TCM Inaugural Sports Lecture
Twenty First Century Media (TCM) held its inaugural sports lecture on 20th January 2015. The idea behind the lecture was to promote sports and a belief that India is at the cusp of a sporting revolution. The revolution will help India establish itself as a formidable sporting nation, which has not been the case so far. Sport is a great leveller and it establishes a nation as a ‘Soft Power’. The speaker of the evening was the legendary Indian batsman Rahul Dravid. The evening was chaired by Ayaz Menon, Sports commentator. Raja Randhir Singh, former Olympic skeet shooter and India’s representative in International Olympic Committee, was also present on the dais.
Raja Randhir Singh, at the dais
Ayaz Menon introduced both the guests. He introduced Rahul Dravid as a player with 24177 runs in International cricket. If one has to look at a role model in sport, Rahul Dravid will certainly be at the top. Rahul Dravid gave an overview on how India could become a sporting nation and what should be done to help the cause. India has a sporting history of more than a century but sport has always been on the back burner until now and that has to change.
Ayaz Menon in conversation with Rahul Dravid
Rahul Dravid took the dais and began by sharing a story. It was a story of a young boy from a small village, Sangli, Maharashtra, who fled his village to join the Indian Army. The boy was then hit by 6 bullets in 1965 war but managed to survive but lost his memory. One day he regained his memory and took up competitive sport once again. He then went on to win India’s first Paralympics Gold medal at Heidelberg, Germany. The name of the boy is Murlikant Petkar. He broke the World Record of that time. It is a story of courage that cannot be compared.He achieved in an environment where all were not supportive. The story gave an opportunity. An opportunity to build a sporting legacy.
Rahul Dravid said that India is at the cusp of a sporting revelation
Rahul Dravid then shared his story on what transpired that made him the man he is. He said that he was overwhelmed when 11 men, led by the great Kapil Dev, were able to defend 182 run against the “mighty West Indies”. He then lauded the contribution of Indian Hockey and the legendary Dhyan Chand, which put India as a sporting nation on the world map.
He said that he had recently read an ‘Ernst and Young’ report about the ‘Dhoni Effect’ which identifies the phenomenon where rapidly growing hinterlands of India are taking the centre stage.
“Actually ‘Dravid Effect’ was when you scored at less than run-a-ball,” he did make a tongue-in-cheek comment.
Dravid lauded the achievements of MC Mary Kom, SainaNehwal, KidambiSrikkanth and also spoke about how the Indian sporting fraternity still can’t do without government support.
He said that an “I can attitude” is needed to lift our nation from every Indian who has the aptitude and desire to insert the fabric of sport into their life, whether urban or rural, boy or girl, wealthy or not, able bodied or not, regardless of region, caste or religion, talent is agnostic. He then presented a five point wish list that could help the concerning cause.
I. S. Bindra, Rahul Dravid, Bishen Singh Bedi, Murali Kartik (from R-L)
Firstly, “We must continue to support our elite athletes and their journey. This must be done whole heartedly.” Secondly, “While elite sports set the standard, it cannot be the be all and end all of sports policy. The net needs to be widened. A system needs to be put in place so the benefits of these elite achievements is captured and delivered to all.”
Thirdly, “We need to bring together and integrate the concepts of sports and education. At one end children must sample sports of different sorts in every school in the country. Sports is a universal language and a wonderful teacher.” Fourth, “We must focus our programs on women’s participation in sports. We have 270 million girls under the age of 25; they hold the future of the country.”
Finally, “Our sporting universe will not be complete if we do not focus equal attention on those who participate in Paralympics and the Special Olympics discipline.”
These issues need to be addressed on a national scale and with a national sports policy. Active steps should be taken by all the shareholders in projects that would raise the water levels of all these stars.
Ayaz Menon introducing the guests
Rahul Dravid also answered some of the questions asked by the audience in the hall. When asked about the chances of India in the Cricket World Cup 2015, he said that India has a great chance. It’s a matter of getting momentum at the right time. But he also showed some concern at the bowling blues of India. Indian bowlers, in the recently concluded test series in Australia, were not able to pick 20 wickets in any of the four test matches. But he hoped that the bowlers could get into form and that India could defend their world title.