India needs a better 'sporting' attitude from now

India needs a better ‘sporting’ attitude from now
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India needs a better ‘sporting’ attitude from now

Highlights

It is certainly ‘Chak De’ moment for Indian hockey as a resolute Indian men’s hockey team rewrote history claiming an Olympic medal after 41 years, as it defeated Germany to win the bronze

It is certainly 'Chak De' moment for Indian hockey as a resolute Indian men's hockey team rewrote history claiming an Olympic medal after 41 years, as it defeated Germany to win the bronze. It's definitely time to rejoice and say 'Hum Mein Hai Hero,' as Mirabai Chanu opened the account winning a silver medal in weightlifting, P V Sindhu winning a bronze in badminton and Borgohain Lovlina grabbing a bronze in boxing.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated the medal winners and said as far as hockey was concerned, August 5 would be remembered as a historic day. That's true as majority of those who were born four decades ago do not even know that India had last won a hockey medal at Moscow Olympics held in 1980.

But then things should not stop at this. Felicitating them, presentation of bouquets, parading them on Republic Day, announcing some cash awards by respective States, plots to construct houses would serve no purpose. What is required is to take necessary measures to see that we become a top sporting nation. As of now, India sure punches well below its weight when it comes to sports.

One reason is that sports has always taken a backseat vis- a vis-education. For a long time, say till about three decades back or so, it was said that India has the talent but lacks in wherewithal. But now things have changed. We have burgeoning population of billionaires and we are known as one of the powerful nations and as a fast- developing country.

It's time the country's political executive and the Opposition parties stop accusing each other and see how to make India win more and more medals in various international games .

Unfortunately, the Opposition does not seem to be serious on forcing a thorough discussion on any issue. It has created a logjam in Parliament on Pegasus issue and keeps levelling accusations like Modi planting bugs in youth's phones. But it refuses to utilise the different methods available on the floor of Parliament to force a discussion and put the government on mat if it has evidence.

Such attitude is either out of ignorance of how to make use of the rules and regulations of Parliament or it is intentional attempt to stall the proceedings thinking that it would help them get some political mileage. 'Even those who filed a case in Supreme Court are silent,' the apex court remarked. The political parties should give up its arrogance and delusion and learn to be constructive.

The NDA government too should have shown better maturity levels and tried to resolve the issue. Unless the 'cat and rat' race in politics does not stop, country cannot progress on various fronts and more so in sports. The opposition parties should stop the high drama they have been enacting for past 15 days and give a notice for discussion on Olympics, congratulate the medal winners and discuss threadbare how India can quench its thirst for sporting glory and number of medals. They should take the country as a unit, discuss the national sports policy, suggest what short and long term measures the Union and State governments should take.

If we just indulge in lip service, thump the tables in parliament and make excuses without showing commitment to sports, we cannot hope to break into the top 10 even by 2040. Indian athletes who have achieved international success are exceptions rather than products of the country's sports system. They have been making the country proud but when will country make the sports aspirants proud? If we have to pedal to the medals, we would need to be in double digits for gold and 30 plus total medals to take a top 10 slot.

While the task ahead is uphill, it is not impossible. Substantial money has been spent by the government and NGOs, elite athletes have become stars and their financial wellbeing has been looked after.

What is required now is we need to build a system and give top priority to sports culture. Let political sports take a backseat for five years and more focus be laid on sports culture. Instead of trying to finish the opposition whether it be in States or Centre and give cash freebies killing initiative among talented people, a synergized sports culture should be developed if India is to win a string of medals.

A fundamental overhaul is needed and urgently so. If septuagenarian leaders at the helm of politics in India fail to think or talk about it, middle-aged politicians like Rahul Gandhi should take up such issues before he joins the elite club of oldies.

While parents should encourage students to excel in sports, the government should provide necessary infrastructural facilities. We have seen if one has a great coach, champions can emerge. We need good coaches who should keep themselves updated just as we keep updating the smart phones. We are badly lacking in grass root level facilities for encouraging sports.

Even in places like Delhi and Hyderabad, the stadiums are lying vacant and are used for lavish celebrations like marriages and political meetings and not for sports. We had recently seen how L B Stadium in Hyderabad had turned into a sort of agricultural field full of grass. In the last decade no sports activity took place there and it was mostly used either for Bathukamma celebrations or political meetings.

First and foremost, the union government should ensure that sports periods in schools are reintroduced. In the past every school used to have sports periods at least twice a week. Every school used to have some sports equipment and students could pick up the game of their interest and the school PT teachers used to train them. In name of modern education, we have killed sports.

Another important aspect is that many of the former medal winners in various national or international events have perished, pushed away from limelight with no recognition or accolades. No effort has been made to utilise their talent to train the aspiring sportspersons. Only few had earned crores and got lands either free or at subsidised rates for academies which again cater mostly to the elite sections who can afford the high cost.

For example, Asha Roy is the fastest runner yet most of us do not remember her. She had set a record in 2011 in National Open Athletics' Championship in Kolkata. She is now struggling to get three square meals a day. She could make to top because of her determination despite her poor economic background and no support or training.

Kamal Kumar Valmiki has won three State level gold medals in boxing. Today, he's said to be collecting garbage on the streets. He wanted a coaching job at a state level academy. But lack of funds forced him to take to the streets, literally. An international football player now sells betel nut in her village. Nisha Rani Dutta, archery champ, reports say sold her bow after house collapse.

Murlikant Petkar - India's first gold medalist in the Paralympics is forgotten. Very few are aware of his achievements in swimming, javelin throw and precision javelin throw disciplines back in Germany in 1972. He was a soldier in Indian Army and suffered permanent disabilities in Indo-Pak war in 1965.

Sports is expensive and that's why the system should support the athletes if need be by cutting down on vote-based cash transfer schemes. The sports policy should aim to become top sporting nation, not stop at mediocre performance.

Let us hope that the Prime Minister Narendra Modi while addressing the nation from the ramparts of Red Fort on the occasion of 75th Independence Day will come out clearly with a firm assurance that the Centre apart from coming up with a strong, practical and no-nonsense national sports policy will prevail upon the States to see that they focus on identifying local talent and train them to be award winners.

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