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WHY NOT TAKE A SPORTING STAND?

The Government should take advantage of the interest created in athletics due to the film Bhaag Milka Bhaag. Children should be encouraged to play all kinds of sports

India was a land of heroes. From Maharaja Rana Pratap to Chhatrapati Shivaji to Jhansi ki Rani, these people were a source of inspiration for the people they ruled and led in a war. Unfortunately, modern-day India has no such role model. And even if the media does thrown up a leader whom one can look up to, very soon he develops feet of clay. The only heroes we are left with are Bollywood stars and cricketers.

In that context, the new Milkha Singh movie - Bhaag Milkha Bhaag - is fortuitously running to packed houses across the country is a welcome surprise. The Flying Sikh as he was popularly addressed was definitely a legend during his time. However, it was an image we gradually allowed to sink into undeserved obscurity. The revival of his contribution and its seductive presence in the present lexicon should be enough reason for parents to take their children to see this film.

At present, GenX needs encouragement is all sporting fields. Though I don't think children need to be encouraged to play cricket. The schools, parents and the media need to highlight the importance of taking up athletics as a sport as it prepares children for a variety of games. It doesn't just build competitiveness, it also helps prepare the child to face the future boldly. But in most schools and children athletic heroes like PT Usha are few and far between. So, it appears, to have been relegated into the past. As a result not many opt for athletics.

Hockey and Kabaddi are two other sports that have suffered a similar fate. While Shah Rukh Khan's Chak De India did try to bring hockey back into fore, it has been an uphill battle. As for Kabaddi - it is played in almost all the bylanes in rural India, we are still in the process of trying to put together a league. Though this game is played in every nook and corner of the country and villagers sit to watch youngsters play in dust-ridden playground, it is a game that is considered to be a good pastime. people have forgotten that this game needs an athletic body, patience, quick thinking and concentration.

Both schools and the Government have a huge role to play in popularising the spirit of athletics in a nation that is obsessed with cricket. Movies like Bhaag Milkha... should act as triggers that can be taken forward and capitalise on the enthusiasm the film has generated. It will also provide a relief from the many shenanigans that surround the BCCI and the fixing scandals that one gets to read about at regular intervals.

The Government has enacted the Right to Education Bill which will at least ensure that a child will get the opportunity to study. Meanwhile, state-of-the art sporting facilities across the country wait for athletes to take opportunity. What we need is sportsmen to head the various sports bodies in the country.

Politicians and bureaucrats are not the ones who should be heading these bodies. Should Milkha Singh become a politician or should he head a sporting body? Everybody with agree that as incharge of the athletic body, with the knowledge and experience that he has will only produce more Milkhas.

Unfortunately, the nexus between the politicians and bureaucracy has made sure that the sporting bodies are caught in red-tapism.