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Elections 2019: What national parties said about sports in their manifestos

Elections 2019: What national parties said about sports in their manifestos

Press Releases

Published: 23 April 2019 5:26 AM GMT
Election manifestos, at best, are nothing more than poll promises which are often forgotten once the election is over. However, they play an important role because they often help highlight the thrust areas which outline a party’s ideology and policy-making. Examining manifestos of national parties to understand what they have to say about sports presented an interesting picture. Upholding ‘Khelo India’ as a flagship scheme for improving the sporting culture in the country, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in its manifesto promised to include sports courses in the educational curriculum, establish a National Sports Education Board, improve sporting infrastructure and promote the Fit India campaign.
The points in its manifesto pertaining to sports are:
  • We will map state and district-wise sporting talent and strengths, recognize the traditional sporting practices and focus on the promotion of specific sports in specific regions.
  • Our government has taken comprehensive steps to develop the culture of sports in the country through the 'KheloIndia' scheme, and we will continue to provide adequate resources under this scheme to ensure the achievement of declared objectives. Under this scheme, special attention will be given to encourage sporting talent among women and tribals.
  • In order to further promote sports, we will introduce practical sports courses as partof the educational curriculum and also establish a National Sports Education Board for the development of sportspersons.
  • We will support the creation of a mini-stadium in each sub-district, with the participation of state governments, to encourage sports and to make sporting infrastructure available in the rural areas.
  • We will formulate a mechanism to ensure that the capacity of existing sporting infrastructure is easily accessible for use of sportspersons and new models including PPP will be explored to ensure maintenance and management of such assets.
  • We will promote the Fit India campaign as an integral part of building a culture of sports in India and will consistently undertake necessary steps to encourage broader awareness and participation in the campaign.

The Congress manifesto says the party will respect the autonomy of the Indian Olympic Association and other apex sports bodies, make physical education a mandatory part of the school curriculum, upgrade sporting infrastructure and set up Centres of Sporting Excellence in different parts of the country. Its main points are:
  • Respect the autonomy of the Indian Olympic Association and the Apex Body of each sport. Government will work with each body to promote the sport concerned.
  • Take suitable measures to ensure that the Constitution of each sports body is in accordance with certain norms and principle… That there is adequate representation in each sports body for active players, former players and women.
  • Make physical education and sports an integral and mandatory part of the school curriculum and encourage higher education institutions to accord sports an important place.
  • Promise to allocate sufficient funds to create modern sports infrastructure in different parts of the country such as multi-sport stadium, athletic track, football field, astroturf, tennis, badminton, basketball and volleyball courts, gymnasium, swimming pool and velodrome…Entrust the maintenance and management of each facility to the Apex Body of that sport.
  • Allocate sufficient funds to train and produce coaches and other technical support personnel in each sport.
  • Promise to establish Centres of Sporting Excellence in different parts of the country in order to offer world-class training and coaching facilities to sportspersons who meet national or international standards of excellence.
  • Ensure that there is at least 1 community sports centre in the headquarters of each block and in municipal towns and at least 1 multi-sport coaching centre in every district headquarters.
  • Ensure that there is at least 1 Sports Counselling Centre in every district that will spread awareness about different sports and counsel and assist aspiring young sportspersons.
  • Allocate sufficient funds to promote sports among girls and women, persons with disabilities and disadvantaged groups such as Scheduled Tribes.

The CPI(M) manifesto mentions just two brief points on sports:
  • Provision of adequate number of child friendly playgrounds in each district so that they can play outdoor sports.
  • Set up Sports Missions sponsored by both central and state governments to promote sports activities and training facilities for youth.

Similarly, in the CPI manifesto, sports makes a chance occurrence as a part of a larger framework of promises of development for the youth.
  • Ensuring equal access to all sections of the youth in sports and games. Development of infrastructure for sports in educational institutes.

The Trinamool Congress manifesto refers to the National Centre of Excellence for football which is being developed at Rajarhat in Kolkata and renovation of the Barasat Stadium. It states:
  • Uttar Banga Utsab, ‘Jungle Mahal Cup’, Rangamati Sports Festival, Sunderban Cup and Cooch Behar Cup Sports Competition are being organised regularly.
  • Jalpaiguri’s ‘Biswa Bangla Krirangan’ is being redeveloped.
  • The Under-17 FIFA World Cup was successfully organised at the fully renovated ‘Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan’. Along with its quarter final, semi-final and final matches, 11 other international matches were organised here. This enabled the stadium to leave a mark in the history of sports.
  • The National Centre of Excellence for football is being developed at Rajarhat, in association with AIFF
  • Rs. 5 crores have been sanctioned for the renovation of the Barasat Stadium.
  • Jhargram Stadium and Jhargram Sports Academy have undergone a complete make-over.

Despite the objectives that were spelt out, the lack of focus on sports was apparent in most of the manifestos. For most of the parties, sports was a topic that was tucked away towards the end of the manifesto and did not even take up one full page of the document. More troubling was the fact that none of the parties could chalk out a clear roadmap of how to develop sports at the grassroots level. None of the manifestos address the more immediate problems of how most of our apex sporting bodies are suffering from problems of lack of funding and administrative autonomy. Behind every promise to build new centres or upgrade infrastructure lies the basic problem that has been glossed over — for year after year, sports has never been a focus area in the country’s national budget. The 2018-19 budget had allocated Rs 2196.36 crore to the Sports and Youth Ministry, registering a marginal increase of Rs 258.2 crore from the previous year. This was woefully inadequate given the fact that India was taking part in the Commonwealth Games and the Asian Games last year.
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