For decades, Odisha was considered as one of India’s most backward states. But under the leadership of Naveen Patnaik, it has made huge strides in every sphere, from human-development indices and disaster management to becoming the role model for India’s future sporting programme. This book, co-authored by Boria Majumdar, one of India’s best known sports scholars and commentators, and Vineel Krishna, Secretary Sports for the Government of Odisha, is an attempt to make sense of that transformation, especially in the sporting space. It is a tale of what can happen when a wealth of untapped talent is harnessed by proper administration and planning, and the creation of state-of-the-art infrastructure. It is the story of how a state stepped in at the last minute to stage a major event, and how its success turned into a springboard for future endeavours. It documents the sea change that has been witnessed in the past half-decade, with the creation of world-class stadia, high-performance centres and hostels to house the most talented kids from the relatively under-developed regions of the state. It’s also testament to the resilience and determination of the athletes, many of whom have overcome colossal odds to shine on the world stage. Most of all though, it’s a story of hope – of what can happen when a government prioritises its people and recognises the power of sport to bring about lasting and positive social change.
Boria Majumdar, a Rhodes scholar, is recognized as one of India’s most influential commentators. Having covered international sport between 2000 and 2017, he is currently Consulting Editor, Sport, India Today Group and Senior Research Fellow, University of Central Lancashire. He was formerly Sports Expert at Times Now and Visiting Professor at the Universities of Chicago and Toronto. Majumdar has written more than 1,000 columns on sports over the last fifteen years, and has authored or co-authored multiple books, among them Olympics: The India Story (with Nalin Mehta) and Playing It My Way—Sachin Tendulkar’s autobiography.
Vineel Krishna Ravella is an IAS officer in Odisha cadre. He is currently serving as Special Secretary to Chief Minister and Secretary, Sports and Youth Services Dept. He is a graduate from IIT Madras and awarded fellowships at Stanford University and London School of Economics. He has wide experience working in the tribal areas and tackling serious Maoist issues and resolving communal problems. He has worked in the mining sector, urban development, disaster management, district administration, internal security, rural development, Forest and environmental management. He has worked in the Government of India as Private Secretary to Union Cabinet Minister and also in the UNDP. His dedicated efforts in realising the vision of Hon’ble Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has helped Odisha become a leading sports hub in the country.
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