Despite all the diversity in India and this being considered a country with multiple cultures and indigenous games and sports, for long there has been criticism that India only follows Cricket and none of the other sports and games are encouraged. We cannot just brush away this statement easily, for it does have more than just a grain of truth in it! Yes! India follows and promotes Cricket heavily but in recent times, the importance given to other games have also gone up considerably! The emergence of private leagues for sports like Football, Kabaddi, Volleyball and Badminton, is proof enough of this. However, still the government has not been seen as taking any major initiative to promote other sports. Well, that seems to be changing now!

In a very welcome move, the Indian Sports Ministry has now approved the inclusion of 4 indigenous sports from various regions of India, at the upcoming Khelo India Youth Games 2021! This edition of the nationwide youth games are to be held in Haryana and it will see for the first time, participants of Gatka, Kalaripayattu, Thang-Ta and Mallakhamba, competing for prizes! The Union Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju, talking about this inclusion, said, "India has a rich heritage of indigenous sports and it is a priority for the Sports Ministry to preserve, promote and popularise these games. There is no better platform than the Khelo India Games, where athletes of these games can compete. I am confident that in the 2021 Khelo India Youth Games, these four games along with Yogasana, will get their much deserved attention among sports enthusiasts and the youth of the country. In the coming years we will be able to add more indigenous sports at the Khelo Games!"

Gatka originates from Punjab and is a sport as well as a traditional self-defence technique & fighting style, which is practised by the Nihang Sikh warriors. Thang-Ta originates from Manipur and is a forgotten martial arts form, which has not been recognised for quite some decades now. Mallakhamba is practiced across India in various forms but widely practised in Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh. Kalaripayattu, which is world known, is an ancient martial arts form, which originated in the South of India and is said to even pre-date the Shaolin Temple's martial arts forms, which are famous across the world today. Kerala is said to be the birthplace of Kalari and Bollywood actor Vidyut Jammwal is an ardent student as well as practitioner of this art form. This initiative by the Sports Ministry will definitely augur well for these indigenous sports as well as the youth of the country!