“It gives me immense pleasure to be inaugurate ‘Yonex Sunrise Dr Akhilesh Das Gupta India Open Badminton World Federation Super Series World Tour’ and confer Life Time Achievement Award to Shri Prakash Padukone.”
I regard this event as one of the most auspicious occasions. Yes, you heard it right. I said “auspicious” because of the fact that I believe nation-building is a great Yagna.
The “Sacred Fire” of this Yagna of nation-building is the intense combination of aspirations, emotions and excitement of more than a billion souls which unite and throb into a single heart beat called, BHARAT in certain moments of time. Sport is one such field that contributes to these moments. These moments are sacred fire that engulfs this nation when our own sons and daughters represent us in the world championships.
Some may call this mass-frenzy. But I choose to call it as sacred fire.
This fire is sacred and auspicious because it cleans the souls of the society to overcome the proverbial “narrow domestic walls” that Kavi Guru Rabindra Nath Tagore talked about.
Thus, each son or daughter of this great country in the sports field could be instrumental in lighting the spirit of Indian-ness and be the leader of nation building. More than any time in the history of India, sports can contribute to nation building in a huge way by not only fostering the spirit of Indian-ness but also in creating facilities and infrastructure.
India is having the world’s highest youth population today. This coupled with enormous progress in technology, IT revolution and social media, the role of sports in nation building will grow further in our country.
Of course, at the same time, we need to recognize the fact that every sport may not attain similar popularity at a given point of time. Each sport has its own temporal and spatial life. May be, as they say ‘cometh the hour, cometh the man’ could be the reason for this. Some personalities take the game to new heights and also its popularity. We have seen such leaders in different sports, including Cricket, Hockey, football, tennis, badminton, Kabaddi and athletics including boxing, billiards, fencing, shooting and archery.
Thus, every sport has its day. Now, we all should feel delighted that the popularity of Badminton has come to stay and it is one of the top sports of the country. I am fully confident that this will continue for long, long time.
Badminton has a unique position among sports. Being a technical sport, it requires good motor coordination and the development of sophisticated racquet movements. At highest levels of play, badminton demands excellent fitness: players require aerobic stamina, agility, strength, speed, and precision.
In this background, it is truly laudable on the part of Badminton Association of India (BAI), under the leadership of Dr Himanta Biswa Sarma, to pay respect and honour to one of the great leaders of Indian sports, Shri Prakash Padukone, who became immensely popular in late seventies and eighties.
No doubt, the Union Government and various State Governments have policies to felicitate sports personalities through various awards, including Dronacharya, Arjuna and Padma awards. But the initiative of the BAI to undertake such efforts speaks volumes about its commitment to Indian Badminton.
Shri Prakash Padukone is a huge inspiration to all the aspiring sportsmen and women in the country. Hailing from a village, Padukone in Karnataka and achieving World Rank No.1 position in Badminton at the age of 25 years is indeed a rare feet by Shri Padukone. He had won the Commonwealth Games gold medal in 1978 in Canada. He was also the winner of the Danish Open, Swedish Open and the All England Championships in March 1980. Even though, the sports infrastructure and facilities were not as well developed as they are now three decades ago, Shri Padukone brought laurels to India through sheer grit and determination.
Besides, his indomitable spirit, passion and commitment to Indian Badminton have never waned. He continued to serve the nation as a coach of Indian teams. Further, he co-founded a Badminton Academy which currently runs the Tata Padukone Badminton Centres in Bangalore and Mumbai. He has been successful in his mission to create next generation leaders in Badminton.
Some of his students like Shri Gopichand have been successfully carrying the torch further. Each of them of them has been our pride, hope and promise. Now we have a third generation of rising stars of badminton and some of them are present here amidst today. Thus this function augurs well for Indian Badminton. It also serves as a tribute to all those Badminton players of the past and present.
While saying this, I recall the quote of the youth icon of India, Swami Vivekananda: “A few heart-whole, sincere, and energetic men and women can do more in a year than a mob in a century.”
I would like to pay my rich tributes to all those who contributed to the Indian sports. All these achievements have helped us to reach where we are today in the world badminton stage.
India Open was first allotted to India by the World Badminton Federation about eight years ago and now it forms the part of World Tour Circuit. We feel proud to learn that the ongoing Championship here in Delhi is a part of world tour event. This means that it is one of the 12 key tournaments in the world and this gives points to the players and helping them in calculation of the World Rankings. This is a huge opportunity for all our Indian players.
Thus, I see a great future for the country in the badminton with promising, beaming and bright faces of Indian youth. I have no doubt that the efforts of all of you and BAI will go a long way in making Indian No.1 in World Badminton.
I thank BAI and its president Dr Himanta Biswa Sarma and all his colleagues. My best wishes to BAI, all badminton players and Shri Prakash Padukone. I also wish all success to the participants and organizers in the Yonex Sunrise Dr ADG India Open BWF Super Series World Tour at Delhi!
With these words, I declare open this ‘India Open BWF Super Series World Tour.”