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When will India follow Pakistan’s footsteps to make esports an official sport?

When will India follow Pakistan’s footsteps to make esports an official sport?

Abhijit Nair

Published: 7 Feb 2021 8:24 AM GMT

Around three weeks back, Pakistan’s Federal Minister for Science and Technology – Fawad Hussain, took everyone by surprise when he stepped up to reveal the country’s intention to classify E-sports as a ‘regular sport’.

In an announcement made through a tweet, Hussain stated, “A memorandum has been signed between Pakistan Sports Body and Pakistan Science Foundation after which Esports will get regular sports status. If you are interested in video games, get ready as new opportunities are waiting for you."

With Pakistan joining a select group of countries that have officially recognised esports as a regular sport through this landmark announcement, there has just been one burning question amongst the gamers and gaming fans in India.

“When will India do the same?”

Well, frankly, the answer to this question does not seem to be encouraging one bit. Over the years, there has been constant ignorance towards e-sports in India. Though with every passing day more and more people are talking about e-sports as a viable career option, a large chunk of the Indian population continues to believe that e-sports is a waste of time and can lead to some major health issues.

E-sports does not seem to be anywhere near the government’s agenda either. One can, definitely, not recall a single instance of the government even discussing about taking a step towards encouraging the development of e-sports in the country. The Esports Federation of India (ESFI) is a not-for-profit organisation established to promote and organise esports competitions in the country. Esports in India is considered as entertainment and not a sport. Esports athletes, organizers and everyone involved end up paying a 35% entertainment tax because of this, whereas the sports tax in India is at 20%.

On the other hand, easy accessibility to smart phones and the availability of cheap internet services means that more and more people are being attracted towards e-sports and gaming with each passing day. This has also helped India create a highly talented pool of players in various games across different genres.

With the inclusion of e-sports as a medal sport for the upcoming Asian Games in 2022, and the push for its inclusion in the Olympics at an all-time high, it is imperative that the Indian government understands the potential of e-sports and grant it the status of an official sport.

Also read: Who are India’s top e-sports casters?

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