We are a country with more than 130 crore population so naturally, the expectation from the sports fraternity is very high. Every Indian in Tokyo Olympics and Para Olympics has cheered the performance of our athletes wholeheartedly. Though the medal tally is just seven in the Olympics however it is the best performance to date and the performance by our Para athletes is exceptional. We had performed badly in the past owing to many reasons. However, we are far behind China, the USA, Japan and other countries and though, the outlook and actions towards sports other than cricket have been changed in the recent past. Though still a lot to be done, nevertheless, central government and sports authorities have set the rhythm to make it more effective qualitatively and quantitatively in the coming years.
The efforts are taken by the sports ministry in the last seven years;
A few quotes from PM Modi that clearly shows the intent of the government towards sports in the country :
“The image of a country is not just about economic and military strength. The soft face of a country also makes a difference. Sports are one such soft power which can capture the world's attention to India”.
“If sports do not hold significance in our life, we cannot nurture sportsman spirit as a "Sanskar" in our society and without such "Sanskars", the society cannot flourish!”
“Sports must become an indispensable and inseparable part of our social life. Competitiveness is just a by-product”.
The Khelo India Scheme was commenced in 2016 post the union of three earlier schemes. This scheme was engrossed in increasing mass partaking of youth in annual sports games and competitions. Khelo India (National Program for Development of Sports Scheme) targets to accomplish twin goals of mass participation and progression of enormity in sports. The plan endeavours to advance “Sports for All” as well as “Sports for Excellence”.
Khelo India especially a revamped version is truly a game-changer for Indian sports. With twelve verticals aimed at various target groups like women, children and rural areas, it aims to address all sections of society and make them part of India’s sports culture.
The plan was overhauled in the year 2017 with an objective to mainstream sports as an instrument for individual and local area growth, monetary development, and national development.
Target Olympic Podium Scheme
The Sports Ministry released the ‘Target Olympic Podium (TOP)’ Scheme in May 2015 under the National Sports Development Fund (NSDF) to help the potential medal possibilities for the Olympic Games of 2016, 2020 and now 2024. The focus is set to Athletics, Badminton, Boxing, Archery, Wrestling, and Shooting sports. Target Olympic Podium is chaired by Abhinav Bindra, which is 10 member panel that includes Prakash Padukone(Badminton), PT Usha(Athletics).
Its aim is to identify potential medal winners in the 2020 & 2024 Olympics.
These athletes will receive training and a scholarship of five lakh rupees per year for 8 years. Moreover, this program itself will add 1000 new athletes annually, for 8 years. Thus, this program envisions that at the end of 15 years, we will have a large number of champion athletes ready in every focus sport.
Moreover, by providing young athletes with scholarships, government seeks to address the question of financial stability for them. They seek to make sports a viable career option. Financial stability was one of the main concerns for a majority of athletes, schools and parents, so the involvement was very less even though many students had the necessary talent, skill and passion. We had seen in the past how a national or international player used to face life after sports so this government’s initiative to strengthen financially is a welcome and much-needed step. In this regard, the Government has enhanced support for TOPS athletes, anyone wanting to choose sports as a career in India. The government wanted to ensure that this does not undermine or affect athletes’ performance in any way. This is why the government decided to make our star athletes covered under TOPS eligible for 50,000 rupees per month as an out-of-pocket expenditure. It’s a small but momentous step towards making sports financially viable as a career. This sum, by the way, is in addition to the dietary and other allowances our athletes already receive.
Sports Talent Search Portal
Vice President M.Venkaiah Naidu in August 2017 propelled the Sports Talent Search Portal to identify the best talent among the youth of India. The portal allows youngsters to upload their accomplishments. Those who get shortlisted are then called for trials and the qualified candidates then take part in the schemes of the Sports Authority of India (SAI).
On the occasion of International Women Day in 2017, the Union Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports comprised a committee under the chairmanship of AS and FA to address and solve the complaints and grievances of women sportsperson. This has given a big boost to women athletes to perform better.
National Sports Awards Scheme
Consistently, the Government acknowledges and respects sports personalities with the Arjuna Awards, Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna Awards, and Dronacharya Awards for their triumphs and pledges as sportspersons and coaches in the field of sports.
Sports and Games for Persons with Disabilities Scheme
Under this plan, the differently-abled sportspersons are trained in their field for conducting sports competitions and assisting schools and institutes having differently-abled sportspersons. The focus led to a great show by our Para athletes in Tokyo.
PM Modi and his government have done its fair share to promote and encourage sports in India. PM Modi himself is an embodiment of fitness and somebody who leads by example and suggests fellow citizens to adopt a healthy lifestyle. There is no debate on what more could have been done on the government’s part to encourage maximum participation of citizens in sports.
National scheme for development of sports to conduct national level games in U-14 & U-17 category.
It comprises of promotion of Indigenous sports like Kabaddi, Kho-Kho, Kalariayapattu under Indigenous Games and Martial Arts (IGMA).
This scheme provides development Synthetic Athletic track, Hockey Field, Swimming pool, Hall.
Mission Eleven Million (MXIM).
Oorja: U-19 Football talent hunt initiated by CAPF(Central Armed Police Force) and Assam Rifles.
National Sports Talent Contest Scheme (NSTC)
Army Boys Sports Company (ABSC)
SAI Training Centre (STC)
Special Area Games (SAG)
Extension Centre of STC/SAG
Centre of Excellence (CoE)
National Sports Academies (NSA)
Above are Initiatives by SAI (Sports Authority of India), to identify prominent sports persons in the age group of 8–25 in different sports.
Long-term athlete development program:
The trick to create champions is to catch the talent young. This is exactly what government’s long-term athlete development program aims to do.
Under this program, experts select, through Khelo India school games and various other nation championships happening around the year, 1000 budding young athletes every year.
The discrimination between cricket and other sports is clearly visible; this has also put down the confidence of athletes. Now, when the PM of a country is cheering for every sport and athlete, personally monitoring, motivating, helping, informing the achievement of an athlete or a team through social media platform, then whole India started cheering for the athletes that made the big difference.
Everyone knows the case of Weight-lifter Mirabai Chanu, how PM and team helped her to get treatment in USA. Crores of rupees spent on athletes though it is less compared to China however, we will see big change in future world championships and Olympics with ongoing incremental efforts.
National Sports University:
One bigger step towards sports and athlete development plan, the only sports university built in Imphal, Manipur with four schools and thirteen departments:
School of Sports Science and Sports Medicine
School of Sports Management and Technology
School of Sports Education
School of Interdisciplinary Studies
Largely every aspect of a complete 360º sports ecosystem. The university has already started offering courses, and we will be offering those courses through pilot centers running across the country.
Sports organisations like the Indian Olympic Association and Sports Authority of India under Modi’s government are working towards raising the standard of Indian sports through various talent promotion programs.
Indians now unquestionably believe in the supremacy of sports. Cricket is no longer the only cradle of glory of Indians. They can now engross with other sports too.