Gujarat receives twice as much as all southern states under 'Khelo India'

So what if Gujarat is allocated Rs 608.37 Cr? The allocations make more political sense than sporting sense. Both the BJP-ruled states of Gujarat and UP are crucial for BJP in the next Lok Sabha polls

Glimpses from Khelo India University Games 2021, Bengaluru (Photos: MoYAS)
Glimpses from Khelo India University Games 2021, Bengaluru (Photos: MoYAS)

Shalini Sahay

The outrage is most pronounced in Tamil Nadu. The southern state, which hosted a successful chess Olympiad at short notice this month, is aghast at receiving a paltry Rs 33 crore under the ‘Khelo India’ scheme. It is upset because the two BJP-ruled states of Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh were recipients of disproportionately higher grants of Rs 608 crore and Rs 503 crore respectively.

There are no explanations about the basis on which the allocations were made. If a committee of experts made a recommendation, it has not been revealed.

The Khelo India scheme was launched in 2017 to ‘revive’ sports culture in the country by way of helping the states build and upgrade sports facilities, appoint coaches and nurture talent. The scheme facilitates hosting of school games, university games, rural sports and sports for the handicapped.

Could the considerations for the allocations be other than sporting? The allocations make more political sense than sporting sense. Both the BJP-ruled states of Gujarat and UP are crucial for the BJP in the next general election.

Grants, scholarships and appointment of athletes and coaches in rural areas among the youth ahead of elections is undoubtedly helpful. This suspicion is bolstered by the grants given to Karnataka and Rajasthan, two other states where elections are due next year. On top of that, a crucial assembly election is due in Gujarat within months

Funds sanctioned under Khelo India

So, when the Union Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports informed Parliament on August 2 the state-wise break-up of funds allocated under its flagship scheme, nobody batted an eyelid. The mainstream media also reacted with indifference.

So what if Gujarat has been allocated a whopping Rs 608.37 crore under the scheme, double the amount allocated to all the southern states together? So, what if the allocations to 10 states together, namely Jharkhand, Odisha, Meghalaya, Jammu and Kashmir, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Sikkim, Goa and Uttarakhand, were just about half of what was disbursed to Gujarat alone?

There is some disbelief in sports circles because Gujarat is not yet known as a sporting powerhouse, though it does boast of the world’s largest cricket stadium at Motera. It has also a long history of producing prominent cricketers, patronised by Maharajahs earlier. Cricketers from Gujarat like Irfan and Yusuf Pathan, Hardik Pandya, Jaspreet Bumrah, Parthiv Patel, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ravindra Jadeja and Jaydev Unadkat are household names and have represented the country with distinction.

But beyond cricket and to a more limited extent badminton (Ami Ghia), table tennis (Harmeet Desai), tennis (Ankita Raina) and swimming (Maana Patel), the state has produced few athletes. While Govindrao Sawant from the state represented India in hockey in the Rome Olympic Games in 1960, it was not till the Tokyo Olympic Games in 2021 that the state was represented in the Indian contingent. Six women athletes, three in the Olympic Games and three more in the Paralympic Games, from Gujarat represented India in Tokyo.

Even Harmeet Desai from Surat, who helped India retain the team gold at Birmingham CWG this month, moved to Germany in 2018, enrolled at the TTF Academy in Ochsenhausen to train under coach Fu Yong.

hotos: MoYAS

With Gujarat and UP cornering Rs 1,100 crore under the scheme, there was outrage at information that Tamil Nadu, was allocated just Rs 33 crore. Arunachal Pradesh received a grant of Rs 183 crore, a lot higher than Jharkhand (Rs 10.38 cr), Goa (Rs 19.10 cr), Odisha (Rs 28 cr), Uttarakhand (Rs 23.78 cr) and Kerala (Rs 62.74 cr), all of which boast of rich sporting traditions and talent. In fact, Arunachal received higher grants than Maharashtra (Rs 110.08 cr), Karnataka (Rs 128.52 cr) and Rajasthan (Rs 112.26 cr). Curiously, not a single athlete from Arunachal made it to the Indian contingent for the CWG in Birmingham.

Haryana sent the highest number of contestants to CWG 2022, with 39 athletes, followed by Punjab with 26, Tamil Nadu 17, Delhi and Maharashtra with 14 athletes each. But Haryana, Punjab and Delhi received allocations of Rs 88.89 crore, Rs 93.71 crore and Rs 89.36 crore respectively. While Gujarat sent five athletes, UP sent 12 sportspersons.

In its 2019 report, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on HRD noted that only 13 states had been given grants under Khelo India scheme and states including Bihar, Jharkhand, and Odisha did not receive any grant.

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Published: 21 Aug 2022, 6:00 PM