Participating in the program are my cabinet colleague Anurag Thakur ji, youth affairs and sports ministers of all the states, other dignitaries, ladies and gentlemen,
I am happy that the conference of sports ministers of the country, this ‘Chintan Shivir’, is being held on the land of Manipur this year. Many sportspersons from the North East have glorified the Tricolor and won medals for the country. The North East and Manipur have contributed significantly in taking forward the sports tradition of the country. The indigenous games such as Sagol Kangjei, Thang-ta, Yubi Lakpi, Mukna and Hiyang Tannaba are very attractive in their own right. For example, there is a glimpse of Kabaddi in Oolaobi of Manipur. The Hiyang Tannaba reminds one of Kerala’s boat races. And Manipur also has a historical association with polo. Just as the North East adds new colours to the country’s cultural diversity, it also gives new dimensions to the country’s sports diversity. I hope that the sports ministers from all over the country will learn a lot from Manipur. And I am sure the warmth and hospitality of the people of Manipur will make your stay more enjoyable. I welcome and congratulate all the sports ministers and other dignitaries participating in this ‘Chintan Shivir’.
Any ‘Chintan Shivir’ begins with meditation, proceeds with contemplation and ends with implementation. In other words, it starts with reflection, then realization and then implementation and action. So, you have to discuss the future goals and also review the previous conferences in this ‘Chintan Shivir’. You will recall that when we met in Kevadia in 2022, many important issues were discussed. We had agreed to prepare a roadmap keeping in mind the future and create an ecosystem for the betterment of sports. We had talked about increasing the participation between the central government and the states in the sports sector. You must take note of how far we have progressed in Imphal in that direction. And I would also like to tell you that this review should not be done at the level of policies and programs only. Rather, you should review infrastructure development, the sports achievements of the last one year, as well.
It is true that Indian athletes and sportspersons have performed phenomenally in many international sports events in the last one year. While we celebrate these achievements, we also have to think about how we can help our players even more. In the times to come, the preparations of your ministry and departments will be tested in events such as Squash World Cup, Hockey Asian Champions Trophy, and Asian Youth & Junior Weightlifting Championships etc. The players are preparing at their level, but now our ministries will also have to work with a different approach regarding sports tournaments. Just like there is man to man marking in sports like football and hockey, similarly, all of you will have to do match to match marking. Different strategies have to be made for each tournament. You have to focus on sports infrastructure and sports training according to each tournament. You will also have to decide short term, medium term and long term goals.
Games have one more specialty. A player alone can achieve fitness by practicing continuously, but it is also necessary to play continuously for the best performance. Therefore, it is also necessary that there should be more competitions and sports tournaments at the local level. As a result, players will also get to learn a lot. As the sports ministers, you will have to ensure that no sporting talent is overlooked.
It is the responsibility of all of us to provide quality sports infrastructure to every talented player of our country. For this, the central government and the state government will have to work together. The Khelo India scheme has definitely improved the sports infrastructure at the district level. But now we have to take this initiative to the block level. The participation of all the stakeholders, including the private sector, is important. There is also an issue with regard to the National Youth Festival. To make it more effective, it requires a new way of thinking. It must be ensured that such programs, which are held in the states, should not become just a formality. When such all-round efforts are made, only then India will be able to establish itself as a leading sports country.
The ongoing initiatives regarding sports in the North East are also a big inspiration for you. Projects related to sports infrastructure worth more than 400 crore rupees are giving a new direction to the development of the North East today. The National Sports University of Imphal will provide new opportunities to the youth of the country in the near future. The Khelo India Scheme and TOPS have played an important role in this regard. At least two Khelo India Centres in every district of the North East and Khelo India State Centre of Excellence are being set up in every state. These efforts will become the foundation of a new India in the sports world and will give a new identity to the country. You have to speed up such efforts in your respective states as well. I am sure that this ‘Chintan Shivir’ will play an important role in this direction. With this belief, many thanks to all of you!
DISCLAIMER: This is the approximate translation of PM’s speech. Original speech was delivered in Hindi.