Reshaping Sports in Rural Areas, Participation of Women in Sports (November 2021)

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Reshaping Sports in Rural Areas

  • India՚s success at the Olympics, a commendable achievement.
  • Many ‘firsts’ were added.
  • India is known as a powerhouse in wrestling.
  • Athletes from rural India remain the heroes of the success.
  • India bagged its highest medals ever achieved.
  • The first gold in athletics in men՚s javelin was brought by Neeraj Chopra.
  • India also won a bronze in hockey after a drought of 41-years.
  • Meera Bai Chanu lifted a billion Indian hopes with a silver medal at the Olympics.
  • Ravi Dahiya, Bajrang Punia and Lovlina Borgohain won a silver and two bronze medals at the Tokyo Olympics.
  • Games and Sports have served multiple purposes:
    • Keeping people fit
    • Maintaining harmony
    • Channelizing the youth՚s energy in constructive areas
    • Keeping youths away from substance abuse
    • Pulling the youth out of poverty
  • Khelo India, TOPS Schemes, etc. are the recent initiatives by the Government of India.

Ancient to Modern

  • Epics like Ramayana and Mahabharata are full of incidences of sports such as archery, wrestling, horse-riding, chariot-racing, etc.
  • Wrestling during Mahabharata was known as Malla-yuddha with participation of legendary characters like Bhima, Balram and Jarasandha.
  • The legend of the Phogat sisters and wrestlers like Sakshi Malik have changed the outlook of patriarchs.
  • Sakshi Malik also became the first Indian female wrestler to win a medal at the Olympics.
  • Wrestling has emerged as one of India՚s strongholds in modern sports times.

Mallakhamb: The Ultra-Gymnastics

  • An ancient version of Gymnastics wherein a gymnast performs aerial yoga and gymnastic posture atop or with a standing pole.
  • Popular in rural pockets of Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra.
  • Immense stamina, practice and discipline are required.
  • The memoirs of the Chinese traveller Huen-Tsang reflect one of the earliest written descriptions of Mallakhamb dating seventh century CE.
  • Prayagraj was recognized as a site where Hindu ascetics used to climb poles as a yogic exercise.
    • One hand and one foot clinging onto it
    • Other hand and foot stretched out in the air
    • Watched the sunset with their heads turned right, indicating a solar rite
  • In the year 1958, the sport of Mallakhamb was formally institutionalized, the time it was introduced as a sport in the National Gymnastics Championship followed by the first National Mallakhamb Championship in 1962 at Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh.
  • In 2013, Madhya Pradesh declared Mallakhamb as the State sports.
  • Participants from 15 countries such as the USA, England, Germany, France, Japan, Singapore, Italy amongst others took part in the Mallakhamb World Championship 2019 held in Mumbai.
  • Mallakhamb was performed in the Olympics in the year 1936 for the first time.

Kalaripayattu or Kalari

  • The Ancient Indian Martial Art.
  • Could be traced back to the Sangam period in South India.
  • Used to prepare warriors in ancient times.
  • Requires great mind-body coordination and agility using kicks and swings.
  • Attacking and protecting with spears, shields, swords, etc.
  • It is practiced today as a competitive sport thereby attracting youth mainly from Kerala.
  • Follows a guru-shishya parampara:
    • Students (shishya)
    • Master (guru)
    • Training centers (Kalari)
  • The Kalari training continued as an oral instruction (vaytharis) till 1936 and then it was codified in written from as a book and descriptive writings followed at a scale by 1953 which popularized the sports.
  • The Kalaripayattu Academy was established by the Kerala Govt. in 2021.

Qila Raipur Sports Festival

  • India՚s Rural Olympics.
  • An annual sporting event that promotes local rural sports of Punjab through competitions in the district of Ludhiana in Punjab.
  • With an aim to bring together people and promote harmony through sports, the brainchild of Inderjeet Singh Grewal, Qila Raipur Sports Festival was first held in 1933.
  • The athletic events include shot put, kabaddi, hockey, track races.
  • Other games include tug of war, horse races, horse acrobatics, etc.
  • The budding talent gets a platform in professional games as well as creating a sporting culture in the area.
  • Unifying element that keeps people closer to their roots.
  • Intangible and often gets lesser recognition.


  • A Manipuri martial art has passed into oblivion in recent decades.
  • This sport would be reinvigorated again with the help of the Khelo India Youth Games 2021.
  • According to the Thang-Ta Federation, the competition would vastly popularize the sport.
  • Over 400 athletes from different states would participate in the competition.
  • Participation would help the athletes in getting more recognition nationally and internationally.


  • Indian ancient martial art.
  • Originates from the State of Punjab.
  • Traditional fighting style of the Nihang Sikh Warriors.
  • Used both as self-defense as well as a sport.

Initiatives to Strengthen Sports in Rural Areas

TOPS Scheme

  • The Target Olympic Podium Scheme.
  • Launched in 2014 under the aegis of Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports (MYAS) .
  • Financial assistance would be provided to the athletes along with other helps in their pursuit of medals in the Olympics and other international sporting events.
  • TOPS Development Group athletes are receiving an OPA of ₹ 25,000 and customized training support at the National Centre of Excellence (NCOE) .
  • The scheme covers pan India i.e.. , both urban and rural areas.
  • Sports of high priority:
    • Archery
    • Badminton
    • Boxing
    • Hockey
    • Shooting
    • Wrestling
  • Impact was best to be seen at the 2018 Commonwealth Games where India won 47 out of the 70 medals, bagged by the TOPS awardee athletes.
  • At the 2016 Rio Olympics, TOPS awardees P V Sindhu and Sakshi Malik clinched silver and bronze medals respectively.
  • Under TOPS, the paralympians won four medals including two gold medals.
  • This scheme covered all the athletes including the paralympians.
  • Each athlete was provided with ₹ 50,000 monthly out-of-pocket expenditure apart from best coaching and equipment.
  • Avani Lekhara, the double medalist got a computerized digital target and an expensive air rifle to practice at home.
  • Bhavina Patel, the silver medalist was equipped with an Ottobock Wheelchair and a Table Tennis robot called Butterfly-Amicus Prime.
  • The 47 members Paralympic contingent won a total of 19 medals for India at the Tokyo Paralympics thereby converting the opportunity provided under the TOPS scheme into golds, silvers, and bronzes.

Khelo India Scheme

  • Launched in 2018 with 12 verticals.
  • Aimed at mainstreaming sports as a tool for national, economic, community and individual development.
  • Talent search has been started in two categories:
    • Sports potential talent identification
    • Proven talent identification
  • Grassroot Zonal Talent Identification Committees have been formed to cover remotest part of the country.
  • Spotting talent across 20 disciplines in the age group of 8 to 14 years.
  • Annual financial assistance of ₹ 6.28 lakh per athlete per annum which includes ₹ 1.20 lakh per annum as Out of Pocket Allowance and ₹ 5.08 lakh for other facilities like coaching, sports, diet, equipment, science support, consumables, insurance charges, etc.
  • Khelo India Centre at district levels are eligible to receive ₹ 5 lakh per disciplines as a one-time grant and ₹ 5 lakh per discipline as a recurring grant.
  • Platform is provided to the talented youths both at the School and University levels.
  • Three of them have already been organized and the fourth one is going to be held in Haryana.
  • An Expenditure Finance Committee (EFC) memorandum has been furnished by the Govt. of India to expand the scheme from 2021 - 22 to 2025 - 26 with an estimated budget ₹ 8,750 crores.
  • At present, 2967 (male: 1494 and females: 1473) Khelo India Athletes have been selected on Pan India basis under this scheme.
  • As many as eight sports infrastructures under Khelo India Scheme have been sanctioned and 11 others projects have been taken up in Bihar.
  • Construction and laying of synthetic athletic track at SAI Training Centre at Gujarat have been taken up.
  • In Jharkhand two infrastructure projects for upgradation of Hockey and Football grounds along with construction of multipurpose indoor hall with 12 courts halls have been taken.
Khelo India Scheme

Haryana Case Study

  • Sent the maximum Olympians in the Indian contingent, 31 athletes (25 % of the total contingent) .
  • Three of them brought gold, silver, and bronze medals.
  • Haryana hired coaches for different sports across the State way back in the 1980s.
  • The Sports Policy in 2016 laid down the foundations for Haryana՚s success with a focus on:
    • Spotting
    • Nurturing
    • Polishing talent

‘Play 4 India’

  • A formal institutional mechanism.
  • Each student in school is encouraged to take upon sport.

Motto ‘Catch Them Young, Catch Them Right’

  • Haryana conducts Sports and Physical Aptitude Test (SPAT) in all the schools.
  • To identify the high potential athletes in 8 - 19 age groups.
  • Participants are administered through a battery of standardized tests in three rounds.
  • The qualifiers enter the final round called the Sports and Physical Exercise Evaluation and Development (SPEED) Test.
  • A particular game is selected based on the aptitude and counselling.
  • In the Sports and Physical Aptitude Continuous Evaluation (SPACE) , training is done in the sports academies.
  • A monthly stipend of ₹ 1500 and ₹ 2000 per month is awarded to the students in the age group 8 - 14 years and 15 - 19 years respectively.
  • Cash rewards for successful athletes right from national champions to Olympians.

National Education Policy 2020

  • An opportunity to transform India as a Sporting Nation.
  • Sports would be an integral part of the school and college curriculum.
  • Grading in sports to be counted in the education of the children.
  • Developing human capital, increasing productivity, and fostering social harmony.
  • The curriculum must include:
    • Basic arts
    • Crafts
    • Humanities
    • Games
    • Sports and fitness
    • Languages
    • Literature
    • Culture and values
  • To make education more well-rounded, useful, and fulfilling to the learner.

Samagra Shiksha

  • The flagship scheme of school education in India.
  • Focus on providing sports equipment to schools.
  • Supporting the Khelo India Scheme.

The Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya Scheme

  • Set up at least one residential school in every educationally backward block of India.
  • Provides access to a high-quality holistic education to girls from marginalized communities SC, ST, OBC, BPL and minorities from class VI-XII in residential mode.
  • Facilities for sports such as hockey, kabaddi, kho-kho, badminton, volleyball, etc. have been developed.
  • A platform is provided to girls to excel in sports through Sports meets.

The Eklavya Model Residential Schools Scheme

  • Providing holistic education to the students from ST category in tribal areas of the country.
  • Centre of Excellence for Sports (CoE for Sports) has been planned and implemented.
  • As per norms of Sports Authority of India, the Centre of Excellence would have specialized state-of-the-art facilities for one identified individual sport and one group sport in each state with scientific backup along the:
    • Specialized training
    • Boarding
    • Lodging
    • Sports kit
    • Sports equipment
    • Competition exposure
    • Insurance
    • Medical expenses, etc.


  • The sporting culture in India is limited to only few pockets.
  • One State One Sport would help each state in identifying a major sport.
  • Parents and youngsters are increasingly looking at sports as a career.
  • Initiatives like Fit India has the potential to transform the sports landscape of India.

Participation of Women in Sports

  • P. T. Usha emerged as one of the greatest athletes in the country.
  • Karnam Malleswari became the first Indian women to win a bronze medal in the 2000 Sydney Olympics in women՚s 69 kg category weightlifting.
  • Sports in India is in the process of development.
  • To accelerate the rate of development, holistic approach should be adopted.
  • Efforts are required in developing:
    • Infrastructure
    • Identifying sports talents
    • Organizing regular sports events
    • Generating awareness at the grassroots level

Sports and Education

  • To foster holistic development by promoting physical and psychological well-being.
  • Enhancing cognitive abilities.

FIT INDIA Movement

  • Launched on 29th August 2019.
  • To make fitness an integral part of daily lives.
  • A symbol of paradigm shift in approach towards sports.
  • To bring about behavioural changes.
  • Moving towards a more physically active lifestyle.
Objectives of FIT INDIA Movement
  • To promote fitness as easy, fun, and free activity.
  • To spread awareness on fitness and various physical activities.
  • To encourage indigenous sports.
  • To make fitness reach every school, college/university, panchayat/village, etc.
  • To create a platform for citizens of India to:
    • Share information
    • Drive awareness
    • Encourage sharing of personal fitness stories

Challenges for Women in Sports

Socio-Cultural Issues

  • Herbert Spencer described the way Physical Education was looked at in a girl and boys′ schools in his times in the book ‘Education, Intellectual, Moral and Physical’ .
  • He described the boy՚s playground as an “open gravelled space with ample room for sports and exercises” .
  • The girls school playground had laid out “grim grass plots, gravel walk, shrubs and flowers, with absolutely no chance for any physical recreation” .
  • He further stated, “Women developing a robust physique is undesirable, and rude health and abundant figure are considered plebeian” .

Access to Facilities and Safety Issues

  • India has approximately 100 sports facilities fulfilling international standards of sports infrastructure.
  • Majority of the Indian sports infrastructure facilities are used mainly for hosting international, national, state and district-level games.
  • Lack of security is the biggest issue for a female player.
  • Parents fear that the studies and academic performance would get neglected.
  • Largely neglected facilities in terms of utilization and maintenance:
    • Government-owned college
    • University grounds
    • Community centers
    • Sporting facilities
    • Grounds owned by Urban Local Bodies
    • Grounds owned by Resident Welfare Associations
    • Facilities owned by private entities

Lack of Systematic Interventions and Resources

  • Complications related with bringing in coaches and training persons in rural and tribal areas.
  • Providing young athletes with the resources and support they need.
  • Need for sports federations of India to act more proactively in terms of providing better infrastructure, coaching facilities, and transparent system of selection purely based on merit.

Lack of Awareness Among the Masses

  • Need to focus on changing attitudes and convictions in communities.
  • Playing sports and finding local role models.
  • To initiate intense mass awareness campaigns about the various myths and prejudices surrounding sports and what girls can achieve.
  • Being an athlete can make a woman physically stronger, more competent, and more in control of her life as an independent individual.

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