Not sounding pessimistic but achievements in the sports arena in the 60th year of Independence paints a rather dismal picture and there is need to pull up our socks to boost performance as we aspire to becoming a super power.
It has been seen that any country which performs well in sports does equally well in other areas for a sports boosts the morale of the people as has been seen in the case of countries like USA, Australia, China, Germany and Japan.
All these countries are also economically strong for a sporting nation helps imbibe in the people a fighting spirit and that is what is needed for India if it has to push itself up into the forefront of nations.
A sporting nation helps in inculcating a discipline among the people for to be successful in any area, discipline is the most essential perquisite and this it seems the country appears to be lacking.
Though the comparison may seem odious but a look at the functioning of the Delhi Metro shows what discipline can do. It is one of the cleanest spots in the capital and personnel ensure there is no litter either at the stations or the trains. This overseeing by Metro staff has over a period of time brought discipline Metro travelers and keeping it clean has become second nature.
It is this kind of discipline in all walks of life that would enable India to emerge as not
only a economically powerful nation but also to a large extent contribute towards boosting our performance in the sports arena.
Except for a passing cloud of sporting achievements such Asian Games football gold in 1962, World Cup hockey in 1975, World Cup cricket in 1983 and Nehru Cup Football in 2007 or the Olympic hockey which we kept winning till a break in 1960 followed by two golds in 1964 and 1980, India has been struggling to even qualify for Olympics.
A look at India'sperformance in the Olympics paints a rather dismal picture for in 21 olympic games in which this country has participated for over 100 years since the 1900 Games, we have won only 17 medals of which eight gold medals have been in hockey.
The only positive achievement, if we can consider it so, is that we have won at least one medal in all the 21 Olympic Games that we have been to.
As the countdown for the 2010 Commonwealth Games is on, what do we witness but an ugly verbal duel between the concerned minister and the sports official with each only trying to score brownie points.
It is high time such nit picking is ended and stress is laid on getting our athletes prepared for the games by providing them with all the facilities and for this concentrating on getting the infrastructure ready.
Or is it that we want a repeat of the 1982 Asian Games hockey final held at the National Stadium when Pakistan virtually rubbed our noses before our home crowd 7-1.
It is indeed sad that as the Commonwealth Games comes closer, there is more furore whether the venue selected for the village is right or not and whether the cost for hosting the games is worth it or not.
Why are we getting caught in such nitty gritty of the event. By the time the Games is staged, it would be a new government in place and what sort of government will be there only time will tell.
However, one hopes that whichever party or coalition is in place, they would ensure that at least now that we have taken on the responsibility of staging the games, it gets ahead on schedule.
As regards sports policy, it is high time a proper framework was drafted but let it be done after wide consultations with all the sports bodies, sportspersons, the media and others connected with sports. There is definitely a need for a proper sports policy and not just some lopsided selection and than followed by condemnation of our performance or getting elated over a solitary medal.
Look at China. Back in the 1950s, Chinese athletes were no match to us even at the Asian Games. Today China is a superpower in the field of sports. They have academies for various disciplines where sportspersons are picked young. Each academy is entrusted to an expert on whom lies the onus to produce results. Failures are viewed seriously and those responsible for it are penalised. The Chinese have shown to the world that with dedication and planning, results can be achieved.
South Korea and Japan are other examples of Asian nations who have excelled in sports and South Korea had the distinction of reaching the World Cup football semifinals when the two countries jointly staged the event in 2002. They have also held both Olympic and Asian Games considering both nations were ravaged by war and conflict.