The valleys of Gulmarg may still have chilly air, but every Indian can feel and see your warmth and energy. The second edition of the Khelo India-Winter Games is starting from today. Besides India's effective presence in International Winter Games, it is a major step towards making Jammu-Kashmir a major hub of the winter games. I convey my best wishes to Jammu and Kashmir and all the sportspersons from all over the country.
All the players from different parts of the country are also strengthening the spirit of Ek Bharat, Shrestha Bharat. I am told that the number of states and union territories participating in the Winter Games has more than doubled this time. It showcases the growing trend and enthusiasm towards the Winter Games across the country. Last time, the Jammu-Kashmir team performed marvelously. I am sure that this time there will be a better challenge to the talented team of Jammu-Kashmir from the rest of the teams, and the players from all over the country will see and learn from the skills and potential of their counterparts from Jammu-Kashmir. I am also confident that the experience of the Khelo India Winter Games will be of immense help in enhancing India’s pride in the Winter Olympics.
The games in Gulmarg prove Jammu-Kashmir is raring to touch the new heights of peace and development. These Winter Games will help develop a new sporting ecosystem in Jammu-Kashmir. The two Khelo India Centers of Excellence in Jammu and Srinagar and Khelo India Centres in 20 districts offer huge facilities to young sportspersons. Such centres are being opened in every district across the country. Moreover, the event is also going to give new energy and enthusiasm to the tourism of Jammu and Kashmir. And we can also notice that the difficulties that were caused by the corona are also gradually reducing.
Sports is not just a hobby or time pass. We learn team spirit from sports, find a new way in defeat, learn to repeat victory, and become committed. Sports forges the life of every single person and his lifestyle. Sports enhances confidence, which is equally important for self-reliance.
It is not that a country in the world becomes great because of only economic and strategic might. There are many other aspects. A scientist brightens his country's name all over the world with his small innovation. There are many such areas. But, sports has developed in a very organized and structured way today that also introduces the country’s image and power in today’s world. Many smaller countries in the world make their identity in the world because of sports and inspire and energise the entire country through that sport. And, therefore, sports just cannot be called a competition of win or loss. It is not that sports is limited to only medals and performances. Sports is a global phenomenon. We understand this in India in the realm of cricket, but it applies to all international sports. With this vision, the sports eco-system reforms are being carried out in the country over the years.
We are moving ahead with a holistic approach from the Khelo India campaign to the Olympic podium scheme. The government is also hand holding sports professionals to identify the talent from the grassroots level and bring it to the largest platform. Transparency is the priority of the government from identifying talent to team selection. It is also being ensured to enhance the dignity of players who have glorified the country throughout their life and the new players can avail the advantage of their experience.
Sports has also been given a lot of importance in the new national education policy. Earlier sports was considered to be just extra-curricular activity, now sports will be a part of the curriculum. The grading of sports will also count in children's education. This is a very big reform for sports and our students. Friends, Sports Institutes of Higher Education and Sports Universities are being opened in the country today. Now is the time to think about how to take sports sciences and sports management down to school level. It will give a better career opportunity to our youth and will also increase India's share in the sports economy.
My young friends,
While exhibiting your talent in Khelo India-Winter Games, you also have to remember that you are not just part of a game, but you are also a brand ambassador of Atmanirbhar Bharat. The wonders that you do in the field gives India recognition in the world. So whenever you step into the field, always keep the Bharatbhoomi in your mind and soul. It will not only sparkle your game, but your personality as well. Whenever you are in the playground, you are not alone, 130 crore countrymen are with you.
Once again, you enjoy and perform this festival of games in this pleasant atmosphere. My best wishes to all of you once again. I congratulate hon’ble Manoj Sinha ji, Kiren Rijiju ji, all other organizers and the people of Jammu-Kashmir for this splendid arrangement.