Sport has the ability to bring out the best in us – both as individuals and as a nation. It unites us across region, caste and economic differences.
There was no Indian who did not have a lump in their throat when Hima Das came up from behind and crossed the finish line as the first woman to win Gold. Nor anyone who did not have tears running down their cheeks when our National Anthem played as she stood, visibly overwhelmed, on the podium.
Till a few years ago, every medal we won (in a sport besides cricket) was an outlier – someone who defied the odds that were stacked against them – competing as they were with global athletes who had been spotted as young children, and trained and groomed from a young age with world class resources and infrastructure.
Things have changed in the last few years. There has been a realization that we cannot expect the Government to take upon itself the onus of building a world class sporting environment when it is stretched between the many priorities of a developing economy. This is where Corporate India needs to step in.
The Inspire Institute of Sport, Olympic Gold Quest, GoSports Foundation, Indusind For Sports are some private initiatives that have as their aim to develop Olympic level athletes by developing and supporting them with access to world class coaching, infrastructure, sports science and adminstrative support. Many of our athletes that are now winning at the international level have some association with these institutes. But there is still a long way to go.
The Government has now made it easier for CSR monies to be diverted towards building sports development. It has widened the scope of what qualifies as corporate social responsibility in India to include infrastructure construction and maintenance, which is essential for nurturing a larger pool of aspiring sportspeople.
However, though many companies sign on sportspeople as brand ambassadors, there has not yet been a significant shift when it comes to spending on training or building infrastructure for Olympic and rural sports. According to Goodera, a CSR and sustainability management platform, only INR 122.71 crores of a total spend of INR 6,810 crores of CSR monies were allocated to sport.
This is largely due to the mindset that sport has limited impact, while education and healthcare are higher priorities with more widespread impact. However, a single athlete winning inspires many more to take up the sport, and also helps in building a sporting culture within a country.
Studies have shown that a sporting culture is essential to improve health metrics, and is an essential step towards a model of preventative healthcare. Female athletes help in the empowerment of women and sports breaks down caste and other social barriers.
At Borosil, we have been supporting the Inspire Institute of Sport. There are many corporates such as ONGC, Tata Steel and Hindustan Zinc who are supporting such initiatives, however, we need many more to come forward if we are to truly take our place in the international arena. For a country with our size and potential, we are nowhere close to where we should be, and it is incumbent upon us at India Inc to step forward and claim responsibility to make the change.
Views of the author are personal and do not necessarily represent the website’s views.
Priyanka Kheruka is Brand Head at Borosil Glass Works Ltd. The Wharton graduate has led Borosil through her vision and initiatives to transform beyond their pioneering capabilities in glassware to a trusted consumer products brand across kitchen to table solutions. Kheruka truly lives by the Borosil legacy of developing safe, healthy and hygienic products.