New Delhi: Conference of Ministers and Secretaries of the States and Union Territories in charge of Youth Affairs and Sports was held in New Delhi today. In his inaugural address, the Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports(I/C) Kiren Rijiju called for collective efforts of the centre and the states in making India a fit nation and encouraging the sporting culture in the country. He said that India is a young nation, and we have to channelise the energy of youth for the national development.
Calling upon the states to sync their activities with the centre’s programmes, Rijiju said that the centre and the states should work as a team. “The Youth Affairs and Sports departments have a large human capital at their disposal, which more than makes up for the dearth of the financial resources. We should recognize our strength. There are over 80 lakh volunteers working in various programmes of the Centre. On October 2 this year, over 24 lakh volunteers participated in the plogging program, making it one of the largest human participation in the world in a single programme.”
Talking about the Fit India Movement which was launched by PM Modi in August, Rijiju said that the movement aims to make fitness an integral part of the daily life of Indians, by encouraging them to participate in fitness events/activities. He said that the movement would involve all Indians, covering all aspects having a bearing on fitness and healthy living, like physical fitness, mental fitness, healthy lifestyle, healthy eating habits, balanced diet, preventive health care and environment-friendly living. It should become a citizen movement and a way of life. The Prime Minister has already directed all central ministries to make Fit India a part of their programmes. He added that the Government will try to identify the State/UT which is the most fit on the basis of certain parameters, and subsequently fittest town, city and school will also be identified and awarded.
On the Khelo India program, Rijiju said that the initiative has started yielding results. In the last 6 months, Indian sportspersons have shown better results, indicating that India is emerging as a sporting powerhouse. He said that the country should aim to be among the top ten performers in the 2028 Olympics games. He called upon the states to give sports priority in their scheme of things, and create sports culture. He said that winning is not the ultimate thing, participation is, and that there is a need to bring about change in thinking of people about sports.
On the issue of Sports and fitness equipment being in the highest tax bracket in the GST, he called upon the states to take it up with their respective finance ministers who can then make recommendations to the GST council to lower the tax burden.
Rijiju said that the Department of Sports has taken the decision to allow free access to all the athletes who want to avail the benefits of Sports Authority of India’s (SAI) infrastructure where coaches and the training facilities of the Government are being provided free of cost. He called upon the States and UTs to follow similar practices so that infrastructure is put to optimum utilization.
The minister also said that Nehru Yuva Kendra Sangathan (NYKS) has tied up with the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) to help in disasters. Several batches of NYKS volunteers are undergoing training for relief and rescue operations. He added that the states should make use of these volunteers in case of disasters, as the NYKS volunteers can act as the first port of call.
On the issue of incorporation of sports and fitness in the educational curriculum, the Minister said that Department of Sports has recommended to the Ministry of HRD to include fitness and basic sports as essential subjects in educational institutions.
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