The Fit India Movement launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi last year has been useful in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic by building fitness and immunity, said Union Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports Kiren Rijiju. He was addressing the Ministerial Forum of Commonwealth countries.
Rijiju shared India’s road to the resumption of sport, post Covid-19, and also to contribute to the creation of a collaborative sports policy in the post-pandemic era.
Speaking at the global forum, which saw participation from all Commonwealth countries Rijiju said, “As members of Commonwealth nations we need to stand in solidarity on all issues, especially at a time like this. I am glad to be on this forum with all other Commonwealth nations to collaborate on the way forward. Most of the points raised here by Ministers from other countries are similar to that of India’s. However, there are some significant learnings and achievements that we have had during this period, which I would like to share.”
He pointed out the importance of citizens staying fit during the pandemic and mentioned the Fit India Movement.
“India has successfully created awareness about the importance of staying fit through a series of dedicated online programmes for citizens on fitness and well-being, all through the pandemic. Experts have shared their advice on health, nutrition, exercises that citizens of all age groups has used successfully,” he added.
Patricia Scotland QC, Secretary-General of the Commonwealth lauded this step by India as a unique initiative to fight the pandemic.
Rijiju also spoke of diversification of sports delivery models and shared how India is successfully running online training programmes for athletes and skill upgradation courses for coaches.
“We have seen participation from thousands of athletes of various levels and coaches who have been hugely benefited by these knowledge enhancement programmes,” he said.
However, in the second phase of lockdown, on-ground training and conducting sporting activities will be the focus of the Indian government, he said.
“The government has allowed some sporting activities with certain restrictions while following a stringent SOP, the guidelines that must be followed by every sporting organisation. I am happy to inform that the training of our elite, Olympic-bound athletes has begun in specialised camps, recently,” the Sports Minister said.
“I have also spoken to the sports ministers of all states and union territories, as well as the National Sports Federations and asked them to slowly resume some sporting events. We need that to boost the confidence of people. I am hopeful India will have sporting events from September or October, even the big leagues in various sports are considering resumption,” he added.
Rijiju also shared the contribution of the youth volunteers of the Youth Affairs Ministry in the fight against COVID-19.
“As Youth Affairs Minister, I have 6 million youth volunteers who have worked relentlessly to help civil bodies and citizens during Covid. Now, they are creating awareness about the new schemes that have been launched by the government to aid the poor in the unlock phase. The government has decided to give free ration to the poor of the country till November, and our volunteers are creating awareness in towns and remote villages about these schemes of the government that they can benefit from,” he said.
While hailing the collaborative spirit of the commonwealth nations Rijiju said, “I must thank the Commonwealth Games Committee for agreeing to add the disciplines of shooting and archery to the 2022 Commonwealth Games. Though these competitions will be held in India and not in the UK, but I still thank the committee for heeding India’s request and feel that this kind of accommodative attitude can strengthen the bond of the Commonwealth Nations.”