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Apart from the rich culture and diverse arts presence, India has tremendous experience and has thrived in different sporting activities. The history of sports in India dates back to the Vedic era. Physical culture in ancient India was fuelled by religious rights. The mantra in the Atharvaveda, says, "Duty is in my right hand and the fruits of victory in my left." In terms of an ideal, these words hold the same sentiments as the traditional Olympic Oath: "For the Honour of my Country and the Glory of Sport." Games like chess, badminton, playing cards, and polo originated in India and it was from here that these games were transmitted to foreign countries, where they were further modernised.
In India, sport is taken as part of the Indian entertainment, culture, traditions and even spirituality. The most popular sport that has taken India to greater heights is cricket. Cricket is a religion and the Indian society is associated with the sport wherever they are across the world. The sport is played at all levels and ages starting from the grassroots up to a national level. The game has given rise to popular personalities in all aspects of the game. Unlike in other sports such as football, the sport has given rise to the popularity of coaches and even commentators.
A second most popular sport in India is Chess. India boasts of the invention in the game. Its innovation has popularized the game to a world class competition. A legend known as Vishwanathan Anand took the sport through the period known as obscurity and transformed it to an interesting and a world hit. Indian chess is managed by The All India Chess Federation (AICF) which is the central administrative body. This body was founded in 1951 and is headquartered in Bombay. Currently, the state of this game in the country is excellently good. In fact there are many gifted players in the country with some rating top ten in world chess competitions. Another popular sport in India is football which is rated second to cricket. This game is played around the country and as even as a favourable sport in some states like Goa and west Bengal. Kolkata is regarded as the home of the Indian football. Beside cricket, hockey is taken in India as another national sport. Though the country was under political suppression for many years, the spirit of the sport did not die with the intimidations. The Indian Hockey team proved to the world that it is a force to reckon with. Another popular sport in India is Tennis, though this game was "exported" to India by the Englishmen, the Indian tennis team boasts of some world class admired players. The ideal tennis players in India have razor sharp playing concentration, stamina and superior agility in fighting spirit and high devoted sporting personality. The last sport to mention here is the Indian athletics. Athletics in India dates back to the pre-colonial era where the Indian people engaged in various track and fields athletic events. Due to civilization, globalization and local development, India has seen many local athletic participants scoop global awards as witnessed in the recent London Olympics where Indian boxers emerged top. This performance in addition has raised the expectations in other sports like marathon and high jump events in the upcoming 2016 Olympic events.
However, in India sports still is ignored and that shows in the medal tally in recently concluded Asian Games. Except cricket other sports do not receive that much attention and sponsorship. The sorry state of Indian sports in Asian Games is because of commercialisation of cricket and management of sports bodies by bureaucrats instead of sportspersons who have better knowledge of the game then the ministers and bureaucrats. This has somehow changed in recent times as there are various private sponsored tournaments based on the model of Indian Premier League are introduced like the Pro Kabbadi League, Indian Super League, Indian Badminton League etc. This is certain to provide the necessary boost to the sports in India and soon we may see many gold medals in Asian Games as well as in Olympic games.
Blossom B. Sahoo