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India is the second most populous nation in the world with a below average performance in the Olympics considering the medals won per head. A nation like India has several drawbacks in its sporting programs and one such root cause is it’s socioeconomic status. Sports has lately been considered as a tool for the development of the economy, society and education. 1 According to Prof Ronojoy Sen, of the University of Singapore, India’s cultural and caste traditions play a major role in the decision of the youth participating in sports.
Sports has not been the first choice of career in India because of high risk, uncertainty, low rewards, and economic status to start playing an expensive sport. 2 Shilbury recognised the increasingly complex environment of sport governing organisations and their need to create competitive advantage through new forms of organisation and management procedures. Sport programs at grassroots level structured in good mechanism provide youth with competencies that prepare them for good behavioural approach and have been a platform with no discrimination, no racism, and inequality.
There is a major shortfall in investment in the Sports Sector. The fact that The Government of India and the State Governments together spend only around 2p per capita per day on Sports, serves to highlight the low level of spending. Worldwide, the sports sector has a mix of private and public investments. In India, it is largely the State with a very small, but rising investment from the Private Sector. Sports is not a significant economic activity in this country.
There are multiple organisations in India that are currently involved in the development of sports program in order to contribute to the overall socioeconomic condition of the nation. Indians construe sports as a pass-time, a means of leisure, and a key to fitness, but seldom as a career. Lower and middle class communities in India clearly do not choose professional sport, or any other career options such as sport journalism, sports coaching, sports photography, and sports administration. The concept of “sports is for the rich only” has been widely believed and has taken over the interest in sports careers for the younger generation. Despite its huge population, India is mostly at the bottom of the Olympics medal tally because of the lack of facilities provided, lack for interest in the younger generation to pursue sports professionally, belief that sports becomes an added expense along with the academical tuition fee. India still lacks good coaches, proper infrastructure and other helpful schemes which the government can provide, hence the failure to acquire medals. When achievements are not witnessed at the top of the sport model, the bottom of the model fades population as they believe that there is no scope to pursue the same.
Indeed there has been remarkable progress over the years and now the Indian government has stepped forward to bring about some remarkable changes for the support of the below poverty line communities and build basic sport infrastructure in areas that need economical growth. Studies have been identifying and disclosing about the growth of sports, and the beneficiaries. Athletes who started from low economic status areas and now made a mark in the international levels are setting milestones and becoming the latest role models on how sports can help their economical status and how it uplifts the barrier of discrimination between the various classes in the society.
A sporting nation has always held good socioeconomic status, it is the one that has sustainable systems, societal interest in sport, which links sport and entertainment, which has large numbers across disciplines, both amateur and professional. The current situation in India is in the developmental stage, there are several Indian athletes who are in the forefront of various disciplines, but a critical factor on the assessment of the health of a sport is to measure how many players take it as a career and motivate the next generation to pursue sports. The bench strength is weak but developing, the challenges have been multiple, while sportsmen in India now believe that they do get the opportunities to grow in the field of sports, to compete alongside the best in the world, the management systems of sport are archaic. 4 The certifying authority in India for nurturing coaches and trainers, the National Institute of Sports, Patiala, has an outdated curriculum. It is probably 30 years behind the times. The national federations still struggle to take their various disciplines to the masses. They have monumentally failed in creating an overall interest in the sport because they do not plan, let alone think, long term outside the proverbial box for the growth of the sport. Only a small percentage of the Indian public has any interest in sport in general. Barring cricket, a majority has no knowledge of Olympic sports. Schools have still not made sports a priority in their curriculum. Only some athletes who are among the highest earners in the world.
Over the last 10 years India has many athletes who have not only been in the world rankings but who have also inspired a generation of athletes to look at dominating in varied sports and other related organisations. More importantly, there has been a major cultural change in our basic belief system. Organisations such as EduSports, Tenvic, Leapstart, Atsiy, Jr NBA, Dribble Academy, Billai Steel Plants have reached out to remote areas of the nation, set up centres to involve children to participate in sport and spread awareness about the opportunities available in the entire industry of sports to make a living. Funds from the government have been effectively utilised on projects such as Khelo India, Pro Sport Development, Sports Authority of India, and hosting multiple International events in various sports in order to engage more youth into participation. The constant efforts of Government bodies along with multiple private sports companies has led to the improvement in the participation rate in turn lifting barriers of socio classism in communities.
Through the latest implementation of sports programs, a cultural change has been identified, entrepreneurs and startup organisations are framing visions, to empower youth, especially those from underprivileged, marginalised and rural backgrounds, by providing them access to sport and physical education programs, to allow them to become confident and competent individuals, thus augmenting their holistic development and supporting the growth of community. 3 Increasingly it is recognised that what happens in childhood has a significant impact on health in adulthood. As we and others have shown -social, emotional, cognitive and physical development in childhood and adolescence tracks through to later life. The right learnings that are basic but adds value to lives at a later stage such as respect, equality, discrimination, racism, anti-social activities can be accumulated by participating in sports. If sports in encountered at the right age, then a good social environment shall be shaping up fro the nation and if it is believed that through sports a career can be led then the economical aspect of the nation also starts to rise.
On the social development side, the status of the Indian community is being contributed by organisations that are purely concentrating on the development of sports. Sport as a whole, has a much larger impact on children and youth than just their sporting development. The true power of sport is to transform the lives of young people. Providing the youth with well-structured and professionally-conducted programs fosters their growth as confident and competent learners.5 Pro Sport Development (PSD) is a social enterprise set-up in 2013 by Suheil Tandon to work towards the vision of developing sport and empowering youth at the grassroots in India, delivering sports programs to tribal youth in remote rural locations, it engages with children and youth, towards using sport as a tool for their holistic development rather than just their sporting development, it has been supporting the development of youth and sport in India at the grassroots since 2013, working across 12 states in India, including Delhi, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh West Bengal, Bihar and Rajasthan. 6 EduSports, India’s largest sports education organization, currently present in more than 800 schools across India, and has helped over 500,000 children improve their learning levels, it is designed around the philosophy that structured physical activity & sports can be leveraged as a powerful teaching tool for experiential learning in a way which is visceral and engaging, which will create a generation of healthier & fitter children equipped with key life-skills all through the magic of sports. 8 Individual Sport academies such as Dribble Academy stands for excellence in Basketball coaching, life skills, personality development, and alternate teaching methods. One of a kind, the program uses Basketball as a medium to develop, extend and stretch the minds of 400+ underprivileged kids and gives them a platform to learn and exhibit competence.
On the economical side, the status of the Indian community for implementing sports for organizational leadership and entrepreneurship has been widely developing. Currently, there are several examples of athletes who have used their persona of fame to go a step further with their so-called personal brands such as Sachin Tendulkar’s SACH, Cristiano Ronaldo’s CR7 and many more, in other ways sport businesses are run by renowned athletes in order to uplift their respective sport and one such organisation in India is 7 TENVIC run by Anil Kumble, legendary cricketer, where they believe that Sport promotes the well-being of people and ecosystems across personal and professional spheres, that it fosters lasting Cultural, Social and Economic benefits for individuals, societies, nations and the globe, their services and solutions are aimed at positively impacting the lives of people and offering them a career in the sport industry. In an assessment conducted by the Ramaiah Institute of Applied Sciences, Bengaluru, India, 68% of the surveyed employees who wished to pursue a career in sports chose to work in other career fields only due to the lack of Job security. Using sports as a tool for the betterment of the economical conditions, ATSIY, a sports consultancy firm based out of Bangalore, Karnataka is now booming in the market for its services in the local community on identifying individuals from poverty struck areas in order to educate and train them to make a career in various areas of the sports field.
Drawing from the sport for development and positive youth development literatures, sport needs to be accessible with the right coaching and facilities. India is a nation that ranks second in terms of its population and has extreme graphs of athletes who perform at professional levels. India’s socioeconomic status is currently being developed with the support of organisations involving sports programs as a tool. The study shows that sports programs are the right tools to be implemented in various parts of the nation where the economic status is considerably low for the betterment of the socioeconomic status of the nation. Data was collected from various sources including interviews with founders of sport organisations in India, articles and journals published by the Govt of India have clearly shown that Sports program are helpful not just at the grassroots levels for the holistic development of the youth but also in the areas of employment in order to promote their individual economical statuses of communities in remote areas.
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