus will be on identifying talent and the nurturing by providing support,” the prime minister elaborated. Modi said sports is an important investment for the human resource development of a society and it can transform people’s personality.

He said that in today’s inter-connected and inter-dependent world, a nation’s “soft power” was vital. In addition to a nation’s economic and military strength, its soft power was seen as central to its identity and sports is an important part of soft power and a country can carve its own niche through sports, Modi noted. “Sports has become an important part of that soft power,” Modi said. Speaking at the launch of the world class synthetic track at the Usha (PT Usha) School of Athletics at Kinalur in Kerala, Modi said, “Women in the country have made us proud by their achievements in all fields. More so in sports. We must especially encourage our daughters and provide them with oppurtunities to take sports.” The Prime Minister said that during earlier decades there was an environment in which sports was not pursued as a career but now the thinking has begun to change. Modi also asked the sports community to decide on a set of goals when India celebrates 75 years of freedom in 2022.

Sprint queen PT Usha, who addressed the gathering, said one of her great dreams has come true. She said the newly built stadium and synthetic track would immensely help in training budding athletes for international sporting events. Lauding Usha’s contribution in Indian sports, Modi described her as a shining example of sports in the country. “PT Usha has been a shining light of sports in India. She endured several challenges in life and went on to enter Olympics final, missing a medal only by a whisker. In the history of Indian athletics very few have achieved a track record like hers,” he said. He also praised USHA School, saying it was like making the best use of every opportunity by utilising simple and limited resources. Modi said that Usha’s “personal attention and focused approach” had started bringing about good results and her trainees had already started making their mark at the international level. “Ours is a country with rich and diverse culture, which has almost 100 languages and more than 1,600 dialects, different eating habits, dresses and festivals. Sports plays an important role in uniting us,” noted Modi.

“I have always been of the view that in addition to keeping the body healthy, sports also transforms the personality, bringing about holistic development. It instills discipline and ethos of hard work,” he said.Modi said sports provides learnings for life, which enrich thought process of the person. FEATURE “The sports field is a great teacher. One of the best things one learns on the sports field is equanimity — to face victory and defeat — as a part of life,” he said. It is true that India has huge potential in sports. India is a sports-loving country. The passion with which youths watch the Champions Trophy is the same with which they see the EPL football or NBA basketball fixtures and the F1 Races.

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