From Suresh Raju
New Delhi, August 24th (IANSlife): While India is pretty well equipped to support sports, some might say that our passion for cricket and our blatant indifference to other sports have cost us many well-deserved medals in competitive sports. Aside from our predilection for cricket, the lack of infrastructure to support more sporting events, minimal nutritional knowledge, and unsupportive sports leadership are challenges we must overcome in order to keep athletic talent shining.
However, as this scenario is slowly changing, many companies, along with the state and central government, are contributing to the sports sector today. In addition to infrastructure, their vision is to improve India’s sports culture, increase the potential of Indian sports and athletes, and create awareness among the younger generation.
Investments in sport and infrastructure are increasing
There was minimal visible improvement in 2019-20 despite state governments investing about $ 120 million in the sports sector. If we want to keep up with China and the USA, the two top Olympic champions, we still have a long way to go. The key issues need to be highlighted and worked on, and where we are now we need to start with the basics.
While infrastructure and governance are administrative issues we can address, nutrition is our concern. Most of the Indian athletes come from our villages, belong to less privileged families and are at risk of malnutrition. In addition to a lack of money, a lack of nutritional information is also a big factor. Children across the country reportedly have poor fitness and a low body mass index (BMI), according to Sportz Village’s 11th annual health survey.
Although the concept of sports nutrition is rapidly catching up in India due to a predominantly young population engaging in activities that require high levels of fitness and nutrition, a large majority still view sports nutrition as a supplement for gym goers.
Increase the focus on nutrition
India has the advantage of being one of the youngest populations in the world. We are becoming increasingly aware and open to the newer concepts such as nutraceuticals and sports nutrition. In 2020 alone, Atmanirbhar Bharat added 1,600 technology startups, many of which were focused on solving problems that focused on solving basic needs. Nutraceutical companies like Fitday are one of those startups looking to make a noticeable difference. They formulate nutraceuticals to support healthy living and advocate preventive diet as opposed to curative drugs. Sports nutrition falls under nutraceuticals.
It is undeniable that we need world class infrastructure if we are to support the sports sector. The Indian government has allocated $ 380 million for sport in the 2020-21 budget. Effective allocation of these funds and more robust government intervention in the form of policies and plans are imperative.
However, attention to sports nutrition is the order of the day. India also needs more nutritionists and dietitians to support the sector. Food is a fair right, not a luxury, and more brands should be established in India to ensure that its 130 billion population has easy access to good nutrition.
Nutraceutical products can become more affordable for the general population if the GST is reduced to the baseplate. Due to the highest tax bracket, sports nutrition is considered a product of the elite.
Raising people’s awareness is important in addressing the problem of counterfeit products. They dig into the market share of original products, drive up costs and damage consumer confidence. Fitday is confident that these challenges can be overcome through strict regulations that require manufacturers to identify the ingredients and their benefits on the packaging and to hold them accountable. On the other hand, however, there is a need to raise awareness of the benefits of dietary supplements and nutraceuticals.
Regardless of the challenges, the Indian sports nutrition industry’s prospect for growth appears to be growing. It can therefore be assumed that the market for nutraceuticals and dietary supplements will grow steadily in the coming years.