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India-A Potential Sporting Nation or Not

India-A Potential Sporting Nation or Not


  • A study in a paper in The Review of Economics and Statistics (February 2004) tried to establish that “total GDP is the best predictor of the national Olympic performance”.



  • Study also claimed that host countries are “likely to win an additional 1.8% of the medals beyond what would be predicted by their GDP alone”.

  • Since then, many studies have attempted to understand the factors that influence most the ability of a nation to win medals at the Olympics.

    • One such work after the Rio Olympics showed that medals per hundred billion of dollars (based on purchasing power parity data of 2015) are highest in some Caribbean nations and lowest in some Asian and African nations.

    • These results negate to a considerable extent the hypothesis that total GDP is the best predictor of the performance of a nation at the Olympics.


  • Beyond a threshold level, the average standard of living in a nation and the country’s population size may be important determinants for its performance at the Olympics.

  • The size of total GDP is hardly important in countries like India where a sizable segment is fighting hunger.

    • A person of poor health can never be a good sportsperson.

    • In countries where there are high levels of stunted growth, malnutrition and anaemia, we cannot expect good athletes.

    • Thus, South Asian countries and countries in Sub-Saharan Africa don’t fit in the econometric models built on total GDP.

  • Genetic factors are also no less important:

    • The U.S., Australia and the Netherlands are powerhouses in swimming, but not China.

    • Taller people have an advantage in swimming or basketball but height is not important in shooting or gymnastics.

    • China excels in shooting along with the U.S. and Germany.

    • East Asian nations do better at table tennis than Western nations.

    • Russia, East European nations and Central Asian countries do well in amateur boxing whereas China and Central Asians countries do better in weightlifting and wrestling.

  • Mobilising resources in world-class training provides an edge to sportspersons. Such infrastructure makes

    • U.S. the superpower in athletics and gymnastics

    • Germany in equestrian

    • U.K. in diving, sailing and cycling


  • During colonial rule, India got some exposure to international sporting events earlier than many Asian and African nations:

    • The Calcutta Football League, for example, is the oldest football league in Asia.

    • Durand Cup is the oldest existing football tournament in Asia.

    • This exposure gave India an edge over other ‘Third World’ nations in the 1950s and early 1960s.

  • Resources in India were spread thinly across sports disciplines.

  • As more and more nations started coming into the international sports arena, India’s relative position started declining from the 1970s.

    • Asian countries such as Kazakhstan, Singapore and Malaysia may stand below India in the medal’s tally at the Asian Games, but are ahead of it at the Olympics.

    • This is primarily because India is moderately good at many sports but not good enough to be the best at any of them.

    • In contrast, Jamaica does well at the Olympics in sprinting and Kenya gets medals in long-distance running. They perform better than India though they are not great sporting nations

  • In recent years, India has shown promise in shooting, amateur boxing, wrestling, gymnastics and badminton.

  • India’s best performance at the Olympics was in London (2012) where it won two silver medals and four bronzes and ranked 56th in the medal’s tally.

  • At the Rio Olympics (2016), with one silver and one bronze, India’s rank came down to 67.


  1. Lack of Infrastructure Facilities.

  2. Patriarchal Mindset of Society that restricts Women Participation in Sports.

  3. Parents Forcing Kids to Opt for a stable Career Option Such as Engineering and Doctors.

  4. Most Families are below Poverty Line and it makes them difficult to pick Sports as Career.


  1. Establishment of National Sports University in Manipur with Power to Grant Degrees and Diplomas in Sports would Boost Indian Athletes Knowledge related to Sports such as Sports Sciences, Sports Technology Etc.

  2. The Central Government would inspect the Functioning of University and the University's Executive Council has to comply with Government's Suggestions in Inspection report.

    • It would result in Annual Assessment of University Functioning that would help in Achieving desired results.

  3. The University has to Maintain Fund out of Funds received from Union Government, State Government and from Grants/Gifts. The Funds will be invested as decided by Finance Committee.

    • This would result in Proper Utilisation of Funds in Tasks that are in Benefit of University's Performance.


  • We need to concentrate more on sports where the physical build of an average Indian will not stand as a disadvantage.

  • People of different States have different food habits and build.

    • We need to establish infrastructure as per their habits so that they can perform better in a particular sport.

  • In Schools, one sport as per choice and ability should be made compulsory.

  • At college level, start sport events two times a year- one in summer season and one in winter season to adapt different environment to play.


  • To make India an emerging sporting nation, the policy of “One State, One Sport” can be a game-changer in India. This will cater the need as per the habits of sportsperson to achieve a good position in a tournament.

  • Athletes represent India at Global Levels of Sport. The need of Hour is implementation of the Bill to ensure Timely Establishments of University to cater the need of Athletes at International Levels.

SOURCE: The Hindu