In a colourful, vibrant start PM inaugurates Khelo India Youth games, says great way to start 2024

Chennai, Jan 19 (UNI) The Khelo India Youth Games-2023 got off to a colourful and vibrant start with Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurating it on Friday evening by lighting the games torch and said it was a great way to start the year 2024.

After the formal welcome address by Tamil Nadu Youth Welfare and Sports Development Minister Udhayanidhi Stalin, colourful cultural events gave a vibrant start to the 2-week long sporting extravaganza, being organised by Tamil Nadu for the first time after which Mr Modi declared the Khelo India Youth Games-2023 open at the end of his speech.

Later, Mr Modi started his address by saying “Vanakkam Chennai’ (welcome Chennai) in Tamil and said said Khelo India Games was a great way to start 2024.

These games will help nurture young sporting talent, he said.

Stating that Tamil Nadu is a land that creates champions, the Prime Minister said he was happy that TN’s traditional sport Silambam has been added to the Games and for having freedom fighter Rani Velu Nachiyar as the mascot.

Velu Nachiyar was the first Indian queen to wage a war with the East India Company in India and she is known by Tamils as Veeramangai (“brave woman”).

Welcoming everyone to the Games, Mr Modi said it is a great way to begin 2024.

He said the people gathered on the occasion represent a young India, a new India whose energy is taking the country to new heights in the world of sports. He extended his best wishes to all athletes and sports lovers who have arrived in Chennai from across the country.

“Together, you showcase the true spirit of Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat”, he remarked adding that the warm people of Tamil Nadu, the beautiful Tamil language, its culture and cuisine will make the athletes feel at home. The hospitality of Tamil Nadu will win all hearts and that the Khelo India Youth Games will provide the opportunity to showcase the skills. “New friendships made here will also last a lifetime”, he added.

Referring to the Doordarshan and All India Radio projects that were inaugurated and for which foundation stone was laid today, the Prime Minister said that Channai Kendra that started broadcasting in 1975 is embarking on a new journey today. 12 Akashvani FM projects in 8 States will cover 1.5 crore people.

Highlighting Tamil Nadu’s contribution to sports in India, the Prime Minister said that it is a land that produces champions.

Mentioning the tennis champions Amritraj Brothers, India’s Hockey captain Bhaskaran who led India to a gold medal in the Olympics, Chess players Vishwanathan Anand, Praggnanandhaa and Paralympic champion Mariyappan, the Prime Minister expressed confidence that all athletes will derive inspiration from the land of Tamil Nadu.

The Prime Minister highlighted the importance of exposure for the athletes and for that emphasized the utility of holding big sporting events in the country.

He said Khelo India Abhiyan is playing the role of finding talent at the ground level that is participating in these mega events. He mentioned 12 Khelo India games, Khelo India Youth Games, Khelo India University Games, Khelo India Winter Games and Khelo India Para Games as great opportunities to play and find talent.

He said that now, four grand cities of Tamil Nadu, Chennai, Trichy, Madurai and Coimbatore are ready to host the athletes. “Be it a participant or a spectator, the fascinating beaches of Chennai will attract everyone”, the Prime Minister said. He also mentioned the aura of the magnificent temples of Madurai, Trichy’s temples and its art and crafts and the industrious town of Coimbatore and said that the experiences in each of Tamil Nadu’s towns are unforgettable.

The Khelo India Youth Games, the Prime Minister said, will witness the participation of athletes from all 36 states and union territories of India. “The atmosphere of competition among 5,000 plus athletes during Khelo India Youth Games will be worth an experience”, the Prime Minister said mentioning archery, athletics, badminton, and squash which has been included in Khelo India Games for the first time and Silambam a martial art originating in Tamil Nadu, among other sports. “Khelo India Youth Games will bring together the resolve, commitment and belief of all athletes and the nation will be a witness to their dedication, self-confidence, never-say-die spirit and passion for extraordinary performances”, he said.

The Prime Minister remembered Saint Thiruvalluvar and said that through his writings, Saint Thiruvalluvar inspired the youth and gave them direction. Quoting the great saint, the Prime Minister mentioned his teaching of staying strong in adversity. Khelo India Logo also carries his image.

The Prime Minister expressed happiness that VeeraMangai Velu Nachiyar is the mascot of this edition of the games, he said “It is unprecedented for a real-life personality to be chosen as the mascot. Veera Mangai Velu Nachiyar is a symbol of women power. Today her personality is reflected in many decisions of the government. With her inspiration, the government is continuously working to empower sportswomen. He listed women leagues on 20 sports and initiatives like ‘Das kas Dam’ as opportunities to showcase the sporting prowess of women athletes.

Throwing light on India’s recent successes in sports post-2014, the Prime Minister mentioned India’s best-ever performance at the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympic Games, historic performance at the Asian Games and Para Games, and the new record of medals at the University Games. Pointing out that it is not an overnight success, and that the athletes were passionate even in the past, the Prime Minister said that they got a boost in enthusiasm and support from the government in the last 10 years. “In the last 10 years, the government reformed, the athletes performed and the entire sports system transformed in India”, the Prime Minister remarked. He mentioned the Khelo India campaign which provides monthly support of Rs 50,000 to thousands of athletes in the country and the Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS) Initiative launched in 2014 which ensured training, international exposure and participation in big sporting events for top athletes. “With India’s eyes on the Paris Olympics to be held this year and the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics, every possible assistance is being provided to athletes under the TOPS initiative”, he said.

The Prime Minister said “Today, we are not waiting for youth to come to sports, we are taking sports to youth”. He highlighted that campaigns like Khelo India are realizing the dreams of youth from rural, poor, tribal and lower-middle-class families. Including showcasing local talent as part of the Local for Vocal mantra, the Prime Minister reiterated his efforts for international exposure for local talent. He pointed out that many international tournaments have been organized in India in the last 10 years. Referring to the recently held Beach Games in Diu, PM Modi said that the games where 8 traditional Indian sports featured were attended by 1600 athletes, will greatly benefit the coastal cities as these games have started a new era of beach games and sports tourism.

The Prime Minister underlined the government’s resolve to provide international exposure to India’s young athletes and the nation becoming an important center of the global sports ecosystem. “Therefore”, the Prime Minister said, “we are working diligently to host the Youth Olympics in 2029 and the Olympic Games in 2036 in India.” Emphasizing that sports is not limited to just the field but is a huge economy in itself creating many employment opportunities for the youth, the Prime Minister reiterated his guarantee to make India the third-largest economy in the world. He stated that the government has been making all efforts to increase the share of the sports economy and developing sports-related sectors in the past 10 years. He mentioned the focus on skill development to nurture sports professionals and the creation of a sports equipment manufacturing and services ecosystem in the country.

The Prime Minister said that the government is providing a platform to the professionals related to sports science, innovation, manufacturing, sports coaching, sports psychology, and sports nutrition in the country.

He said the creation of India’s first National Sports University in the past years, creation of more than 300 prestigious academies in the country under the Khelo India campaign, 1,000 Khelo India centers and more than 30 centers of excellence.

In the new National Education Policy of the country, the Prime Minister informed that sports has been made a part of the main curriculum helping create awareness about choosing sports as a career in childhood itself.

Talking about the expected growth of India’s sports industry to one lakh crore rupees, Mr Modi noted the new awareness about sports and the resulting growth in broadcasting, sports goods, sports tourism and sports apparel business. Shri Modi said it is the effort of the government to create manufacturing clusters for sports equipment in different parts of the country.

The Prime Minister pointed out that the sports infrastructure that has been created under Khelo India is becoming a great source of employment.

He said various sporting leagues are also creating new jobs. “Today, for our youth in schools and colleges who want to make their career in sports-related sectors, their better future too is Modi’s guarantee” the Prime Minister added.

“India is making waves in every sector, not just in sports”, the Prime Minister said emphasizing that the New India has started breaking old records and creating new ones. He expressed belief in the potential of India’s youth, its faith, determination, mental strength and desire to win. He said that today’s India can set huge goals and achieve them.

He expressed confidence that this year will witness the creation of new records and marking new achievements for the nation and the world. “You have to move forward because India will move forward with you. Get together, win and make the country win. I declare Khelo India Youth Games 2023 open”, the Prime Minister concluded.

During the inaugural ceremony, the Prime Minister also launched and laid the foundation stone of projects related to the Broadcasting sector worth about Rs 250 crore. This included the launch of the revamped DD Podhigai channel as DD Tamil; 12 Akashvani FM projects in 8 States; and 4 DD transmitters in Jammu and Kashmir. In addition, the Prime Minister will lay the foundation stone for 26 new FM transmitter Projects in 12 States.

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