Notwithstanding its obsession with cricket,India should not be seen as a single-sport country and the government is willing to do its best in improving other sports disciplines,External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee said on Saturday.
“We are not a single sport country. As a country of one billion people,can we not achieve greater heights in sports?” Mukherjee wondered and assured that the government would do whatever was possible.
The minister was releasing a CD of a film on cricket made by his ministry’s Public Diplomacy Division.
Referring to India’s winning of a gold medal in shooting and bronze each in boxing and wrestling in Beijing Olympics,he said,”Not many years ago,we were world leaders in hockey. Can we not recreate history?”
Mukherjee revealed that although he played football as a young boy,he was invited to be the chairman of the BCCI about 28 years ago.
“I had become Finance Minister for the first time and so I told them,why me? But they insisted. Then I took shelter of my political mentor Mrs Indira Gandhi and she drove home the point to them that I did not have the time,” Mukherjee said adding over time he had become fond of cricket.
Mukherjee said he had,however,developed a fondness for cricket in his university days and would never miss to watch a Test match played at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata.
He paid rich tributes to ‘Kapil’s Devils’ who won the Prudential World Cup in 1983. “I still remember the day. The ‘breaking news’ of the victory was given to me by Mrs Gandhi. She said it was a glorious occasion and our heads should hold high. Thanks to the players who made that possible,” he said.
The Minister said he still has with him the miniature bat,signed by the Indian team and given to him as a memento by Kapil Dev.
Lauding the contribution of cricketers from Bishen Singh Bedi,Erapally Prasanna,Gundappa Viswanth,Sunil Gavaskar right upto Sachin Tendulkar,Sourav Ganguly and Mahendra Singh Dhoni,he said,”Suddenly,cricket has become more than a game. It is a national obsession. The list (of illustrious cricketers) is long and we are proud of the illustrious sons of Mother India.”
The film,’Hum Sub Ek Hain’ whose CD Mukherjee released on Saturday,traced the history of the game,the great talents it had produced and its impact on the Indian psyche. The section that deals with how the game promoted ‘Unity in Diversity’ deserves special mention.
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