Sports in India – A historical perspective
If one goes by India’s medal tally in Rio Olympics – one silver and one bronze, it draws a bleak picture for a nation that sports 18% of world’s population of which nearly 50% are youth below 25 years of age. Olympics medal, though honor boosting, is not the last word in the sports. True portrait of a sporting nation cannot be painted only with the brushes of winning or losing at big events.
India’s sporting history is dotted with numerous stars who have raised the esteem of the nation in the international arena. Dhyan Chand, for instance, was the key player to win three gold medals for Indian hockey in consecutive 1928, ’32, ’36 Olympics.Beyond Olympics
Beyond Olympics, India has age-old tradition of fitness, which is a key aspect of any sport. Yoga and combative art such as archery, shooting, fencing, wrestling, equestrian etc. have been practiced for pre-historic times enjoying a legacy dating back to 4000 years before Christ. Yoga, whose head-spring is India, and which is an effective way to discipline mind, soul and body, has gained currency world over. In the nutshell, India is a nation where zest for fitness and sports have thrived through centuries.A period of indifference towards sports
In the first half of the 20th century, the nation was preoccupied with the independence movement and, post-independence, the nation building was the main goal. Hence the kind of motivation and thrust needed to promote sports and fitness were few while sporting feats were sporadic. After a hiatus spanning a century, a new resurgence towards sports promotion and fitness can now be seen. A spurt of awareness for physical well being is manifested in massive investment in sports infrastructure. From stadia to sports academies have been developed across the length and breadth of the country.Growth of private universities
There was a time when India hardly boasted of a private university. Majority of universities were State funded. These universities along with their affiliated colleges have always enjoyed good academic faculty as well as sports facilities. Besides excelling in studies, students received good opportunities to engage themselves in extra-curricular activities and sports. However, it is noteworthy that not even 10% of India’s population ever reached university level. As the demand for more undergraduate seats grew in the last two decades, the government opened the higher education to the private sector. As a result private universities came into being in a big way. They brought in better infrastructure for both academics and sports. With the growth rate of 21% in the last decade, private universities are set to surpass the US in the next 5 years in terms of capacity building.Universities promoting sports
Although Indian universities have always promoted sports among their students, yet, till many decades after independence in 1947, the seats in higher education did not grow commensurate to the population growth. As more colleges and universities were set up with better facilities and infrastructure, the younger generation got the best of both the worlds, that is, good education and sports. With cash-rich corporate backing, the private universities modeled themselves with high aspirations to be comparable to the world-class. They cared to invest in sports facilities within campuses, partly to offer a holistic environment and partly to keep ahead in the race of one-upmanship. No wonder, in the present scenario, there has resurfaced a renewed interest for sports among a vast section of the younger generation studying in the universities. To further this healthy fervor, Universities are organizing more and more inter and intra sports competitions, and students are encouraged to play the sports of their choice.Growing Playground
Despite demographic reasons, one more reason of the advent of private universities is the affordability of the education by the Indian middle class. The private universities are welcome complement to meet the educational need of India’s growing youth population. Presently 249 private universities in addition to 353 state-run universities are the new playground for Indian youth, most offering good sports facilities along with education. 스포츠중계