Former Indian captain Sachin Tendulkar, whose maiden attempt to start a discussion in Rajya Sabha was disrupted, on Friday took to Facebook to emphasise on the importance of sports and fitness in India. In the video, Tendulkar is seen emphasising how “unhealthy India is a recipe for disaster”.
“It is my endeavor to transform India from being a sport loving nation to a sport playing nation. I urge you all to participate in this effort and help make my dream, our dream. Always remember, dreams do come true,” Tendulkar said in the video.
The Master Blaster said, “There were some things yesterday that I wanted to communicate to you. I will try doing that here. I often wonder what brought me here, little did I realise that those baby steps in cricket would lead me to great lifetime memories. I always loved playing sport and cricket was my life. My father, Prof Ramesh Tendulkar, was a poet and a writer. He always supported me and encouraged me to do what I wanted in life. The greatest gift I got from him was freedom to play, the right to play and I will always be grateful for that.”
The Rajya Sabha MP also talked about other pressing issues in the country. “There are many pressing matters in our country which require our attention – economic growth, poverty, food security, health care among many others. Being a sportsman, I am going to talk on sports, health and fitness of India for it has a telling impact on our economy. My vision is a healthy and fit India,” said Tendulkar.
“India is set to emerge as the youngest average age nation in the world by 2020. So the assumption is that young is fit. But we are wrong. We are the diabetic capital of the world with over 75 million people being affected by this desease. And when it comes to obesity, we are sitting at number three in the world. The economic burden of these deseases will not allow our nation to progress.”
“According to a UN report, the impact on the Indian economy of non-communicable diseases from 2012-2030 will be 6.3 trillion US Dollars which is Rs 4,00,00,000 crore. Yes, you heard that right. But we can get this number down. If we all try to stay fit, exercise or play a sport, a lot of this can change. But for that, we need a plan to help us become a sporting nation,” added Tendulkar.
Tendulkar said that from a sport-loving nation, we need to become a sport-playing nation. “Our fitness sessions are becoming lighter while eating sessions are becoming heavier. We need to change this habit. I think that in this world of mobile phones, we become immobile. We need to transform India from a sport-loving nation to a sport-playing nation. The North-East India, which has only 4% population of India, has a vibrant sporting culture. It has produced many sporting heroes including our boxing legend Mary Kom, recently crowned champion weight-lifter Mirabai Chanu, Dipa Karmakar, Baichung Bhutia, Sangeeta Chanu and many more,” he said.
“Sports produce social harmony. President Nelson Mandela’s efforts to use the Rugby World Cup in South Africa’s journey to become an inclusive state is legendary. Sport has a unique way of building a nation. It builds characters for individuals, and characters for individuals are characters for India.”
Speaking on how sports helped him develop as a person, Tendulkar said, “From being a naughty child to chasing a dream of winning World Cup for India, I became more disciplined and more focused. I had a goal and I started planning for it. The most important aspect was execution of these plans.”
Emphasising on the need of a sporting environment in the country, the 44-year old said, “We must build a sporting culture in our country, otherwise a young, unfit, unhealthy India is a recipe for disaster.”
He also praised women athletes, saying, “Daughters of India have shown what they are capable of with champions like PV Sindhu, Saina Nehwal, Sakshi Malik, Mitali Raj and the list goes on and on. When the dreams don’t discriminate, then why do we.”
“Before the Olympics, or any major sporting event, our expectations go sky-rocketing. Along with earlier identification of talent, we must also have a dedicated squaed guiding our athletes’ preparation. And winning medals should become their target as well.”
Ending his speech, Tendulkar said, “‘Sports can create hope, where once there was only despair,’ said Nelson Mandela. Each child should get the right to play a sport at school. Parents have always asked their kids if they ate, studied well. It will be the biggest day for me when they start asking if their kids played during the day or not along with the other two things. I want to thank all of you for listening to me. Together, we need to build sporting culture in India and transfer the way we live and play. Jai Hind!”