Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday announced cash prizes for armed forces’ personnel who won medals at the recently-concluded Asian Games and said whether on a battlefield or a playground “a soldier always performs” because of dedication, discipline, hard work and the desire to do something for the nation.
“Within a soldier, there is a player; within a player, there is a soldier,” he said during his address at a felicitation function held here.
The performance of the players also “reflected the image” of a rapidly growing and powerful ‘new India’, Mr Singh was quoted as saying in a statement issued by the the defence ministry.
He felicitated medal winners, other participants and support staff from the country’s armed forces, who were part of its contingent at the 19th Asian Games held in Hangzhou.
He interacted with a total of 76 players and staff, who attended the event, and congratulated them for their excellent display at the Games.
Had a wonderful interaction with the Asian Games medal winners from the Armed Forces. Their success and spirited performance will inspire India’s youth. Wishing them the very best for their future endeavours.
— Rajnath Singh (@rajnathsingh) October 17, 2023
On behalf of the Ministry of Defence, Mr Singh announced cash prizes to the armed forces personnel, who brought laurels to the country and once again proved their mettle at an international event by “bagging 16 individual medals (3 Gold, 6 Silver and 7 Bronze) and eight team medals (2 Gold, 3 Silver and 3 Bronze) at the Games”, the statement said.
“Gold medal winners will be given Rs 25 lakh; silver medallists will get Rs 15 lakh and bronze medal winners will be awarded Rs 10 lakh. A contingent of 88 soldiers, including three sportswomen, participated in 18 disciplines at the Games, which were held from September 23 to October 8,” it added.
Mr Singh lauded the efforts of the players, including those who gave their best, but could not win medals.
He reminded them of ‘Flying Sikh’ Milkha Singh, who missed a medal in the 400-m race in the 1960 Olympics in Rome by a whisker, but became a guiding star of Indian athletics. Milkha Singh is an inspiration for all even today, the defence minister said.
Defence Minister Singh exuded confidence that these medals and performance will inspire the country’s youth to come forward in sports.
“You are not just representing a medal, but are also representing a narrative of excellence of Indian society. You are a great medium to provide inspiration to the youth,” he told the gathering.
Mr Singh commended the armed forces personnel for always being among the medal winners at different Games.
“Be it a battlefield or a playground, a soldier always performs because of dedication, discipline, hard work and the desire to do something for the nation. These virtues help in bringing medals for us in sports. Within a soldier, there is a player; within a player, there is a soldier,” he said.
He also pointed out that the performance of the players reflected the image of a rapidly growing and powerful ‘new India’.
“Many studies show that the progress in sports of any nation is more or less proportional to the economic prosperity of that country. In this context, as India is becoming an economically strong nation, our medals are also increasing in every field,” Mr Singh said.
He emphasised that under the visionary leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, India is “witnessing growth in every field” such as defence, infrastructure, health and education.
“Be it the World Bank or the International Monetary Fund, India’s development journey is being discussed everywhere. Recently, American financial company JP Morgan Chase released the ‘Government Bond Index – Emerging Markets’ which guides investors. It has included India for the first time. It is the result of our growing economic strength.
“Now, there is an ambition to become the best; a vision to create the best and action to take the country to greater heights. The world is today recognising India’s growth story,” he asserted.
Mr Singh said the government is making relentless efforts to develop sports culture in India.
“On one hand, we have worked to increase awareness about sports among the youth through Fit India and Khelo India campaigns; on the other, through the Target Olympic Podium Scheme, we are committed to increasing India’s medal count in the Olympics. Today, our country is taking steps to host the Olympic Games in 2036. I am confident that with the support of the government, our athletes will take India to the top of the medals tally through their hard work, dedication and passion,” he said.
The ceremony was also attended by Chief of Defence Staff Gen Anil Chauhan, IAF Chief Air Chief Marshal V R Chaudhari, Army Chief Gen Manoj Pande, Vice Chief of the Naval Staff Vice Admiral Sanjay Jasjit Singh and senior officers of Sports Control Board of respective services, the statement said.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)