Sports For A Positive India

India, though an ancient civilization, is a young nation. One of the strongest aspects of our country today is the vibrant youth population. With 66% (more than 808 million) population under the age of 35 India is the largest youngest nation in the world. Nearly 40% of the country’s population is aged between 13-35 years of age.
What is the significance of these statistics? How are we going to provide this huge army of young people with positive avenues of life? Government alone cannot do it. The civil society will have to take a lead in this direction. Stairs, an NGO working for the upliftment of the underprivileged youth through sports, education and health, has recognized the need of the hour. Its youth empowerment programs are sports centric to facilitate the process of creating an enabling environment for underprivileged youth to discover their realities and provide support system to elevate them.
According to the ILO, in developing economies like India, the young people cannot afford to stay unemployed over a long period, but at the same time these youngsters struggle to find decent jobs in the organized sector. As a result most youth are underemployed and struggling for the basic necessities while trying to make a living in the unorganized economy. All this coupled with the lack of education and unemployment lead the underprivileged youth into undesirable activities. The rise of juvenile crime in India is a direct result of such frustration and pent up energies making a dangerous mix. NGOs in India today have recognized sports as a potent tool for youth development programs. It’s important to channelize the young energy into more positive aspect which can give them a scope to grow and realize their capabilities, strengths and talent.
Sports has also been recognized as a powerful tool for social development by the United Nations. The benefits of involving the youth in sporting activities translate into benefits for the entire community. Those who play sports experience a high level of interaction with other individuals within and outside their community. This not only benefits the youngster but also helps in the community’s socio-economic development. Thus, in addition to personal benefits sports also has a broader impact on the overall well being of a community. Sports participation has a positive effect on reducing the involvement and exposure that the young people might have towards violence and unethical activities. Sports offer these youngsters a positive and healthier alternative to sitting idle.
In the early 1980s China was in the same position as India finds itself today. In that era China had a booming youth population and the country’s current success story is said to be a direct result of successfully channelizing the youth into economic productivity. Today, its India’s turn. With more than half of its population under the age of 35 years, our burgeoning youth population can be a boon with proper guidance, coaching, job opportunities, education. This predominance of young population is expected to last till 2050 and with proper youth developmental activities there is no reason why India cannot be the next superpower.

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