Consciously fashioned to foster the concept of Olympism and strengthen the fibres of the Olympic Movement in India, the fecundity of the National Games brings to the mind an enchanting panorama of history that is truly fascinating.
On the threshold of the 35th edition in Thiruvanthapuram, it is not easy refrain from examining the vicissitudes of a festival of sport, designed to elevate the sense of humanism and camaraderie among the youth and the sports fraternity across the country.
This country owes an enormous measure of gratitude to the founding fathers like Dr. A. G. Noehren (Director YMCA) and Harry Crowe Buck (founder of YMCA College in Madras) who conceptualized the idea of a sporting event to assimilate and channel the energy of the youth.
The games were launched in 1924 at Lahore under the pompous title, “Indian Olympics”. Planned to be held once in two years, the first three editions were surprisingly all held in the city of Lahore. After the eighth edition (1938) in Calcutta, the event was christened the National Games.
What probably prompted this sports carnival was the need to identify national talent that could be picked for the Olympic Games. In the absence of established national federations for each discipline, a multi-sport event enjoyed the patronage of the high mighty.
The support by the royalty of Patiala, Bhunpinderjit Singh, Yadavendra Singh and Bhalindra Singh, firmed up the foundation of the Indian Olympic Association. Equally notable was the part by the founder of IOA, Dorabji Tata.
The succession of the dynamic officials like Guru Dutt Sondhi and Ashwini Kumar enhanced the stature of the IOA among the comity of nations, including the IOC. However, the image and identity of the IOA somewhat dimmed when there was a proliferation of national federations in various disciplines, each holding its own national competitions annually.
At one point it was even thought the National Games were redundant. The chain was broken more than once but the energy and endeavour of Presidents like V.C.Shukla, Sivanthi Adityan and Suresh Kalmadi ensured that the Games retained their values.
Notwithstanding the frequent periods of stresses and strains, the Olympic Movement has not lost its sheen or vigour. On the contrary, it is strengthening thanks to the involvement of the state governments across the country in creating sophisticated state-of-the-art infrastructure in centres like Pune, Guwahati and Ranchi.
The 35th sports carnival returns to Kerala after 28 years, the last being 1987.
A new brave dawn waits the youth of India, and more specifically, to those in God’s Own Country.
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Updated Date: Feb 01, 2015 14:32:37 IST