Modi says sports can contribute to economy, create jobs

Modi inaugurates synthetic track at Usha School of Athletics
Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said that sports, as a full-fledged ecosystem, could contribute immensely to the country's economy and create lots of employment opportunities and called for continuous efforts to create a mass base for sports.
Inaugurating through video-conferencing the synthetic track of the Usha School of Athletics, set up by renowned athlete P. T. Usha in Kerala, he said the sports industry sector provided opportunities in different segments such as professional leagues, sport equipment and surfaces, sports science, medicine, support personnel, apparels, nutrition, skill development and sports management among others.
"Sports is a multi-billion dollar global industry propelled by enormous consumer demand. The global sports industry is estimated at around US dollars 600 billion. In India, the entire sports sector is estimated at US dollars 2 billion only," he said.
"However, India has huge potential in sports. India is a sports loving country. The passion with which my young friends watch the ongoing Cricket Champions Trophy is the same with which they will see the EPL football or the NBA basketball fixtures and the F1 Races.
"And, as I said earlier, they are also getting drawn on to sports like Kabaddi. Our playgrounds and stadiums should be utilized to the maximum.  Holidays should also be about going out and playing a sport. Grounds of schools and colleges or the stadiums with modern facilities in the district may be utilized," he said.
Mr. Modi said the synthetic track was an important landmark in the development of Usha School and would provide modern facilities to the trainees.  
"I take this opportunity to acknowledge the contribution of our own Payyoli Express, ‘Udan Pari’ and 'Golden Girl' of India P.T. Usha ji for the development of this school. P.T. Usha has been a shining light of sports in India. She endured several challenges in life and went on to enter Olympics final, missing a medal only by a whisker. In the history of Indian athletics very few have achieved a track record like hers.
"Usha ji, the nation is proud of you. What is even better is that Usha ji has continued her association with sports. Her personal attention and focused approach have started bringing about good results and now her trainees like Miss Tintu Luka and Miss Jisna Mathew have already made their mark at the international level," he said.
"Like Usha ji, Usha School is making the best use of every opportunity by utilizing simple and limited resources," he said.
He also congratulated the Ministry of Sports and Youth Affairs, the Sports Authority of India and the CPWD for having completed this project, which suffered various hurdles resulting in delays.
Underlining that sports is closely linked with the human resource development of a society, Mr. Modi said that, in addition to keeping the body healthy, sports also transforms the personality, bringing about holistic development. It instills discipline and ethos of hard-work.
"It provides learnings for life, which enrich our thought process. The sports field is a great teacher. One of the best things one learns on the sports field is equanimity -- to face victory and defeat -- as a part of life. We learn to be humble in victory and at the same time, not to be bogged down by defeat. A defeat is not the end, in fact it is only the beginning to rise up again and achieve the desired results.
"Sports enhance teamwork. It also brings a spirit of openness and powers us with the capability to accept others. It is essential that we adopt sports as a part of the lives of the youth in our country. To me, sports includes the following attributes. I will expand the word sports to share them: S for Skill; P for Perseverance; O for Optimism; R for Resilience; T for Tenacity; S for Stamina.
"Sports creates a spirit of sportsmanship, which matters both on and off the field. That is why I often say – Jo Khele, Vo Khile- those who play, shine," he said.
Mr. Modi said that, in this inter-connected and inter-dependent world, a nation’s soft power was vital. In addition to a nation’s economic and military strength, a nation’s soft power is seen as central to its identity and sports has become an important part of soft power, he said.
"Given the global reach and fan following of various sports and sports-persons, a country can carve its own niche in the world through sports. Achievers in any sport are global sources of motivation. Youngsters draw inspiration from their success and struggles. During every major international competition, be it an Olympics or a world cup or any other such forum, the entire world takes joy in the achievements of other nations, however big or small they are.
"This is the uniting power of sports.  Sports and culture have a transformative potential in enabling stronger and deeper people to people ties.  Even at home in India, a single player catches the imagination of the whole country. His or her performance acts as uniting force - every one prays for him or her when he or she is on the field.
"The popularity of these athletes lives on beyond their times too. For years, sports, just like the pursuit of knowledge, is a part of Indian culture and tradition. Sports activities like Archery, Swordsmanship, Wrestling, Malkhamb, Boat-Racing are known to have existed for ages. In Kerala, sports such as Kuttiyumkolum, Kalari, have been popular. I am also aware of how popular mud football is.  I am sure many of you know about Sagol Kangjei, which is originally from Manipur. It is said to be older than polo and also played by a wider cross section of society," he said.
The Prime Minister said that it must be ensured that traditional games did not lose their popularity. He said indigenous games too must be promoted as they have evolved organically from people's ways of life.
"People take to these games naturally and playing them will have huge positive impact on the personality and self-esteem of growing minds. Their roots will become stronger. Today the world is taking renewed interest in Yoga. Yoga is being seen as a means to fitness and wellness, a means to lower stress. Our athletes should also consider making Yoga a regular part of their routine and training. The outstanding results will be for everyone to see.
"Being the home of Yoga, it is our added responsibility to make Yoga even more popular across the world. And, like Yoga has become popular, we must think of ways to make our traditional sports popular globally.
"In recent years, you have seen how games like Kabaddi first became a part of international competitions, and now even in the country, large scale kabaddi tournaments are being organized. Corporates are sponsoring these tournaments and I am told these tournaments are being seen widely.
"Just like kabaddi, we have to bring other local indigenous sports from various corners of the country to the national level.   In this, along with the government, other sports related bodies and the society also have a major role. Ours is a country with rich and diverse culture which has almost 100 languages and more than 1600 dialects, different eating habits, dresses and festivals. Sports plays an important role in uniting us.
"Continuous interaction, travel for competitions, matches, training etc gives us the opportunity to understand the culture and tradition of other regions of the country. This strengthens the feeling of Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat and contributes immensely to National integration.
"We have no shortage of talent.  But we need to provide right kind of opportunity and create an eco-system to nurture the talent.  We launched a programme Khelo India. Under this programme, competitions will be held in various disciplines from the school and college level to the national level.  Focus will be on identifying talent and then nurture it by providing support," he said, adding that Khelo India also supported sports infrastructure.
Mr. Modi said women had made the country proud by their achievements in all fields, more so in sports. He said people must specially encourage their daughters and provide them with opportunities to take up sports. He said that it was most gladdening to see Indian players putting up their best performance so far at the Paralympics.
He said that during earlier decades there was an environment in which sports were not pursued as a career, but this thinking had begun to change and the results would soon be evident on the playground. "A strong sporting culture can help the growth of a sporting economy," he said.
Mr. Modi appreciated the contribution made by Kerala in the field of sports and games and congratulated all players who had played for India. "I salute the determination of sportpersons who toil for excellence," he said.
He hoped the Usha School would contribute to India's preparation for major international sports events, including the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
"I also urge the sports community to decide on a set of goals in sports when our nation marks 75 years of freedom in 2022 and pledge to realise them.
"I am confident that Usha School will produce more champions in track and field events at Olympics and world events. Government of India will fully support you and will provide all possible help in achieving excellence in athletics," he added.
Death toll in London high-rise fire rises to 17
The death toll in the devastating fire that engulfed a 24-storeyed building of apartments in West London in the early hours of yesterday has risen to 17, with the recovery of five more bodies, official sources said today.
The number is expected to increase as emergency services personnel go through the building, floor by floor, to look for victims in the coming days.
As many as 79 others were admitted to different hospitals in London for treatment of a range of injuries.
According to some sources, there were about 500 residents in the building, Grenfell Tower, on Latimer Road in North Kensington in West London, which had about 130 flats, but there was no estimate about how many were actually in when the fire broke out. Most of those present in the building would have been asleep when the blaze started at around 0045 hours yesterday.
"Sadly I can confirm the number of people that have died is now 17. We do believe that that number will increase," Metropolitan Police Service Commander Stuart Cundy told journalsits.
"From my colleagues in the health service, there are still a number of people who are receiving treatment in hospital. There are 37 people receiving treatment, of which 17 are still in critical care," he said.
"Today is about those who are waiting for news about their loved ones. Our thoughts remain with those so deeply affected by the events over the last 24 hours," Mr. Cundy said.
"Yesterday was a very difficult day, clearly it was challenging overnight particularly for colleagues from fire. Today the work really starts in earnest to ensure that we do the appropriate recovery of everybody from those premises.
"Like we explained yesterday, our absolute priority is identifying and locating those people who are still missing. It would be wrong for me to get into numbers that I do not believe are accurate," he said.
"Our Casualty Bureau number is 0800 0961 233. If you have reported somebody missing and you now know they are safe and well please contact that number so we can identify those that we're still trying to find.
"My heart goes out to those families still trying to find their loved ones. Rest assured, please get in contact with us through the Casualty Bureau and our specialist trained officers will be in touch with you to support you through this," he said.
Mr. Cundy said the recovery operations were going to take a considerable period of time, and the building needed to be made structurally safe so that they could do their job and investigate the incident.
"A large team of specialist detectives will be investigating under Detective Chief Inspector Matt Bonner, alongside colleagues from the fire brigade. But I reiterate again, it is going to be a lengthy process," he said.
London Fire Brigade said they received the first calls about the fire at around 0054 hours yesterday and as many as 40 fire tenders and 200 firefighters reached the scene soon.
The firefighters battled the flames, which spread very quickly and engulfed nearly the entire building, from the second floor to the top floor, leaving many people, epsecially those on the upper floors, with not much time to escape.
Police said they were called at 01:16 hrs to reports of a large fire at a block of flats at the Lancaster West Estate, W11 and officers were rushed there. Emergency services evacuated as many residents as possible from the tower block in extremely difficult circumstances.
The entire area around the building was cordoned off by the police and around 30 adjacent flats to the tower block were evacuated as a precautionary measure. People were advised to avoid the area.
The cause of the fire is not known at this stage. The building had undergone a multi-million pound refurbishment recently.
London Fire Commissioner Dany Cotton told journalists at the scene yesterday that, in her 29 years with the London Fire Brigade, she had never seen a fire of this nature. “This is an unprecedented situation, with a major fire that has affected all floors of this 24 storey building, from the second floor up," she said.


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