[ M Doley ]
The sports policy of the state has finally been notified. The vision is to make Arunachal Pradesh a vibrant and leading state in the sports arena, and to fulfill the basic infrastructure needs for development of sports by 2030.
But will this policy be able to change the face of sports in Arunachal? It has been framed to address almost all the issues concerning the development of sports in the state. The policy puts emphasis on the importance of sports in all educational institutions, and seeks to make sports and physical education an integral part of the school curricula up to the higher secondary level.
To encourage sportspersons, the policy offers lucrative incentives/cash awards for the achievers in various levels of competitions, right from the district level to the Olympics.
While an Olympic gold medallist will get Rs 3 crore, mere participation in the world’s top sports event will fetch a sportsperson Rs 40 lakh.
Interestingly, the South Asian Games and the Afro-Asian Games have been given priority over the Asian Games in terms of incentives/cash awards offered. As per the policy, a South Asian Games gold medallist will receive Rs 2 crore, compared to a winner in the Asian Games, who will be given Rs 1 crore.
The Asian Games is participated in by sports superpowers like China, Japan, South Korea, etc, whereas countries like Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Maldives participate in the South Asian Games, apart from India.
Likewise, there is total injustice for world champions, who have been offered a meager Rs 5 lakh for winning a gold medal at the senior level.
The standards of world cups/world championships in various disciplines are almost equivalent to those of the Olympics. In some cases, performances by athletes and records created in the events are superior to those in the Olympics. Hence, the incentives and cash awards for the world champion(s) should have been higher.
Coaches were always overlooked and never given incentives for their contributions. From now onwards, coaches will get 10 percent of the total cash awards received by the athlete/team coached by him/her. This will definitely motivate and encourage the coaches to devote their full time.
The government has also decided to offer pension to distressed sportspersons. But this pension is for only those sportspersons who will win medals at the Olympics, the Asian Games, the Commonwealth Games, and official world championships/world cups. Practically, this pension scheme is not going to benefit the players of the state immediately.
Under the sports policy, the state government commits itself to provide financial and other support to the talented and promising sportspersons to help them pursue their goal of winning medals at recognized national and international competitions. It gives special emphasis on identifying disciplines that are most popular in certain areas or regions due to geographical and cultural reasons, including indigenous sports/games.
Some of the indigenous sports identified for promotion and inclusion in the state games are bobo/babo-beni (bamboo skill exercise], tug-of-war on all fours, niramin sudo [stick wrestling], and traditional archery.
All the identified sports disciplines have been divided into four categories – Olympic, non-Olympic, indigenous & traditional, and adventure sports, including mountaineering.
Though karate is an Olympic sport of Tokyo 2020, it has not been placed in Category A or Olympic sports in the policy.
Plenty of major mistakes can be seen in the printed version of the policy book, especially in the amounts of incentives/cash awards, which may mislead the readers, and which needs immediate correction.
It will confuse the readers to see the awarding of the same amounts of incentives/awards of Rs 3 crore to the Olympic gold, silver and bronze medallists in the printed copy of the policy book. The correct figure is Rs 3 crore for a gold, Rs 2 crore for a silver and Rs 1 crore for a bronze medal. There should not have been such silly mistakes in the policy book, which took almost seven years to see the light of day.
Similar mistakes and omissions of clauses can also be seen in some of the other pages of the policy book.
Since the ultimate goal of the policy is to produce world-class athletes/sportspersons, the government must implement these policies in letter and spirit to see results. An Olympian definitely deserves to be rewarded handsomely. But to produce an Olympian, the government must strengthen the necessary infrastructure first.
[ M Doley ]