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Manmohan for a sports movement

india Updated: Apr 28, 2007 15:52 IST

IANS
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Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Saturday called upon the country's sports administrators to "unleash" a new nationwide "wave of sports consciousness and development" involving the young.

He also said that sports and games should be made compulsory in schools and colleges.

"I do believe we need a new social compact involving all stakeholders to launch a nationwide movement of youth in sports," he said after opening the newly built Olympic Bhavan of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) in New Delhi.

"I would like the Indian Olympic Association to work closely with the government at the centre and in the states and unleash a new wave of sports consciousness and sports development," the prime minister said in the presence of International Olympic Council (IOA) president Jacques Rogge.

Manmohan Singh said that more involvement of youth was the need of the hour.

"I am sure that given the right opportunity, our youth will show impressive results. I suggest that we should seriously think of making sports and games a compulsory part of the educational syllabus in our schools and colleges.

"Countries that stand out in the world of sports are the ones that have in fact made them an integral part of their educational curricula.

"By doing this we will not only promote the cause of the Olympic Movement in India but also enable our youth to remain healthy and physically fit. The advancement of the Olympic Movement should be seen as advancement of the cause of healthy living," he said.

Talking specifically, Manmohan Singh said that India should pay "much greater attention" to athletics and gymnastics, apart from popular games like cricket.

"We are yet to fully harness the talent of our youth in this vast field, especially in the areas of games that figure at the Olympics. Our performances in hockey and other disciplines of sports and games have to improve substantially to enable our sportspersons win more Olympic medals," he said.

India has not done exceedingly well in athletics at the world level and figure nowhere in gymnastics.

In hockey the eight-time Olympic champion nation has gone down pathetically, with the last gold medal coming in as far back as 1980. In football, India is ranked an abysmal 165th.

Manmohan Singh hoped that the opening of the Olympic Bhavan would inspire the sports administrators and the country to strive for greater goals.

"I hope this Bhavan will be a source of inspiration, and will spur the movement's growth in India," he said, and complimented IOA president Suresh Kalmadi for his efforts.

"I am confident that this Bhavan will make a substantial contribution to the organisation of the Commonwealth Games (allotted to Delhi in 2010). We have had the experience of hosting the Asian Games in 1982 under the dynamic leadership of late prime minister of India Indira Gandhi," he said.

"What we could do in 1982 can be replicated in a much larger scale. It is unfortunate that Delhi has missed an opportunity this time, but I am sure there will be other opportunities in the future," he said, referring to Delhi losing the 2014 Asian Games bid to South Korea's Incheon city.

On Kalmadi's request to allot Rs 3 billion for athletes' training every year till 2010 Commonwealth Games, Mamohan Singh said: "He has my assurance that our government will do all that is within our power to exploit the vast untapped potential that undoubtedly lies in this area. But it would not be proper for me to comment on specific proposals having financial implications."

Kalmadi, in his inaugural speech, announced that Delhi would bid for the 2020 Olympic Games.