The 1 Billion Population Conundrum


So for past few days (post the Olympics getting over) I been hearing this constant refrain that a country of One billion people got only 6 medals and how much smaller countries than ours won so many medals.

Now these are comments of the people who like to say such things because it makes them sound so aware and so concerned about the state of the nation

But let’s look at the facts of the one billion population:

1. It is now 1.2 billion

2. Close to 70% is rural India and whatever the Government might say about BPL (Below Poverty Line) and what is the number below BPL, leave aside progressive states where agriculture is really big and generates enough of money for the people, most are very poor and have hand-to-mouth existence. So they really cant be the hope for medals.

3. Almost 65% of the population is under 35. Which means that close to 400 million are out of any kind of reckoning to go for a medal. That leaves 800 million and if you apply the formula of 70% rural India, 560 million live in rural India and one can easily discount about 70% of them since they have only subsistence on their mind. So that leaves about 150 million from rural India who could perhaps think of a medal.and if one were to apply the number of 50% under 25, about 75 million

4. Now lets look at urban population which is approx 30% or 360 million. 35% of which would be over 35 and out of the race so about 120 million. Balance of 240 million pruned by to 120 million (50% population under 25).

So in effect there is possibly a population of about 200 million which can aim for the medal.

Out of these, how many actually get to pursue sports as a serious activity? Parental pressure to perform well in the studies or perish in the cut throat educational system and jobs makes many of them leave sports for studies. I will go out on my limb and say that I can safely remove 150 million (those who can’t and those who could not).

That leaves 50 million – or 5 crore who can actually take up sports as a career. Now given that other sports don’t offer enough incentive to take it up as a profession, a large part gravitates to cricket with great dreams in their eyes and fall by the way side and give up.

So what does this tell us?

I think India has done fabulously well to get 6 medals! which has double the tally from previous Olympics! And I am sure that the next one, we will have even more medals and even Gold medals. What these 6 have done (and all the money the corporates and government are giving) will go a long way in getting people to realize that their is life beyond cricket and while you do country proud, you can make money too.

So off to Rio we go.

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