Sports and games are not only intriguing themes and enjoyable pastimes that promote excellent health, but they are also topics of national and international concerns. Many countries have a national sport. For the longest time, it was thought that the national game of India was hockey. Well, this is not at all true. 

Then what is ‘bharat ka rashtriy khel’? Is it cricket or kabaddi? Boxing, tennis or wrestling? The answer is none of the above. India does not have a national sport declared by the government or the law.

While India has many national symbols like a national animal, national bird, national flower, and national fruit, the country does not have a game declared as ‘Bharat ka rashtriy khel’.

In this article, we will be discussing why there is no chosen national sport of India. We will also discuss the factors considered before a nation selects a game as their ‘Rashtriya Khel’. We will look at the incidences when people have approached the court or the government to find answers to hockey or other sports being India’s national game. 

Why Did Indians Believe Hockey To Be The National Sport Of India?

For many years, we have been under the impression that hockey is the national sport of India. It's crucial to comprehend why most Indians perceived hockey as their national play. Hockey is one of the oldest games, legalized in 1925. Indian Hockey Federation approved the sport. India has been one of the best teams globally in this sport. Be it Olympics or world cups, or any other tournaments, our team has done very well in almost every type of field hockey event. India's men's and women's hockey teams have demonstrated the country's sporting prowess to the rest of the world. The sport's success rate and popularity led people to believe that hockey was ‘Bharat ka rashtriy khel’. 

Take A Look At The Indian Hockey Team Achievements In The Olympics

As previously said, India's hockey team has achieved so much that the game of hockey is referred to as the 'bharat ka rashtriy khel.' This section has listed the Indian hockey team’s achievements in Olympics throughout the years. The team has won 12 medals in this sport and has also done admirably in previous years.

Venue/Olympics Name Year Achievements
Amsterdam Olympics 1928 Gold Medal
Los Angeles Olympics 1932 Gold Medal
Berlin Olympics 1936 Gold Medal
London Olympics 1948 Gold Medal
Helsinki Olympics 1952 Gold Medal
Melbourne Olympics 1956 Gold Medal
Rome Olympics 1960 Silver Medal
Tokyo Olympics 1964 Gold Medal
Mexico City Olympics 1968 Bronze Medal
Munich Olympics 1972 Bronze Medal
Montreal Olympics 1976 7th Position
Moscow Olympics 1980 Gold Medal
Los Angeles Olympics 1984 5th Position
Seoul Olympics 1988 5th Position
Barcelona Olympics 1992 6th Position
Atlanta Olympics 1996 8th Position
Sydney Olympics 2000 7th Position
Athens Olympics 2004 7th Position
Beijing Olympics 2008 Did Not Qualify
London Olympics 2012 12th Position
Rio Olympics 2016 8th position
Tokyo Olympics 2021 Bronze Medal

Why Cricket And Kabaddi Are Not The National Sport Of India?

Cricket only became popular in India in the 1980s, after hockey had already established itself. Our country's team won their first World Cup in 1983, bringing this sport to prominence. Because of its well-known players and current success rates, cricket has become a household name. Kabaddi is another sport where India has shown brilliant results as well. Kabaddi is immensely popular in various states in our country's northern regions, and its athletes have excelled in numerous sporting competitions. On the other hand, cricket and kabaddi are not India's national sports because they are not widely popular or accessible across the country.

So, Is Hockey The National Game Of India?

In 2012, a 10-year old girl Aishwarya filed an RTI directly to the PMO to know which sport was the national sport of India. This RTI query received a swift response, and it was clarified that the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports had not chosen and declared any game as the ‘bharat ka rashtriy khel’.  

hockey national game of india

Why Does India Not Have A National Game?

The ‘bharat ka rashtriy khel’ is not hockey, nor is it cricket or kabaddi. India does not have a national sport. A school teacher from the Dhule district of Maharashtra filed an RTI query to know when was hockey declared the national sport of India. In response to the same, the Union Ministry of Youth Affairs stated that there was no one sport selected as ‘Bharat ka rashtriy khel’ as the aim of the government is to encourage all sports. The objective is to promote every sports discipline and ensure that players from each sport get equal chances to do better and bring glory to the nation.  

Know What Happened When Naveen Patnaik Requested PM Modi To Declare Hockey As The National Game Of India

In 2018, the Chief Minister of Odisha, Naveen Patnaik, wrote to PM Modi to declare hockey as India’s national game. He mentioned that he was surprised knowing that hockey was not the national sport of our country. This appeal was made by him considering the upcoming World Cup that was to be held in the state. 

This instance shows us that not only common people but even our leaders believed hockey to be the national sport of India. This misconception is still very deep-rooted, and often, rumours also spread about this topic on social media and other messaging platforms. It is very typical to be deceived as India does celebrate a National Sports day in August but does not recognise any game or sport in particular. 

When The Supreme Court Of India Rejected The Plea To Recognize Hockey As The National Game Of India

Lawyer Vishal Tiwari filed a PIL to recognise hockey as India's ‘rashtriy khel’. Lawyer Vishal Tiwari asked the court, “If the country can have a national animal, why can’t it have its national game.”He also noted the prominence of cricket as a sport and advised officials to explore hockey because cricket and its popularity were overpowering. The court rejected this PIL, stating, “There should be a drive within people. Players like Mary Kom rise above all adversities. The court cannot do anything.”

Here’s Why It Is Difficult To Declare The National Game Of India

India is a large country with the world’s second-largest population. While one of its most attractive features, the country's diversity, is why selecting a national sport can be difficult. It is hard to pick a national sport or game because there are several factors to consider, and there are so many games and sports practised at various levels across the country.

India is a demographically diverse country with 28 states and 8 Union Territories. Games like cricket are popular in Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra. States like the seven sisters in the North-East, West Bengal and Goa excel in football. The northern states are doing well in wrestling, hockey and kabaddi. There are many other games popular in different parts of the country, and this is the primary reason it is so difficult to define what the national game of India is

On What Basis Can We Choose Bharat Ka Rashtriy Khel?

Bharat ka rashtriy khel is not very easy to choose and declare. There are so many factors that will have to be considered before making such a decision. In the previous section, we discussed how the diversity of our country in terms of culture and demographics influence the sports that are played in various regions. This is one of the major reasons why a national sport has been so challenging to decide upon. Even if a sport had to be chosen and declared the national sport of India, certain factors would influence this decision. The following elements must be considered before choosing a national play. 

  • The success rate of the national team in the sport can help decide the national sport of a country. 
  • Popularity: This factor is partially dependent on the success rate of the teams and the players, as games where the national teams do well are more likely to be popular among common people. 
  • Accessibility to the sport is a significant factor in our country. Sports that are easily accessible and do not need many resources are preferred more by the masses. 
  • Cultural influence: Culture also plays a role in influencing the more popular game. 

Understanding The Importance Of Having A National Game

There are many national symbols like a national flag, anthem, song, bird, animal, flower, fruit, and tree selected by countries worldwide. These symbols emphasise the heritage and identity of the nation. India does not have a national sport or game. That is right, no sport has been declared the Indian national game, and for the most extended period, people wrongly believed that hockey was the rashtriy khel of India. 

Why are national sports or games important for a country? 

A national sport is not just a game but an intrinsic part of the nation’s culture. National games are just another way to help people stay physically active. Having sports being declared the national sport also helps emphasise the relevance and importance of sports among the citizens of the country. Games specified as the national sport of a country change how the citizens of the country identify, interpret and indulge in the game. 

FACT: Field Hockey Is Not The National Game Of India But Of Pakistan

Hockey is a sport brought to India and Pakistan (then India) by the Britishers. The game gained extreme popularity in the sub-continent. Pakistan adopted hockey, often known as field hockey, as their national game in 1948. In this sport, Pakistan is the world champion. Pakistan Hockey Team is one of the best hockey teams in the world. In field hockey, the country has won four World Cups. The Pakistan Hockey Federation, which is the governing body for the sport in Pakistan, administers the Pakistan Men’s National Field Hockey Team.

national game of india


As we end this article on India's national sport, we hope you have gained a better understanding of national play, how national sports are chosen, and why hockey is not considered "Bharat ka rashtriy khel."


In this section, we will be answering some of the most commonly asked questions about the national game of India 2022.

Which is the official national game of India?

India does not have an officially recognised game as the Indian national sport.

Is cricket the national sport of India?

No, cricket is not India’s national game.

What is the first national game of India?

India does not have a ‘rashtriy khel’. The government or the Supreme Court has not declared any game as the national sport of India.

How many World Cups have been won by the Indian Hockey Team?

The Indian Hockey Men’s Team has won the Hockey World Cup once, and the Indian Hockey Team has won 12 Olympic medals. 

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