Greening of India ahead of World Military Games


New Delhi : A Greening of India campaign will be launched across the country on Sunday to mark the 100-day countdown for the World Military Games (WMG) in Hyderabad and Mumbai Oct 14-21.

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"We will conduct the campaign in 28 cities of the country. A request has gone out from the defence ministry to provide the saplings. We expect thousands of these to be planted all over the country," Indian Army vice chief Lt. Gen. Deepak Kapoor, who is also the working chairman of the WMG organising committee, said Thursday.

"With the monsoon having advanced to most parts of the country, this is the ideal weather to plant the saplings," Kapoor said at a select media interaction.

Defence Minister A.K. Antony will launch the campaign at Hyderabad.

The Greening of India campaign is one of the many initiatives the WMG organising committee is taking to popularise the fourth edition of the event, which is being held outside Europe for the first time and will see the participation of 4,500 sportspersons and 1,500 officials.

Others events include the unveiling of the Bravo dancing bison mascot last December and mass races in New Delhi and Chandigarh earlier this year at which the mascot featured prominently.

Seventy-eight countries have already confirmed their participation in the WMG and the number is likely to rise to 100 by Aug 15, the last date for sending entries, Kapoor said.

Pakistan is yet to confirm its participation at the Games while Bangladesh and Myanmar have expressed interest in attending as observers. This is because they are not members of the Brussels-based International Military Sports Council, known by its French acronym CISM, the umbrella body for the WMG.

Fifteen disciplines will feature at the WMG, being held under the banner of 'Friendship Through Sports'. These include traditional Olympics' events like athletics, swimming, shooting, hockey and sailing, plus events specific to the WMG – such as military pentathlon and parachuting.

Thirteen of these events will be held at Hyderabad at the facilities created for the Afro-Games in 2002 and which have now been upgraded. The yachting and triathlon events will be held in Mumbai.

The military pentathlon event will be seen in India for the first time. It will feature five elements: a two-km cross country run, a 30-metre swim, a 500-metre obstacle course, projectile throwing and rifle shooting over 200 metres.

With countries like China, Russia, Germany, Cuba and the US expected to field a large number of Olympics medal winners in their contingents, the Indian armed forces have pulled out all stops to ensure they do well at the Games.

"We have sent nine teams (in disciplines like military pentathlon, volleyball, shooting, football and triathlon) abroad for advanced training. This apart, intensive training is being conducted at various camps across the country," Kapoor said.

Asked how he expected the Indian teams to fare, Kapoor replied: "Look at it this way: armed forces personnel won 30 percent of the medals that came India's way at the (2006) Doha Asian Games. That should be indicative of the competition we will provide."

To this end, "the WMG is the perfect stepping stone to the Commonwealth Games (India will host in 2010)", Kapoor maintained.

The first WMG was conducted in Rome in 1995 to mark the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II. Subsequent events were held at Zagreb (Croatia) in 1999 and at Catania (Italy) in 2003.

India, which joined CISM in 1999, bid for the WMG in 2003 and was awarded the games the next year.

Given the new "jointmanship" doctrine of the Indian armed forces, WMG will see some unique synergy between the army, the navy and the air force as the hosts not only attempt to grab a major share of the medals on offer but also bid for a variety of trophies. These include the CISM Fair Play Trophy, as also the CISM Solidarity Trophy that is awarded to the nation that has demonstrated "exceptional solidarity" with one or more CISM member nations.