Looking beyond Bharat Ratna
We Indians are emotional beings when it comes to hero worship. Recently, we seem to have lost our sense of humor over a cartoon on Ambedkar. Are we also missing a few things while celebrating Anand’s victory and the Bharat Ratna issue?
Let us rewind to when Anand started playing chess. He had very little technical support, such as computers and software, while his European and Russian counterparts enjoyed advanced technical aides. India never had the kind of chess culture that Russia had, despite inventing the game. Consequently, Vishy never had strong support staff and had to frequently travel to Russia, as he admitted in post-match interviews.
Now, compare this with Russia, where Chess is compulsory in schools, and there are numerous Chess academies. While the erstwhile Soviet Union supported chess teams and academies, they failed to sustain economic support to these institutions post-1991.
Today, India may be allergic to communist ideas, but if we truly want to promote chess and produce many more Anand-like success stories, we should consider seeking help from our once-beloved ally.
India needs to take sports seriously. Our performances in global events such as the Olympics have been far from impressive. In the annual budget for 2011-12, the Youth Affairs and Sports Ministry was allocated only Rs. 1.121 crore, nearly one-third of the previous year’s Rs. 3,315.67 crore. This lack of investment in sports sums up the issue.
While conferring the Bharat Ratna on Viswanathan Anand is justified, we must think beyond that. We should look at Vishy’s success story as a blueprint and focus on promoting a sports culture throughout the country. Investing in sports infrastructure, providing proper coaching, and nurturing young talent will pave the way for more Anand-like achievements. We need to prioritize sports development and provide the necessary resources to help our athletes excel on the global stage.