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Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman lauds chess star Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa during Union Budget 2024 speech

Published at :February 01, 2024 at 03:47 PM
Modified at :February 01, 2024 at 03:55 PM
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(Courtesy : AP/X)

Ajay Gandhar

Pragnannandha surpassed Vishwanathan Anand to become India’s top chess players in live rankings

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Thursday hailed the achievements of Indian chess players, especially Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa, in her Interim Budget speech for 2024-25. She also said India was making remarkable progress in sports and culture, and highlighted the country’s record medal haul in the Asian Games and Asian Para Games in 2023.

Sitharaman, who presented her sixth budget in the Lok Sabha, mentioned Praggnanandhaa as an example of India’s chess prowess. She said the 18-year-old from Chennai, who briefly became India’s new No. 1 ranked player, gave a tough challenge to the reigning world champion Magnus Carlsen of Norway in the Chess World Cup final in 2023.

“Chess prodigy and our No. 1 ranked player Praggnanandhaa put up a stiff fight against world champion Magnus Carlsen in 2023. Today, India has over 80 chess grandmasters compared to little over 20 in 2010,” Sitharaman said.

Praggnanandhaa, who became the fourth youngest grandmaster in history at the age of 12 years and 10 months in 2018, reached the summit clash of the FIDE World Cup that was held in Azerbaijan’s Baku in August 2023. He defeated several higher-rated opponents, including World No 2 Hikaru Nakamura and World No 3 Fabiano Caruana en route to the final.

However, he lost to Carlsen in the finals. Praggnanandhaa earned a silver medal and a spot in the Candidates Tournament, becoming only the second Indian to do so after Viswanathan Anand.

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Sitharaman also praised the Indian athletes who participated in the Asian Games and Asian Para Games in 2023, which were held in China. She said India achieved its highest-ever medal tally in both events, surpassing the previous records.

“The country received its highest-ever medal tally in the Asian Games and the Asian Para Games in 2023. India won 28 gold, 38 silver, and 41 bronze medals in the Asian Games, and 29 gold, 31 silver, and 51 bronze medals in the Asian Para Games,” Sitharaman said.

She added that India was also excelling in other fields of culture, such as music, literature, cinema and art. She said the government was committed to supporting and promoting the talent and creativity of the country’s youth.   

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