Union Minister Anurag Thakur on Friday said India's G-20 presidency reflects the country's growing power on the world stage. (More Sports News)
"The G-20 presidency will give fillip to the country's image and economy. Fifty-five cities will host 200 meetings of the world's 20 most powerful countries. This is the growing power of India," Thakur said, addressing the inaugural function of the 3rd edition of Khelo India Winter Games here, 55 km from Srinagar.
More than 1,500 players from 29 states and Union territories of the country will take part in the five-day event, the sports minister said.
Thakur said sports not only was a unifying platform, but also reflected the soft power of the country.
"Sports is a soft power. When a player wins an international medal, it unites the country. Gold medal by Neeraj Chopra ended India's 121-year wait for athletics gold at the Olympics. This sparked celebrations across the country," he said.
Thakur said that last year was big for Indian sports as athletes from various fields excelled in their respective games at international events.
"We had the highest medal tally at the Summer Olympics and paralympics. P V Sindhu won back-to-back Olympic medals in badminton, which is no mean feat," he added.
Earlier, the minister e-inaugurated 40 Khelo India sports centres, which have come up in Jammu and Kashmir.
"It is a moment of pride that what other states could not do JK has done. All districts of JK have an indoor stadium and playgrounds have come up across the UT," he said.
Thakur said Prime Minister Narendra Modi wants big sports centres to come up so that sportspersons of the country can excel.
"A sports university is coming up in Manipur and a centre of excellence in winter sports will soon come up in Gulmarg," he said.
The minister said the situation has vastly changed in Jammu and Kashmir in the past three years.
"Places where stone pelting was common, we now have sports flourishing and see budding players. If you see lights on at night, you will find Kashmiri youths practising their sports. That's how much the situation has changed in Jammu and Kashmir," he added.
Thakur promised all support to players from Jammu and Kashmir and other parts of the country.
"We will continue our support to you. You need facilities, coaches or funds, we will provide it," he said.
Referring to the record-breaking tourist arrivals in Jammu and Kashmir last year, the minister said the stakeholders in the sector will have to be innovative to increase the footfall of visitors.
"Snow cricket can be one innovation that can improve tourism in Kashmir," he said.