Olympics Begin In
Begin typing your search above and press return to search.


Sports Budget 2021: Esports to youth programs, what can we expect?

Sports Budget 2021: Esports to youth programs, what can we expect?

Md Imtiaz

Published: 31 Jan 2021 7:35 AM GMT

The 2021 Union Budget 2021 will be presented tomorrow by the Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. She will have a daunting task of boosting the Indian economy as it slowly recovers from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and ensuing lockdowns and she has promised a budget unlike anything seen before.

What is seldom spoken about budget allocation is how much will it be generated for the development of Indian sports, which is directed to the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports (MYAS).

Over the last few years, we have witnessed Indian budget allocation to sports have jumped manifold, with an impetus to Khelo India Games. The allocation for the country’s flagship sports program was Rs 890.92 crore in 2020. Budget allocations for other authorities, such as the Sports Authority of India (SAI), and the (assistance to) National Sports Federations (NSFs) was up marginally, but not as exponential as Khelo India's. The government also reduced the allocation to Sports Authority of India (SAI) from the revised Rs 615 crore in 2019-20 to Rs 500 crore in 2020-21. The SAI is the nodal organisation to manage nationals camps, provide infrastructure, equipment and other logistics to the country’s sportspersons.

The highest reduction was for National Sports Federations with Rs 245.00 crore being allocated, Rs 55 crore less than the revised Rs 300.85 for 2019-20.

As the new budget is just around the corner, the government of India may look to increase spending on sports, more specifically ‘youth sports’. It can be the key to improve outcomes in health, education, and overall development of children and youth in the country, following a year that was heavily hit by the coronavirus.

Increasing the budget on youth sports can facilitate better cognitive development among youth, having a positive impact on academics. Community-driven sporting interventions can goa a long way as preventive health programs as part of their expenditure from public health budgets.

The youth of India still faces a lack of access to play areas. Although this is a goal of ‘Khelo India’ and ‘Fit India’ programs, other innovative solutions can be proposed. One solution is to use existing infrastructure present in schools and other educational institutions.

Sport is also a great tool to address the gender inequality problems. Measures need to be taken that incentivize more girls to participate in sport. An employment guarantee in the form of Physical Education trainer/coaching jobs can be given to girls who pursue sport as a professional career. This will drive more and more girls to pursue sport while still having the safety net of a job.

We expect more funds will be allocated to SAI and NSFs of the country as it would be required, particularly keeping Olympics 2021 in mind.

The year 2020 has seen a tremendous surge in the gaming sector. Due to covid 19 outburst, lockdown, and halt in fresh content production for TV, theatres and OTT lead to unexpected growth in the gaming sector as people were consuming more gaming content while at home. The growth has come to the notice of the government too and PM Narendra Modi also aims to push the industry to create more homegrown gaming and toys highlighting the Indian mythology, Indian culture, and so on.

The gaming market in India is also growing rapidly and if incentivised, can lead to new generation job creation. Furthermore, as India’s smartphone penetration and broadband connectivity develops, we are also likely to see the budget focus on aspects around strengthening our digital infrastructure. The government should remove the regulation in place that forbids any esports from charging any kind of fee, be it for participation or event entry. One of the most important reforms would be the tax exemption on the prize pools. No matter how big the prize pool is, the organisations charge 30-40 percent cut after a 30 per cent tax deduction from the total winning prize. That can sometimes be a demotivator for a professional esports athlete. It is highly unlikely to get promoted and recognised without the backing of a strong organisation; hence professional players refrain from going independent. The government can encourage and back homegrown game developers and startups and it will become a great opportunity to promote Make in India brand globally in the esports and gaming sector.

Also read: FAU-G — Honest Review: A let-down for all combat game lovers

Next Story