India launches the first of its kind Khelo India School Games with the ‘Guru-Shishya’ theme

By Vrinda Saxena

Indian Prime Minister (PM) Mr Narendra Modi, on 31 January 2018, launched the first PM Khelo India School Games (KISG) Programme in the national capital. The grand ceremony, which took place at the Indira Gandhi stadium, with the ‘Guru-Shishya’ (mentor-disciple) theme, saw the PM address the gathering, declaring that the programme is a mission, with the aim of highlighting India’s young talent and showcasing its sports potential.

An initiative for Indian players

As part of the initiative, the government will be selecting 1000 young sportspersons from different sports and providing them an amount of Rs. 5 Lakh per annum, for eight years. In addition, he announced that the government has decided to reward the childhood coaches of sports personnel who excel at the world stage and bring recognition to the country.

The KISG will span across 16 disciplines in the Under-17 age category and close to 3700 students, coming from 29 Indian states and Union Territories will be participating in the event at various venues in the city, to be held from 31 January to 8 February 2018.

Medals and skills recognition up for grabs

In this first KISG, a total of 199 gold, 199 silver, and 275 bronze medals are up for grabs for the youthful winners.

With regards to this Mr Modi said, “Coaches should be recognised, especially childhood coaches who have unearthed them and helped them grow in their area.”

Union sports minister, Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, at the ceremony said that this programme shall be an annual affair and will be broadcast live as well.

Speaking about the importance of sports and this programme specifically, the PM said, “When we say India has to grow on the world stage, it does not only mean having a strong army and powerful economy. It includes people of India distinguishing themselves as scientists, artists, sportspersons. Khelo India is not only about winning medals. It is an effort to give strength to a mass movement for playing more. We want to focus on every aspect that would make sports more popular across the nation.”

Encouraging India’s youth to prioritise sports

Encouraging the youth, he suggested that they should also prioritise sports, and said that his government is offering support to interested kids at the grass-root level itself.

Anu Kumar of Uttarakhand bagged the first gold medal on offer of the KISG and Tamil Nadu took to itself two of the six medals. The rest were shared among athletes of Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Kerela and Haryana.

On this note, a glimpse at the history of sports in India indicates that indeed we as a nation have come a long way since Independence. The massive support pouring in for sports like badminton, hockey, tennis, wrestling, kabaddi, archery and the rest, apart from the national favourite –cricket, is quite a measure in itself.  Added to that, India’s presence on the global stage, and favourable women to men ratio among the current crop of sportspersons are signs of a commendable journey of what was and what lies ahead.

Sports marketing and media value for revival

Among the many factors that this revival of sports culture can be attributed to, the major chunk, of course, lies with the money involved. Now, more than ever, sports marketing is a thing, with big numbers and celebrity endorsements. Further, the emphasis on fitness in popular culture adds to the media value. Sports figures, from a plethora of games, have a visibly wider acceptance and fan-base, so it is no surprise if the game catches on because of him/her or vice-versa.

In all, the idea of sports as a profession, not merely a passion, seems to have caught the fancy of a lot of millennial parents. They are now open to letting their children excel in all fields- sports included, and don’t mind it being taken up for a living. Though the mindset has not totally evolved, it is still enough for a recognizable revival of the sports and associated culture.

Featured Image Credits: Sid da’ Cool on Visualhunt / CC BY-NC-SA