"Haryana, which accounts for merely 2 per cent of the country's land and population, has contributed 33 per cent of the medals won by India at international events," Tharoor said late on Wednesday evening at the launch of the book, 'Say Yes to Sports'.
"I had read somewhere that had Haryana been an independent country, which of course we won't let happen, it would have ranked fifth in the medal tallies at Delhi Commonwealth Games, ahead of 66 countries," he said.
Tharoor: Sports should be a mainstream skill in schools
The book, authored by former Haryana Sports Director, OP Singh, documents Haryana's emergence as a sporting powerhouse and decodes how sports is a key differentiator for developing countries and their people. Singh, an IPS officer, who served as the state's Sports Director from 2008-12, contributed to its transformation into a sporting giant with the iconic programme "Play for India".
The programme, which was part of Haryana government's "You give us medals and we'll secure your future" campaign, was aimed at identifying 5,000 prospective international medal winners in the 9-19 age bracket and subsidising the cost of their education, training and equipment.
"Our education system focuses mainly on four skills for our children reading, writing, debating and accounting. Why don't we have sports as one of the mainstream skills in our schools," Singh said.
According to Tharoor, drawing strength from our neighbour, China, which over the last two decades committed itself to creating a phalanx of sporting superstars, India can create a parallel example of sporting glory if it can harness the potential of its youth with a clear roadmap.
"We will have millions of people glued to their television sets to watch Sachin Tendulkar's last match but how many youths in our country dream of being Sachin or are ready to make those efforts which are required to attain that calibre," he said.
The book seeks to reposition sports as a service sector industry to generate income and employment opportunities around extra-scholastic skills for enterprising youth.