Fuelling podium finish: Oil’s doing well for Indian sports
New Delhi: Oil may be pinching fuel consumers hard but it is working well for Indian sports, with a third of the 69 Jakarta Asian Games medal winners on the rolls of state-run oil companies.
For decades, the railways, Air-India and its sister carrier Indian Airlines – before their merger – cradled India’s sporting talent. But as changing economy knocks the wind out of their bottomlines, the mantle has been taken over by state-run oil companies.
The companies have for many years been sponsoring tournaments and employed a star cast of sportspersons — ONGC’s Virender Sehwag, Mohd Kaif, Gautam Gambhir, Virat Kohli; IndianOil’s P Gopichand or BPCL’s M M Somaya, a member of the 1980 Olympics gold-winning Indian hockey squad. But as sports becomes an important part of the government’s rural thrust, the focus has shift- ed on catching talent young, especially from economically weaker backgrounds, for grooming.
The results are here. Fifteen of this year’s Asiad medal winners are from ONGC, which had 38 members in the Indian contingent. IndianOil contributed eight. “Coming from a humble background and after facing setbacks in my life, IndianOil has become my family,” Krishan Pathak, member of the bronze-winning hockey squad, said at a recent function.
His teammate Simranjeet Singh said they could give their all on the field because the company “ensured we are well equipped and enabled us to take care of our families better”. “Sports is an important indicator of a nation’s growth and development. India has a huge pool of sporting talent and once nurtured, they become invincible,” ONGC chairman Shashi Shanker said.
According to IOC director (HR) Ranjan Kumar Mohapatra, sports is not a brandbuilding medium but an integral part of the company’s philosophy and key CSR component. “We want to create a sports revolution at the grassroots by providing coaching facilities and kits in government schools, encourage former sportspersons to pursue coaching to groom talent.”
Krishan Pathak, member of the bronze-winning Asian Games hockey team, works for IndianOil