Fit India Khelo India

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By: Kamal Baruah

Can India dream of hosting the Olympics someday? Yes, the indication is definitely getting some thumbs ups – ‘we can’. But the T20 International in Guwahati was utterly a disappointing start for us. What we need is to focus on infrastructural development to facilitate global standard ambience for such a big event. Our country has resources and capacity to organise international sporting events. India has successfully hosted the Asian Games, Afro-Asian Games, Commonwealth Games, SAF, IPL, ISL and Cricket World Cups a number of times. Guwahati has proudly hosted the FIFA U-17 as well. India is a country of diversity. There are lots of things that it can show to the world. Moreover, we don’t require infrastructural development for the whole nation. Some rapid development in few developed cities will satisfy the job as it happened with Rio Olympics 2016.

Along with the infrastructure, a nation also needs to raise and nurture outstanding contingents to bring home medals. Perhaps the Khelo India Youth Games (KIYG) is an effort towards this direction – to revive, resurrect and nurture Indian sports from the grass-root level. The dream of such events has always been ideal – to establish India as a sporting super power.

If hosted successfully, and succeeds in reviving the mainstreaming sport as a tool for individual, community, economic and national development, KIYG will be a watershed moment in the history of Indian sports. KIYG was formerly Khelo India School Games, a national level multidisciplinary grassroots games held for two categories, namely under-17 for school and under-21 for college/university students. Every year 1000 promising and talented sportspersons are selected and provided an annual scholarship of Rs 5 lakh for 8 years to prepare them for the international events.

The importance of sports and fitness in one’s life is invaluable. Sport inculcates team spirit, develops strategic and analytical thinking, leadership, goal setting and risk taking. A fit and healthy individual leads to an equally healthy society and strong nation too. Sports are an extremely important component for the overall development of our nation. India in the last few years has made steady progress in the field of badminton, boxing, wrestling and athletics. Beyond cricket, this tremendous potential needs to be showcased at a global platform. It’s time we inspire young talents, give them top-notch infrastructure and training of the highest genre. We need to inculcate a strong spirit of participation in sports that enables players to demonstrate their true potential. Only then India can realise its dream of becoming a sports super power.

The third edition of annual competition KISG 2020 is being held at Guwahati, after New Delhi and Pune. KIYG athletes have been invited to participate across 20 disciplines, namely archery, athletics, badminton, basketball, boxing, cycling, football, gymnastics, hockey, judo, kabaddi, kho-kho, lawn-bowls, shooting, swimming, table-tennis, tennis, volleyball, weightlifting and wrestling at 10 venues. There are ten thousands participants from the contingents of 35 States/UTs for 451 medal events that promises 13 action-packed days scheduled from 09 Jan to 22 Jan.

We should join and support Khelo India initiative to transform India into a global sporting powerhouse in the upcoming years. Should India follow Chinese success as sporting superpower? The huge foundation during 2008 Beijing Olympics and peoples’ participation made it possible to create a massive billion dollar sports industry. India must show to the world that it can deliver on its sporting ambitions by investing in the line with the goal. India should regularly put its bid to host international event. Lifestyle diseases are on the rise, thanks to disorderly lifestyles and lack of fitness-consciousness of the people. India recently launched Fit India movement on the eve of National Sports Day to commemorate the birth anniversary of Major Dhyanchand on August 29.

Love for sports is overflowing in North East India. The heart and soul of Indian football is in the North East. Manipur, Meghalaya, Sikkim and Mizoram are becoming India’s new football powerhouse. With no big sponsors, the government has to create infrastructure at par with international standard as well as national centre for excellence with elite facilities for this hilly region. Martial Arts are very popular in North East. Karate will make its debut appearance at the Summer Olympics Tokyo in 2020. Surprisingly KIYG did not include it despite the availability of players. Maharashtra, Haryana and Delhi are three strong contenders for this KISG event. We have to raise the aspiration levels of our kids to aim for medal in Olympics. If little known Jalandhar can turn into a hub for sports goods industries, can North East earn its name as the Sports Capital of India? The potential corporate sponsors will certainly watch with the government’s promises.

However, it can’t have peanut butter without jelly. Indian sports and school curriculum must go hand in hand. Unlike USA, we don’t have any compulsory subjects like Physical Development or Physical Education (PE) in Primary/Elementary/Secondary Education. CBSE has PE in Secondary Level only. China pledges PE support to boost student fitness and gives weight when considering school/college admissions. In terms of population, India performs so poorly at the Olympics. But it would be untrue that India does not produce good sportsmen. There is Tendulkar in international Cricket and India’s hockey won 6 consecutive Olympic Gold in mid 20th century. Indian badminton had more than one success. Those successes come from affluent Indians. Bindra family led India’s celebration of first gold in shooting in Beijing Olympics 2008. But there is also a story of struggle for every medal won by Mary Kom. Assam’s Hima Das made India proud by becoming the first Indian woman athlete to win a gold at the world level. India finally realised after KIYG the most empowering initiatives of the Government that hopes to not only give a platform to youngsters to make a future in sport, but also to build India into a sporting nation. Thus the tagline says it all – Hum fit toh India fit.

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