Calcutta Medical College, Lok Sabha members on Thursday raised the issue of limited spending on sports, missing infrastructure, and a lack of inclusivity during a discussion on promotion of sports. The members raised the issue of low medal tally of the country at international forums, including the Olympics, and said that there was a need to support talent from the villages.
“For the last five years, the total money which we have spent for the development of sports is just Rs 11,482.77 crore. We are a 3.5-trillion economy. What is the money being spent for the sports? It is a very negligible amount. This is the reason why we are not able to go up to the international standards,” said member from Kollam, N K Premchandran.
Not only did the members spoke of missing sports academies, stadiums, and equipment – including a complaint from BJP member from Northeast Delhi about a wrestling mat for which he waited for 2.5 years – they said that most of the facilities were concentrated in urban India, leaving those from rural India without access to it.
Congress member from Idduki (Kerala) Dean Kuriakose said, “All the sport academies are concentrated in townships. Mega events and sports stadiums may be there in the townships, and it is a welcome step. But the practicing academies should be concentrated in villages. Then only, we would get the advantage of more and more sportspersons.”
The members also spoke of inclusivity in sports in terms of economic means as well as social class of the people. DMK member from Thoothukuddi, Kanimozhi Karunanidhi, said, “In a village, where people cannot touch each other, where people cannot walk in the same street, how will these children be allowed to play in teams? How will you ensure that these people get justice? I am not saying that you will have to bring in reservation in sports also. But at least you must do something to protect these people to ensure them the justice particularly to children and women.”
She also raised the issue of trans-sportsperson who currently have no space to compete.
While most spoke of access, Congress member from Sivaganga (Tamil Nadu) Karti Chidambaram said making sports mandatory in schools was the only answer. He said, “Until you make it [sports] compulsory in this country, no mother will send their daughters to play.” He said all schools must have sports ground and a sports teacher.
Many members also invited CSR funding and Public Private Partnership in Indian sports, with DMK member S Gnanathiraviam adding that it must be recognised as an industry with a great earning potential. He said, “We need to create sectors like SEZ for sport-specific companies which will aid the growth of the sports sector. A Public-Private Partnership model works best for building sports infrastructure.”