Success of players like P.V. Sindhu and Saina Nehwal on the world stage has given a big boost to the polarity of badminton in India. More and more players are taking up the game, and there are high hopes for the next crop of rising stars.
There has also been a corresponding increase in the number of courts and facilities, with some observers predicting that India could dominate the badminton world in the coming years.
However, before supporters of the sport get carried away, it is important that they do not get carried away. In terms of public and fan support, it is unlikely to ever supplant cricket in the natural affections.
Badminton also tends to be a middle class sport because of the costs involved. Professional badminton rackets can be pricey, and although the introduction of synthetic shuttles has brought the cost down, when paying for court time and perhaps professional coaching is thrown into the mix, then it is still inaccessible for many poorer families.
And, whilst the number and quality of courts and facilities is vastly improved on what it was, they are still inadequate for a country of India’s size.
And then there is the fact that, whilst India is getting better, other countries are not standing still either. Although the game at the top level is dominated still by Asia, countries like Netherlands, Denmark, Spain, and France are all starting to produce their own world class talent.
And then there is China, which used to be the powerhouse in the sport, but has declined in recent years. There are signs that they are responding to the challenge, with the number of players in schools and in specialised academy programmes growing. State sponsorship and support of sport means that Chinese athletes will always be better placed than their Indian counterparts to compete at the top level.
Nor are they the only Asian country that India needs to be looking at either. The game is strong in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam, and growing across the region. They will not be standing still in the years to come.
India cannot expect to become the dominant force in world badminton because of all these factors. However, if it can produce players that are serial contenders for major titles, that will be progress in itself.