During the presentation of the interim budget in Parliament, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman expressed pride in the achievements of the country’s youth in sports. She highlighted the remarkable progress in chess, noting that India now boasts over 80 chess grandmasters, a significant increase from the mere 20 in 2010.
Sitharaman specifically commended Praggnanandhaa, India’s top-ranked player, for his formidable performance against reigning World Champion Magnus Carlsson in 2023. The finance minister underscored the positive trend in sports, emphasising the record-breaking medal tallies achieved by Indian athletes in the Asian Games and Asian Para Games in 2023.
She pointed out that India’s athletes secured an unprecedented 111 medals at the Asian Para Games, surpassing the previous best of 72 medals in the 2018 event. Additionally, the Asian Games concluded with India securing a record haul of 107 medals, including 28 gold, 38 silver, and 41 bronze.
“The country is proud of our youth scaling new heights in sports. The highest ever medal tally in Asian Games and Asian Para Games in 2023 reflects a high confidence level,” she said.
“Chess prodigy and our number-one ranked player Praggnanandhaa put up a stiff fight against the reigning World Champion Magnus Carlsson in 2023. Today, India has over 80 chess grandmasters compared to a little over 20 in 2010,” she added.
Praggnanandhaa impressed everyone with his outstanding performances
FM Nirmala Sitharaman further acknowledged Praggnanandhaa’s recent triumph at the 2024 Tata Steel Chess Tournament, where he defeated China’s Liren and claimed the number-one ranking in India, surpassing the legendary Viswanathan Anand. The finance minister highlighted Praggnanandhaa’s journey, starting from playing chess at the age of 5 to becoming the youngest Grandmaster in 2018 at the age of 12.
Notably, Praggnanandhaa’s achievement is not isolated within his family, as his elder sister R. Vaishali is also a Grandmaster, making them the world’s first-ever brother-sister GM duo. Sitharaman’s positive remarks about the youth excelling in sports, particularly in chess, reflect the government’s recognition of the significance of sports in fostering national pride and confidence. The finance minister’s comments indicate a commitment to nurturing and supporting the country’s budding talents in various sporting disciplines.