The summer Olympics of 2012 was proclaimed as India’s most successful one of all times and people ranging from the ministry to the media announced the great coming of Indian sports. But is it really so? The recently concluded Common Wealth Games does not give much credence to this belief.
Why is it that a country of almost a billion people struggles to find a place on the podium consistently? Many people blame poverty and the lack of resources as the main cause for India’s poor performance in sports. In my view, this argument is like the ostrich burying its head in the sand and refusing to face the real facts. India’s huge middle class is much more well-off than many of the citizens of smaller and poorer countries, which are able to pick up so many medals nevertheless. Let’s face it. India lacks a culture in sports. But was this always the case? Not so. We have various instances of mention of sports like hunting, wrestling, archery, hammer throwing, weight lifting, yoga, chariot racing and sword fighting in our ancient epics and texts like the Mahabharata and Ramayana. This goes on to prove that ancient India gave equal importance to physical well-being as it did to mental growth. The ancient art of kalaripayattu developed in India is considered as the genesis of the modern form of marital art. But somewhere along the road, we seem to have lost our way.
We have come to such a state that our only aim is to finish on top of the rat race but we fail to realize that there are no real winners in such a race. How often do we see parents encouraging their children to go out and play? Sadly, hardly ever. They themselves are caught up so much in their mundane existence that they are unable to take a broader view of life. We hear a lot about life-style related diseases catching on these days. The millions earned are only used for the medical bills and pills at the end of the day.We forget the old idiom ‘Health is wealth’
It is absolutely necessary that we rebuild consciously a society that values wholesome development of an individual. How can we do this? It is not going to be easy – it will require a revolution of all sorts. The greatest impetus for this would be a change in our attitude towards sports which would lead to a domino effect. Policies, infrastructure and professionalism- all will follow. I believe when such changes come to the society as a whole, it will automatically lead to more glories in competitions. Of course, Rome was not built in a day, but I still hope to see, sooner than later, a change in the approach towards sports and look forward to seeing the tricolor hoisted frequently at various international sports events and more and more Indians returning with sporting laurels.