- Supreme Court has sought governments’ opinion on declaring Sports as a Fundamental Right
- Physical fitness has been on decline in kids which leads to further decrease in mental health, resulting in a weak population
- Moving our body is an evolutionary wired need and a nation cannot progress without physically fit people
‘Padhoge likhoge banoge Nawab, Kheloge Kudoge banoge Kharab’. To a large extent, the phrase acts as a treasure trove for most Indian parents as well as the teachers of their children. Meanwhile, as a society, we forgot the positive side of sports. Now, a weakening population has forced the concerned stakeholders to strive towards declaring Sports as a Fundamental Right.
SC seeks response from Governments
The Supreme Court has asked Centre and the States to put forward their view on declaring Sports as a Fundamental Right. The suggestions have been sought after senior advocate Gopal Sankarnarayanan, who was appointed as an amicus curiae in a PIL filed by sports researcher Kanishka Pandey submitted his report in SC.
Instead of sports, Sankarnarayanan used the term “physical literacy” which includes Yoga and other activities as well. In his report, Amicus Curiae also suggested that boards like CBSE and ICSE should make sure that 90 minutes of every school day should be dedicated to “free play and games”
The recommendation that engaging in physical activity should become a Fundamental Right of every citizen is extremely significant as it will ensure that a citizen will have recourse to the Court if he/she is not availed of a sporting facility by designated authority. In fact, the individual can directly approach the High as well as Supreme Court if the Right is violated.
Sports have been subjected to denigration campaigns
If there was ever a time to put an emphasis on sports and fitness, then it is now. The country’s fitness level is in decline. According to a 2019 report by Times of India, a survey found that 64 percent of Indians do not exercise at all. Even amongst those who said that they exercise regularly, most of them (67 percent) said that they preferred brisk walking, a meek and probably laziest form of exercise. Only 26 percent were found engaging in Yoga/pilates and other exercises.
This kind of lackadaisical attitude emanates from their poor background in sports. We can claim with a certain degree of certainty that most Indians have been given only negative feedback about engaging in physical activity. When they were at home, their parents told them to focus on studying and there was an extremely low possibility of getting into a full-time career through sports. Similarly, Schools prohibited them as they were supposedly working to ‘enlighten’ students through knowledge.
The education system failed to pass on the message that engaging in physical activity is not only beneficial to the body, but the mind as well. Then when these kids grew up, they almost did not know about the importance of fitness in both aspects which work in tandem to declare someone as ‘healthy’. The rest of the damage was done by 24*7 availability of entertainment through the Internet.
Results of ignoring sports have been detrimental
The results have been catastrophic to say the least. Basically, we got a huge workforce to join the Silicon valley, but not mentally fit enough to tolerate the heat of the competitive environment. Not having a fit base is the main reason why people in private jobs are often found leaving their jobs in their mid thirties.
The declining fitness levels have not just affected the corporate sector, but our defence sector is also facing a lack of officers. According to a December 2021 report by Economic Times, the Army could not find suitable candidates to fill up as many as 7,476 candidates. Similarly, in the Air Force and Navy, this number was 621 and 1,265 respectively. It is not that candidates are not applying in large numbers. Instead the data suggests otherwise as with slight deviation in session wise pattern, the number of candidates filling up NDA form has been same. Similar pattern has been observed in the number of Combined Defence Services applicants as well.
Additionally, the negligence towards sports at early age resulted in India’s continuous shoddy show at supranational sports events like Olympics. It was only when PM Modi took it upon himself to transform professional sports that the country witnessed an upsurge in Medal tally. Prime Minister also launched the Fit India movement to promote fitness among the general population of the country.
Need for change
Sometimes, society forces change from the top and sometimes governments sprinkle people with key changes, which percolates down the ladder. If sports is declared as Fundamental Right, the onus will be on educational institutions as well as parents to follow the trend.
Our body is not designed to work tirelessly in soulless corporations. It is unnatural for us to sit on a chair for 12 hours a day. Though, it is a need of the hour, we have to take into account its negative impact on the body as well. A nation cannot grow without a Fit population, especially the Youth.