Right to Play and the Debate Around It

Sachin Tendulkar in his debut speech at the Rajya Sabha spoke about the importance of Right to Play.

We live in a society today that houses extreme contradictions in its beliefs. Every Sunday we turn on the TV and enjoy a cricket match or a late night football game, but when it comes to allowing our own children to pursue a sport as a career in their lives it is, in most cases, frowned upon. When a child begins his/her schooling s/he is always taught to focus on education and is presented the same slippery slope argument, which is that good grades will lead to success. All other recreational or creative activities are branded to be “extra-curriculars”, implying they aren’t essential to one’s life and development. This approach, however, is absolutely flawed.

Very recently, India’s most loved cricketer, Sachin Tendulkar, who is also a nominated member of the Upper House of the Parliament, used his platform to voice concern over the matter of the exclusion of Right to Play in the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education bill. In his speech, he laid emphasis on the importance of sports and urged the government to make the adequate amendment to the previously mentioned bill.

According to many psychological studies on child development, Play allows children to use their creativity while developing their imagination, dexterity, and physical, cognitive, and emotional strength. Play is important to healthy brain development. It is through play that children at a very early age engage and interact with the world around them.

This issue raised by the former batsman is not one to be taken lightly. It is of high relevance in a country like India where more than half of the country’s 1.25 billion population is below the age of 25 and more than two-thirds, below 35. This year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi also used his platform and called upon children to engage in sports and take up other physical activities while expressing concerns over the rising number cases of obesity or malnutrition among children that are rampantly prevalent in India. Talking about this issue, the iconic athlete also cited many examples of national level players who are struggling to make ends meet while highlighting the importance of providing financial aid, he further added that sports can be considered an essential and mandated part of curriculum and consequently, each life should get the Right to Play at school.

Feature image credits: The Quint

Bhavya Banerjee

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