When a twelve toe rickshaw puller's daughter clinched the first gold in heptathlon at Asian Games, exquisitely talented flying woman of India, P T Usha who has broken all the stereotype tagged with patriarchy in our Republic is an epitome all around the globe, Milkha Singh, the flying Singh of India who eked out a living by working in a roadside restaurant brought India’s first athletics gold in the history of the games, while when we talk about wielding the stick on field, none other than Padma Bhushan Dhyan Chand comes in our mind who has painted India's name in the history of hockey, a master blaster Sachin Tendulkar, considered as God in India, is not even tenth pass out but has clasped the Bharat Ratna with his abilities and the list of extremely talented sports person is never ending in India. These examples not only talks about the extreme talent we have in our nation but brought laurels to the country despite abject poverty. The incredible exemplar of the players depicts that they are not contingent of the situations, unfavorable conditions. They believe in their hard work and dedication.
I felt so mesmerized after watching the performances in Asian Games. The athletes have fans who are backing them and praying for them. The atmosphere that has been generated in our country for the support of sportspersons is what makes me optimistic. More and more parents are encouraging their children to play and seek a career in sports. They have faith that sports can provide the platform for a healthy and decent future. In spite the crippled administration of sports our players are performing extraordinarily good in comparison to other countries who are spending a hefty amount of money for physical education. But I am convinced that India has arrived as a sporting nation. We must be patient. The day is not far when we will be a force to reckon with on the world stage. This can be seen in a change that for the first time we have an Olympic medalist as Union Sports Minister. This is a welcome change because the athletes are beginning to believe in the system. They are earning respect.
India being one of the populous countries in the world grabs only a few medals in Olympics, Asian Games and in various international mega sports events, which is a shame for the nation which is on development phase and developing with a great pace. It has the world's second-largest population and its ninth largest economy; it's the biggest democracy in existence and one of the oldest nations in history. But India is not very good at winning Olympic medals. Till now India has grabbed only 28 medals (9 Gold, 7 Silver, 12 Bronze) in Olympics after participating for more than a decade whereas China has clinched more than 500 medals. In 2015, the Standing Committee of Parliament presented the report on the performance of national sports development fund, recruitment, and promotion which has raised the serious question on the grim condition of sports. The report included, the United States spends Rs. 22 per player per day, UK spends 50 paise, whereas Jamaica spends 19 paise, but India spends only 3 paise per play. This report says it all about the attention and funds sports gets in India. If we leave behind China, America, Europe but the country like Jamaica has more medal than India which clears the terrific sports culture in our nation. This report also said that people refrain from taking out sports as a career because of the lack of long-lasting secured future. If you rank countries by the total number of Olympic medals they've ever won, India places at the lower rank in the world, tied with Morocco and Thailand, though India has participated in twice as many Olympic games as either country. Indian cricket and field hockey teams are routinely among the world's finest, but today hockey is nowhere to be seen in comparison to the 20th century where the player like Dhyan Chand has stunned the world by his performance.
When we dig deeper, we get to know that people consider sports as an activity that is limited to school and nobody goes beyond that to think of it as a means of earning one's daily bread. Parents refrain from encouraging their children from opting for sports as a career and teachers also lay more emphasis on studies. Sports do not command the same amount of respect as studies. People forget that for overall development sports play a vital role. The reason behind is no scope after certain age limit. Parents want their kid to have a secured future which lacks in sports. Sports and women are the two opposite ends of a pole. The society does not encourage girls to be an active part of sports, moreover they are considered to be delicate creatures and their potential in sports is questioned. We still have the mindset of saying, 'Kheloge kudoge toh banoge kharab, Padhoge likhoge to banoge Nawab.' Sports not only makes you physically fit but teaches you a lot of thing from team spirit to leadership all comes from sports in one's behavior and personality. Indians, over the decades, have been mostly pre-occupied climbing the socio-economic ladder. Consequently, the pool of talent created at the local community, school and university levels, leaves much to be desired both in terms of size and quality. The inclusion of sports in the curriculum is merely a formality without any main focus on sports actually.
POOR SPORTS INFRASTRUCTURE
Sports infrastructure plays a vital role in achieving excellence in the global arena of sports. Lack of facilities at the grass root level is a major problem. Schools and colleges lack basic infrastructure so even if some kid has a natural talent in a particular, it gets crushed at the school level itself. Infrastructure not only helps in producing sportspersons of international repute but also encourages the youth population of a country to participate in sporting activities to create a culture of sports. In India, the standard of sports infrastructure is not at a satisfactory level for a number of reasons. According to the Constitution of India, the sport is a state subject. The state governments in India allocate funds for developing sports and sports infrastructure as per their priority list. There is no unique approach in developing sports infrastructure throughout the country. t is a pity that a majority of children going to school in India do not get the opportunity to take part in sports due to the lack of infrastructure or even open spaces.
BUILD SPORTING CULTURE
It's a great sign that in India we are observing keen interest in sports among the citizens. Over the years, in India, we have seen immense growth of sports fan following. In recent past we have seen that the Indian audience has gone beyond celebrating cricket, we are now celebrating games like Football, Badminton, Kabaddi, F1 Race and even Tennis matches, much more than before. The growing culture of the club has increased and ignited the sportsmanship among everyone. What adds the glamour edge to various sports is the involvement of the celebrities. We have seen the involvement of the Bollywood stars and politicians in the IPL and Kabaddi League. Owing to their involvement, we have seen the growing fan following in every sport. Lately, the Indian government has been making efforts to transform sports into mainstream career option and not as a co-career option.
The process of leagues that started with IPL in 2008 has now gathered momentum and almost every sport with a following in India has a league of its own. The hockey league for example has contributed significantly to improving the standard of Indian hockey in the last couple of years. That the Indian team has already made it to Rio and that they are able to compete with leading European teams in recent times is a contribution of the hockey league. With the very best in the world playing in it, the league has given Indian players the necessary confidence and exposure to go a notch higher in performance and buoyancy.
There is an overwhelming amount of scientific evidence on the positive effects of sport and physical activity as part of a healthy lifestyle. The positive, direct effects of engaging in regular physical activity are particularly apparent in the prevention of several chronic diseases. Sport and physical activity can make a substantial contribution to the well-being of people in developing countries. Exercise, physical activity and sport have long been used in the treatment and rehabilitation of communicable and non-communicable diseases. Physical activity for individuals is a strong means for the prevention of diseases and for nations is a cost-effective method to improve public health across populations. It improves diet and discourages the use of tobacco, alcohol and drugs. It helps to reduce violence, enhance functional capacity, and promote social interaction and integration.
Sport generates benefits in two ways, through direct participation in the sport itself, and through the use of participatory and spectator sport as a platform for communication, education and social mobilization.
No doubt, India’s progress in joining the elite sport's powers in the world has been excruciatingly slow. But, with schemes like Khelo India, the government is trying to uplift the condition of sports in our Republic as well. In India, the Union Budget for 2018-19 provided 2196.35 crores for sports, out of which 520.09 crores went to Khelo India, the government’s flagship program to unearth talent. The Sports Authority of India’s budget was cut by 66 crores, thereby curtailing its freedom to be liberal with proposals from national sports federations. There is a need to concentrate on creating new infrastructure facilities and providing adequate foreign exposure to our front-line sportspersons. If we are able to fulfill these challenges then surely within the next decade or so, India plans to become the new super-power of the sport.