Tribal talent pool has the potential to give a fillip to the rural economy and to develop a collective leadership
All the political parties should give a proper representation to the youth of the state in the forthcoming assembly and Lok Sabha elections to be held in April. The infusion of new blood in the political system will help the state to meet the new challenges in a globalised economy. The general complain among youth of Odisha is that the political parties do not give a proper representation to them in the elections. And, the political parties do have a proper policy also for their overall development. The youth of the state should know that they can get their due share only through collective bargaining. They need to develop a strong team spirit for developing a collective leadership in the state. And, the sports can play a vital role in developing a fighting spirit in them against all odds; killing instinct to achieve the targets and above all, a collective leadership among the youth.
In fact, the vast reserve of tribal talent pool in Odisha has the potential to give a fillip to the rural economy of the State through sports. Sports activities are no more a pass-time these days. Rather, they have become business-oriented and even some forms of sports have turned into entertainment industry. The age of globalization and liberalization has seen corporate world entering into sports arena and changing the rule of the game forever.
Sportspersons, once respected for their skills, are now being adored by masses largely for their face value and the brands they endorse. Transformation of sports economies the world over has been the result of communication and entertainment technologies.
The brave new world of sports has created a competition not only among the nations but within the States as well. Now, the States use eminent sports personalities to give a power statement! Even the industries use sportspersons for their brand building exercise. The achievements of sportspersons give a collective delight to the soul of a nation or a State. It creates bonding at national, regional or community level; it galvanizes people in other fields. In other words, it brings in business.
In Odisha, Olympian Dilip Tirkey's image can be seen on certain hoardings with the caption, "Home grown, but truly world class" Taking a cue from this caption, a lot can be done in the state to produce true world-beaters in disciplines like hockey, football, athletics and various other sports.
Odisha: talent pool
Odisha has more than 165 tribal communities which account for nearly one-fourth of the total population of the State. There are 16 tribal groups each numbering more than one lakh in population. Then there are more than 10 lakh Kondhs. Eight tribes concentrated in the northern and western part of the State are Bhuinya, Kisan, Munda, Kharia, Oram, Santal, Kolha, Bhumij and Bathudi. Saora, Paraja and Bhattoda live in the southern part. Kondh and Gond tribes are found in many districts. Among these are groups who are hunters and food gatherers while others are shifting cultivators, settled cultivators, horticulturists and artisans. Many of the tribal groups are devoid of their rights over land and forest; non-tribals have taken the rights over major and minor forest products. Driven out of their homes, these people are scattered in city slums or are resettled in non-productive lands.
These tribal people, especially the young ones, have innate physical strength and stamina that are the prerequisites in sports like hockey, swimming and athletics. In hockey, Odisha has seen the talents of players like Lazarus Barla and Dilip Tirkey. Then there are other sports like wrestling, weight-lifting and swimming where youth from tribal and rural belts can do well. Archery and shooting are the two sports where Odisha can get talented young bloods from tribal communities.
Odisha: sports for upliftment of rural economy
Today, any sports played at professional level are linked with economy of a nation and or a State. For instance, if an international cricket match between India and England is played at Barabati Stadium, there will be financial dealings between India and the BCCI, BCCI and the broadcasting channels (over rights), BCCI and the Cuttack Municipal Corporation (over stadium fee and the percentage of income sharing through ticket selling). Aviation industry, hotel industry, manufacturing companies, sponsors, ad companies and others are also indirectly linked with the financial matters pertaining to the game.
A state like Odisha should focus on developing rural economy through sports. This calls for extreme professionalism and advanced sports technology available all over the world. If this plan is carried out sincerely in a systematic way in rural pockets of Odisha, the rural economy can grow exponentially. The advantages / benefits of this approach are as follows:
1.Name recognition for Odisha at national and international level (visibility quotient)
2.Image building of State in terms of human resource development capability
4.Tourist inflow increases resulting profit in business
5. Infrastructure development in rural belts
6.Bonding and patriotism translating in unity and solidarity
Odisha: what needs to be done?
There are a few sportspersons from tribal belts of Odisha who have earned recognition for the State as well as their native place. Though sports activities have increased at rural areas with the sports promotion programs of the Government of India, a lot remains to be done. An observation of the approaches of states like Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Haryana can help to develop a strategy to meet the desired result. The three Cs i.e. Catch-Coach-Compete formula can be adopted to transform tribal youths into world-class achievers. Some of the steps required for this purpose are: (a) scouting talents (b) inculcating in them killer instinct and (c) giving them achievement orientation. This can be done through proper planning and vision. The State will require multiple necessary resources like sponsorship, the electronic media, big and best tournaments with good money, through professional managers and advertisement of various sports schemes throughout the State. In order to scout talented youths and groom them initially, the State administration has to build a sports complex at village level through public-private partnership. This complex will have gymnasium-cum-hall with latest physical fitness instruments, running tracks, playing fields, media cottage with facilities like phone, fax and internet.
There should also be lodging and boarding facilities for out-stationers. The area surrounding the sports complex could have other centers of business activities like tour and travels, restaurants, medical stores and ATM facilities. A face-lift of the rural area will also attract attention of the talent hunters from various sports agencies. On the whole, the area will develop as business zone. When other states in the country have already taken breakthrough initiative in this regard, Odisha is still in slumber. Sadly, the policy makers in the State have less desire to learn the modern ideas of economic opportunity and development! Though there are hurdles on the way, there are immense possibilities too. The time has come; it is here and now. As Albert Einstein once said, "A problem cannot be solved at the level at which it was created. One has to rise to the next level."