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Nirmala Sitharaman highlighted chess prodigy R Praggnanandhaa during her budget speech.

Nirmala Sitharaman highlighted chess prodigy R Praggnanandhaa during her budget speech.

In her recent budget speech to Parliament, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman highlighted the exceptional achievements of Indian youth in the realm of sports, notably singling out R Praggnanandhaa for his remarkable performance in chess. Sitharaman proudly noted that India’s sports landscape is witnessing a surge in talent, exemplified by Praggnanandhaa’s spirited challenge against reigning World Champion Magnus Carlsen in 2023. The Finance Minister underscored the significant growth in India’s chess community, with the country now boasting over 80 chess grandmasters compared to just over 20 in 2010.

Emphasizing the nation’s sense of pride in its sporting prowess, Nirmala Sitharaman pointed to the record-breaking medal hauls achieved by Indian athletes in the 2023 Asian Games and Asian Para Games. These achievements, coupled with the rise of talents like Praggnanandhaa, reflect India’s growing confidence and competence on the global sports stage. Praggnanandhaa’s recent victory over China’s Liren at the 2024 Tata Steel Chess Tournament further solidified his status as India’s top-ranked chess player, surpassing the legendary Viswanathan Anand.

Praggnanandhaa’s journey in chess is nothing short of extraordinary. Beginning his chess odyssey at the tender age of 5, he swiftly rose through the ranks to become India’s youngest Grandmaster at the age of 12 in 2018. His rapid ascent in the chess world has been accompanied by numerous accolades and milestones, including being the fifth-youngest person ever to achieve the title of Grandmaster. Notably, Praggnanandhaa shares this distinction with his elder sister R Vaishali, making them the world’s first-ever brother-sister Grandmaster duo.

Despite facing setbacks, such as his eventual loss in the 2023 FIDE World Cup, Praggnanandhaa’s resilience and remarkable talent have garnered widespread recognition and admiration. His impressive performance not only elevates his own standing in the global chess community but also serves as an inspiration to aspiring chess players across India and beyond. As India continues to foster and support its young sporting talents, individuals like Praggnanandhaa symbolize the nation’s potential to make significant strides in the world of sports.


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