For Prime Minister Narendra Modi, every sporting victory is an opportunity to reiterate his support for Indian sport and inspire youngsters to take up sports as a way of life.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s radio address, ‘Mann Ki Baat’, recently aired its 50th episode. With time, it has come to define national priorities. shows the depth of similarities shared by every Indian, despite being divided by geographies or language. In his soft-spoken themes, sports has been a constant.
Despite a universal appeal, sports in India received a stepmotherly treatment from both the government and the people. With parents prioritising studies over sports and institutional support not forthcoming, it became a difficult career choice. However, in the past few years, there has been a burgeoning of a sporting culture in the country. The enthusiasm for sports other than cricket is visible, with more and more athletes emerging from various fields becoming marketable faces because of their growing popularity.
During ‘Mann Ki Baat’, the Prime Minister has been mentioning the laurels won by Indian athletes in global tournaments. For instance, when the Indian blind cricket team won the T20 World Cup, the Prime Minister in his ‘Mann Ki Baat’ address, made it a point to mention their remarkable feat and what it meant for the nation.
In another instance, India had bagged more than 60 medals at the Commonwealth Games 2018 with some unforgettable performances in the shooting, wrestling, table tennis and badminton. The Prime Minister said: “India’s performance in the Commonwealth Games was par excellence… Are you aware that out of the wrestlers who represented India, each one of them returned with a medal? …Fifteen-year-old Indian shooter Anish Bhanwala became the youngest sportsperson to win a gold for India…”
It is not just the sportsperson but also various sports which have received a boost in the country because Modi decided to shine a light on them. In India, football never took off due to lack of resources and support. In 2017, the FIFA Under-17 World Cup was organised in the country. A year before the tournament, Modi urged the nation on ‘Mann Ki Baat’ to gear up for the world event by building a welcoming atmosphere of football. All through the year, he kept on reminding people of the impending event and asking people to share their suggestions on how to organise the tournament well.
A sustained effort could be seen on the part of the Prime Minister to inculcate a sporting culture among people at large. The PM’s ‘Mann Ki Baat’ has proven to be an effective medium to ensure that his vision for sports in India emerges from ground up and is sustained through people’s participation, like his other appeals from the same platform.