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Praggnanandhaa and Indian chess make a surprising appearance at the Interim Budget 2024

by Tina Popli - 05/02/2024

Every year on the 1st of February the Budget of the India is presented by the Finance Minister. This year, in 2024, sports made only a brief appearance and Nirmala Sitharaman spoke only about one sport. Guess, which one that was? Chess! She mentioned about Praggnanandhaa and the fact that Indian chess is growing rapidly. This is a wonderful sign for the sport. We tell you more about this development in the article.

Over the last few years, Indian chess has been experiencing a significant milestone, demonstrating a chess boom in the country. It is evident as we see multiple chess activities happening almost everyday across the country. Notably, Pragg clinched silver in world cup 2023 and also secured sponsorship from India’s richest conglomerate - Adani Group. Vaishali's outstanding performance earned her the esteemed Arjuna Award in 2023, coach R.B. Ramesh was honored with the Dronacharya Award recognizing his exceptional contributions to coaching, Charvi Anilkumar won the Bal Rashtriya Puraskar. Additionally, India secured the silver in both men and women’s section in Asian Games 2023, 5 of the 16 participants at the Candidates 2024 being Indians (Pragg, Vaishali, Vidit, Gukesh and Humpy) and many more.

The stars of Indian chess are shining bright | Photo from the Chess Olympiad 2022

On 1st of February, during the Interim Budget speech, Finance minister, Nirmala Sitharaman took a moment to acknowledge achievements of young Indian sports talents, where she specifically mentioned Praggnanandhaa and acknowledged India's youth in sports. She highlighted, "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. Chess prodigy Praggnanandhaa put up a stiff fight against the reigning world champion Magnus Carlsen in 2023. Today, India has over 80 Chess Grandmasters compared to a little over 20 in 2010."

Nirmala Sitharaman, the Finance Minister of India, presenting the Budget
Praggnanandhaa in Budget

This shoutout coming from her in the parliament during the budget speech is not just an honor for Praggnanandhaa but a milestone for Indian chess. It signifies the government's recognition of chess and its willingness to support and nurture these young talents. In recent years, Praggnanandhaa has not only become the youngest finalist in the history of the Chess World Cup but has also received significant recognition from the high-profile people of the Indian government. Following his remarkable achievement at the World Cup, Prime Minister Narendra Modi personally met Pragg to commend his extraordinary success. Additionally, on January 31, President Droupadi Murmu acknowledged 2023 as a year of significant achievements for India, specifically highlighting the country’s commendable performance at the 2023 Asian Games. These gestures from the government's top officials not only celebrate individual achievements but also shows the government's active role in promoting sporting talent across the country. This rise is definitely not only a matter of pride but also an inspiration to countless youth in our Country which will gradually inspire the new generation of sports talents in India.

The entire world watched with great interest the match between Carlsen and Pragg at the World Cup finals 2023

Understanding more about Budget/Interim Budget 2024

Budget which is also referred as annual financial statement (according to article 112 of the constitution of India) is given by the government (announced by the Finance minister) which describes all the government expenditures and spends. It also outlines the estimated revenues, and financial statements for various sectors including sports, education, health etc. The main objective is to make sure that all the resources are being used efficiently, to change the tax structure accordingly and keep a check on prices of various resources.

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman carrying the Paperless Interim Budget. It is also very interesting to note that, from 2019, the regular brief case has been replaced by a paperless format using tablet.

This year, Interim Budget (for the fiscal year 2024-25) is presented to meet the expenditure of the government till a new government comes into picture which is followed by a full budget once the new government is formed after the general elections which are to be conducted around April/May 2024. Overall, this inclusion of chess in the Budget announced is a good sign for Indian chess and ultimately contributing to the growth of the sport in the country!

About the Author

Tina is a recent graduate of Information Science and Engineering from Bengaluru. Passionate about Chess and technology she always believes that a small step taken today can shape into something big tomorrow.

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