Sports-stars can play a key role in spreading development messages and cricket icon Sachin Tendulkar's participation in major campaigns on hygiene and cleanliness has proved it, a senior Indian diplomat has told the United Nations.
Addressing the UN session 'Sport for development and peace', Srinivas Prasad, Minister on Sports Committee of Indian Mission, also underlined the role of sports as "celebrations of global goodwill".
"The spread of the Olympic movement and the immense growth in popularity of national and world championships of major sports like soccer, basket ball, cricket, hockey and tennis highlight their role as celebrations of global goodwill," he said.
Srinivas said the story of many sports-persons who have risen from poverty and destitution are powerful messages of hope and happiness to millions of young people in the world.
"The sport-stars, in turn, become valuable messengers in spreading developmental messages," he remarked.
"As a national sport of India which reaches millions of people in cities, towns and villages, cricket and its stars provide a very important platform for spreading social messages. Indian cricket's greatest icon Sachin Tendulkar illustrates this.
"Tendulkar was part of a popular national campaign to promote hygiene among children which encouraged schoolchildren to wash their hands before eating food. Similarly, he has recently been a brand ambassador for India's 'Swachh Bharat' or the Clean India campaign," Srinivas said.
Tendulkar, 44, who retired from all forms of cricket in 2013, was invited by Prime Minister Narendra Modi as a public figure to make a contribution towards Swachh Bharat on October 2, 2014.
The minister also apprised the session about Indian government's initiatives which have advanced social and educational development in backward areas.
He talked about the creation of sports hostels spread across the country which he said have been made to take advantage of location-specific sports talent.
"Sports hostels in India, particularly in eastern states of Bihar and Jharkhand, have given platform to young girls from tribal areas of the two states.
"The opportunity has paid dividends not only for the young women themselves but also for India. Today India's junior and senior hockey team are dominated by players who have emerged from these tribal areas," he told the world body.
He brought to light the situation in Naxal-infested Sukma district of Chhattisgarh where introduction of sports in primary schools has brought about a positive change in young students.
"Sport is an important building block for a peaceful and better world," he emphasised.
Srinivas also hailed the designation of April 6 as 'International Day of Sports' as an important marker for flagging the relevance of sports to development and peace. He appreciated the work of the UN office on sports for development and peace over the last decade.
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