Treating sports as extracurricular activity caused huge loss to India: PM Modi
Indian prime minister Narendra Modi during the inauguration of the second phase of Saansad Khel Mahakumbh 2022-23, in Basti, Uttar Pradesh, India, via video conferencing, in New Delhi on Wednesday, January 18, 2023. (ANI Photo)
Treating sports merely as an extracurricular activity had caused a huge loss to the country, Indian prime minister Narendra Modi said Wednesday while inaugurating a sports event where he also urged athletes to include millets in their diets.
The pitch for the coarse grain comes as the world marks 2023 as the International Year of Millets.
The prime minister said that at one time sport was considered as a means of passing time and so the mentality that games are not important took root, as a result a lot of talents kept away from the playgrounds.
But this mentality is changing now, he said.
He also advised sportspersons to include yoga in their daily life to stay fit.
“Every sportsperson knows how important it is for him to remain fit, and ‘Fit India Movement’ has its role in this. For fitness, all should include yoga in their lives…it will make them healthy and also help keep the mind alert,” the prime minister said after virtually inaugurating the second phase of ‘Saansad Khel Mahakumbh 2022-23’ in Basti.
The first phase of the competition was organised from December 10 to 16, 2022 and the second phase which began on Wednesday will continue till January 28.
Underlining the importance of millets popularly called ‘mota anaj’ (coarse grain), the PM said that “nutritious diet is also important for players, and millets can play an important role in this. On India’s request, 2023 has been declared as the International Year of Millets”.
Modi, who also watched the first event of the competition ‘kho-kho’, said the talents participating here exist in all parts of the country and such an event helps find out them.
The PM regretted that at one time sports were considered as an extracurricular activity, and this caused a huge loss to the country.
“There was a time when sports used to be considered as an extracurricular activity. They were considered only a means of passing time. The children were also told the same. Due to this, generation after generation, a mindset developed in the society that sports are not so important. This mentality has caused a huge loss to the country,” he said.
“Many talents remained away from the field. But in the last eight years, the country has left behind this old thinking. Work has been done to create a better environment for sports, so now more children and youths are looking at sports as a career option,” he said.
“It’s heartening that even parents are now taking sports seriously,” the prime minister said.
He said that the direct benefit of this change in people’s thinking is visible as India is constantly creating new records in the field of sports,” he said .
“We gave the best ever performance in the Olympics. Best ever performance in the Paralympics. India’s better performance in different sports is now becoming a topic of discussion. This is just the beginning. We still have a long way to go,” he said.
“This ‘Khel Mahakumbh’ will give new opportunities to young players. I am told that about 200 MPs in India have organized similar sports events in their respective places in which thousands of youths have participated,” he said, adding that in his parliamentary constituency Varanasi also, such events have started.
The prime minister also lauded girls performing well in the sports and made a mention of the spectacular showing of Shefali Verma in women’s Under-19 T-20 hitting 26 runs in an over with five fours and one six.
Stressing that the government was encouraging sportspersons at all levels, the PM said “the government is also providing financial assistance to the players. At present, there are more than 2,500 athletes in the country who are being given more than Rs 50,000 every month under the ‘Khelo India’ campaign”.
The players performing well in Saansad Khel Mahakumbh are being selected for further training at the Sports Authority of India centre and this will benefit them a lot, he said.
“Our players should have adequate resources, training and international exposure…all these aspects are being worked upon,” he said.