NEW DELHI : Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said that sports plays an "important role" in uniting India and his government is trying to bring local indigenous sports like kabaddi from various corners of the country to the national level.
"Ours is a country with rich and diverse culture, which has almost 100 languages and more than 1,600 dialects, different eating habits, dresses and festivals. Sports plays an important role in uniting us," he said while inaugurating synthetic track of P.T. Usha's USHA School of Athletics at Kinalur village of Kozhikode district in Kerala.
Modi spoke through video conferencing from the national capital.
He applauded P.T. Usha's contribution to Indian sports and said that the new track would provide modern facilities to the trainees.
"P.T. Usha has been a shining light of sports in India. She endured several challenges in life and went on to enter Olympics final, missing a medal only by a whisker. In the history of Indian athletics very few have achieved a track record like hers," he said.
He also praised USHA School, saying it was like making the best use of every opportunity by utilising simple and limited resources.
Modi said that Usha's "personal attention and focused approach" had started bringing about good results and her trainees had already started making their mark at the international level.
"I have always been of the view that in addition to keeping the body healthy, sports also transforms the personality, bringing about holistic development. It instills discipline and ethos of hard work," he added.
Modi said that sports provides learnings for life, which enrich thought process of the person.
"The sports field is a great teacher. One of the best things one learns on the sports field is equanimity -- to face victory and defeat -- as a part of life," he said.
He said that in today's inter-connected and inter-dependent world, a nation's "soft power" was vital. In addition to a nation's economic and military strength, its soft power was seen as central to its identity.
"Sports has become an important part of that soft power," Modi added.