Why Nirmala Sitharaman Mentioned Chess Prodigy R Praggnanandhaa In Budget Speech

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Thursday said that the country is proud of youth scaling new heights in sports and noted that India’s number-one ranked player R Praggnanandhaa put up a stiff fight against the reigning World Champion Magnus Carlsson in 2023. Presenting the interim budget in Parliament, Sitharaman noted that India has over 80 chess grandmasters compared to about 20 in 2010. “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,” she said.

“Chess prodigy and our number-one ranked player Praggnanandhaa put up a stiff fight against the reigning World Champion Magnus Carlsson in 2023. Today, India has over 80 chess grandmasters compared to little over 20 in 2010,” she added.

Last month the 18-year-old defeated China’s Liren with the black pieces at the 2024 Tata Steel Chess Tournament and surpassed the legendary Viswanathan Anand to attain number ranking in India.

Praggnanandhaa, who started playing at the tender age of 5, went on to become India’s youngest and the then world’s second-youngest Grandmaster at age 12 in 2018.

Praggnanandhaa is the fifth-youngest person ever to achieve the title of Grandmaster after Abhimanyu Mishra, Sergey Karjakin, Gukesh D and Javokhir Sindarov. Incidentally, his elder sister R Vaishali is also a Grandmaster, which makes the siblings the world’s first-ever brother-sister GM duo.

Following the 18-year-old’s impressive performance as runner-up in the 2023 FIDE World Cup, Praggnanandhaa rose in player rankings. Though he eventually lost, Praggnanandhaa impressed with his abilities.

India won record tallies in Asian and Asian Para Games last year. Indian athletes brought home 111 medals at the Asian Para Games. The country’s previous best was 72 medals in the 2018 event in Indonesia. India concluded their campaign at the Para multi-sport event in fifth place on the medal tally.

India finished their Asian Games campaign at Hangzhou in China with a record haul of 107 medals – 28 gold, 38 silver and 41 bronze.

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