The National Sports Day in India is celebrated on 29 August every year. This day marks the birthday of Dhyan Chand, the hockey player who won gold medals in Olympics for India in the years 1928,1932 and 1936. On this day, athletes from across India are bestowed with various sporting laurels.
Sports in India is an oft neglected domain, and we would like to point out that the infrastructure and facilities provided to sportspersons must be bettered for us to be world champions. One of the primary causes of conern is that it is politicians and not sportspersons, who are on governing bodies of sports committees. Only one sports association (SA)–the Athletics Federation of India–has a former national athlete as president. Only nine SAs have former or present players on their governing bodies. Since 1920, when India first started sending its contingent to the Olympics, we have won only 24 medals, a feat which is achieved by countries like China, Korea, Jamaica, and others, in one year. As per a report published by the National University of Educational Planning and Administration, only 63 per cent of primary schools and 66 per cent of upper primary schools had playgrounds. If all schools, including secondary and senior secondary schools, are taken into account, only 60 per cent had playgrounds. Lack of proper training, poor infrastructure, neglecting sports in school curricula, and a culturally ingrained apathy and ignorance towards sportspersons, is stopping us from being a superpower, in more ways than one.
Centre for Social Research, firmly believes that sports is a wonderful way to make girls step out of their homes, and contribute to the nation in a positive way. We have earlier profiled the achievements of our Indian basketball and cricket team, along with profiling the performances of Mithali Raj, PV Sindhu, Sakshi Malik, Dipa Karmakar, Girls of Gangyap and many others. Together with Australian Embassy, we have initiated a project, that will increase girls’ engagement in school sports as a way of building confidence and increasing the community and family value for girl children in alignment with the goals of the Beti Bachao Beti Bachao program. The project was launched at an event in Chandigarh recently and it seeks to engender a mindset shift in communities around the value of girl children. It seeks to improve school enrollment of girl children and to help shift the economic and social value of girl children through social and behavioral programming. The proposed sports program promotes social and leadership aspects of changing the socio-economic value of girl children.
Dr Manasi Mishra, Head of Research at CSR, and project head for this program, had this to say “Our women and girls are being recognized at the global stage, whether at the Olympics, the Commonwealth Games, and various other events. It is necessary that we encourage women, and empower them through sports.”
Wishing you all a wonderful National Sports Day! May the coming years see many more Indian women shine bright in the global arena!