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Character, Community and Country: The Essence of Sports

 

Dear Friends,

Greetings to my fellow countrymen on National Sports Day! On this day we remember the legendary sportsman Major Dhyan Chand, who mesmerized the world with the magic of his hockey stick and made India a force to reckon with in hockey. I also congratulate all the sportspersons and coaches who would be honoured with the various sports awards this year!

I am sure every one of us has a lot of memories attached with sports. We still remember the first time we held a cricket bat. As youngsters, how we wished that the frequency of the games period were exchanged with long classes on grammar, algebra or history! Did you not rejoice when India won a world cup or a medal?

In my view, the three Cs that wonderfully blend with sports are- Character, Community and Country.

All round character building is incomplete if sports are not a part of our lives. With reference to sports I feel, “जो खेले वो खिले!” (The person who plays, shines). Without sports, there cannot be any sportsmanship! Every sport has something or the other to offer. It is a unique opportunity both to sharpen our skills and for our personality development. No wonder Swami Vivekananda once said, “You will be nearer to heaven through football than through the study of the Gita.”

We all live in a community and there are only few better ways to strengthen community bonding than sports. It is a great leveler and a unifier- when we play in a team we are not concerned with the caste, creed or community of our teammates. Neither does their economic status bother us. What matters is the victory of our team. I have seen so many lifelong friendships that have originated from the games field.

We are blessed to see such kind of a wonderful atmosphere of oneness and social harmony during our Khel Mahakumbh.  Cutting across all age groups and districts of Gujarat, the athletes compete in various sporting events. Khel Mahakumbh 2012-2013 witnessed a record participation of lakhs of athletes. For this year’s Khel Mahakumbh we are starting a new Under-12 category that will enable us to tap young talent. The Government will also bear the various expenses of the talented youngsters, which will help them pursue their sporting dream in the years to come.

A few years ago, we integrated specially abled athletes to participate in Khel Mahakumbh. The genesis of this happened when a group of young specially abled athletes who had won in a tournament in China came to meet me. I spent two hours with them, spoke to them…this touched my heart. We decided to further our resolve to provide maximum opportunity to them so that they can shine on the field and that is when we decided to integrate them in Khel Mahakumbh. Thousands of specially abled athletes left Khel Mahakumbh 2012-13 spellbound with their stellar performance.

Winning a medal or a cup is a great gift to give to our country. Invariably, success on the games field becomes linked with national pride. Sports also blends with culture when a nation hosts an important sporting tournament like the Olympics or a World Cup that enables it to showcase its history to the entire world. Not to mention the boost to the economy and tourism due to such events.

Thus, it is very important to inculcate a spirit of sports and sportsmanship especially among our youth. Apart from the Khel Mahakumbhs I talked about, Gujarat has set up a Sports University, a unique initiative to harness sporting talent from all across the country. Furthermore, every district will have a sports school to give an impetus to sports. By integrating sports with education, a lot can be achieved. As a part of 150th birth anniversary celebrations of Swami Vivekananda, Vivekananda Yuva Kendras were set up in every corner of Gujarat with an aim to promote sports. Among the other initiatives under its auspices, sports kits were distributed to the youngsters.

Yet, despite all these efforts there is a lot we have to do. I notice that due to academic pressures, the attendance on games field in decreasing. And if children are not studying, they are playing games on their computers. This is a very big shortcoming on our part. As citizens, let us create the right atmosphere and provide the right opportunity so that every child goes out to play for some time. Is it not better to hit a six or score a goal in a park nearby rather than on the computer screen? Another good idea is to devote some time where the entire family comes together and plays a game together.

I am aware that there are several sports players who are extremely talented but they miss the bus due to financial and logistical constraints. As a Government, we are trying but I also seek your help in this. What if corporates can come together set up a corpus so that budding sportspersons can get constant world class training opportunities along with other facilities, with an aim that India emerges with many medals in the future Olympics and other sporting tournaments? This can be a part of their CSR. Likewise, our NRI friends who never shy away from helping their Motherland can contribute in the same way or even by sponsoring tournaments and helping create sporting infrastructure in their villages.

Together, let us pledge to give our youngsters a happy and play-ful childhood that prepares the foundation of a glorious future devoted to the service of our nation.

 

 

 

Narendra Modi

 

Watch : Shri Narendra Modi speaks during the opening ceremony of Khel Mahakumbh 2011 in Vadodara

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October 22, 2021
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India completed vaccination of 100 crore doses on October 21 in about nine months since starting vaccination. The journey from anxiety in early 2020 to assurance has happened, and India has emerged stronger, thanks to the world's largest vaccination drive.

It has been a truly Herculean, bhagirath effort involving multiple sections of society. For any effort to attain and sustain speed and scale, trust of all stakeholders is crucial. One reason for a successful campaign was the trust that people developed in the vaccine and the process followed, despite various efforts to create mistrust and panic. There are some who only trust foreign brands. However, when it came to something as crucial as the Covid-19 vaccine, Indians unanimously trusted

'Made in India' vaccines. This is a significant paradigm shift.

All for One, and One for All

India's vaccine drive is an example of what India can achieve if the citizens and the government come together with a common goal in the spirit of people's participation, or jan bhagidari. Initially, many doubted the capabilities of 130 crore Indians. Some said India would take 3-4 years, while others doubted people coming forward to get vaccinated. There were those who said there will be gross mismanagement and chaos, while others doubted India's ability to manage supply chains.But just like the 2020 national lockdown - janta curfew - and subsequent lockdowns, the people showed how spectacular the results can be if made trusted partners.

When everyone takes ownership, nothing is impossible. There was a lot of pressure from different interest groups to give preferential treatment to them in vaccination. But GoI ensured that there is no VIP culture in the vaccination drive.

In early 2020, it was clear to us that this pandemic will have to be eventually fought with the help of vaccines. We started preparing early. We constituted expert groups and started preparing a roadmap right from April 2020. Till today, only a handful of countries have developed their own vaccines. More than 180 countries are dependent on an extremely limited pool of producers, and dozens of nations are still waiting for the supply of vaccines.

Imagine if India did not have its own vaccine. How would India have secured enough vaccines for such a large population? How many years would that have taken? It is here that credit should be given to Indian scientists and entrepreneurs for rising to the occasion. It is due to their talent and hard work that India is truly aatmanirbhar when it comes to vaccines. Our vaccine manufacturers, by scaling up to meet the demands of such a large population, have shown that they are second to none.

GoI has been an accelerator and enabler of progress. It partnered with vaccine-makers right from day one, and gave them support in the form of institutional assistance, scientific research, funding, as well as accelerated regulatory processes. All ministries came together to facilitate and remove any bottlenecks as a result of the 'whole of government' approach.

In a country of the scale of India, it is not enough to just produce. Focus has to be on last-mile delivery and seamless logistics. To understand the challenges involved, imagine the journey taken by one vial of vaccines. From a plant in Pune or Hyderabad, the vial is sent to a hub in any of the states, from where it is transported to the district hub. From there, it reaches a vaccination centre. This entails the deployment of thousands of trips taken by flights and trains. During this entire journey, the temperature has to be maintained in a particular range that is centrally monitored.

We are the Nation

For this, over 1 lakh cold-chain equipments were utilised. States were given advance notice of the delivery schedule of the vaccines so that they could plan their drives better and vaccines reached them on the pre-decided days. This has been an unprecedented effort in the history of independent India.

All these efforts were complemented by a robust tech platform in CoWIN. It ensured that the vaccine drive was equitable, scalable, trackable and transparent. This ensured that there was no scope for favouritism or jumping the queue. It also ensured that a poor worker could take first dose in his village and the second dose of the same vaccine in the city where he works, after the required time interval. In addition to a real-time dashboard to boost transparency, the QR (quick response)-coded certificates ensured verifiability. There are hardly any examples of such efforts not only in India but also the world.

In my 2015 Independence Day address, I had said that our country is moving ahead because of 'Team India', and this 'Team India' is a big team of our 130 crore people. People's participation is the biggest strength of democracy. If we run the country through the participation of 130 crore Indians, our country will be moving ahead 130 crore steps every moment. Our vaccination drive has yet again showed the power of this 'Team India'. India's success in its vaccination drive has also demonstrated to the whole world that 'democracy can deliver'.

The success achieved in the world's largest vaccination drive should further spur our youth, our innovators and all levels of government to set new benchmarks of public service delivery that will be a model not only for our country, but also for the world.