National Chronicle
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Khelo India centres in states and districts will realise the dream of PM Modi

Rakesh Thapliyal
By Rakesh Thapliyal

In our country, Sports is a State subject and over three decades we have seen interesting tussle between Centre and state over the issue of ‘Sports should be included in Concurrent list or not.’ Most of the Ministers for Youth Affairs & Sports have pressed for bringing Sports in Concurrent list but State governments were least interested to accept this.

Rakesh Thapliyal
Rakesh Thapliyal, Senior Sports Journalist and Consultant Editor at National Chronicle

A few years back then Minister for Youth Affairs & Sports Vijay Goel had started a campaign to include ‘Sports in concurrent list’ but all his efforts were of no use, despite the fact that the ruling party BJP was in power in most of the states, and this fact was the biggest booster for Goel’s wish, but he did not get success because there were not many States who wanted to lose their power and control over sports.

A few years back during a lunch with the Sports Editors of different News Papers at Delhi’s India International Centre I have told Mr.Vijay Goel that “Don’t push for this idea, because in the past we have seen many Sports Ministers, who pushed for this, ultimately lost their post as Sports Minister.” But Goel did not find my suggestion good enough and continued his campaign and ultimately, as it had happened in the past, Goel had to vacate the post of Sports Minister.

I have met only one Chief Minister, that too from Congress, Bhupender Hooda of Haryana, who agreed to the formula of bringing ‘Sports in Concurrent’ list for the betterment of sports in the country. It was a great gesture by a sports-loving politician, who has given big incentives and Cash Awards to the players of Haryana who have won medals or performed well in Olympic, Asian Games and Commonwealth Games etc. After Vijay Goel, when Athens Olympic Silver medal winner shooter Col. Rajayavardhan Singh Rathore became the new Sports Minister, he dropped the idea of bringing ‘Sports in Concurrent’ list.

During an interview at his residence, I asked Col. Rathore that, we have seen in previous Governments that many Sports Ministers have demanded that sports be brought to the Concurrent list, but you have not done that, Why? The first real Sportsmen Minister for Youth Affairs and Sports said, “I am bothered about the results. We continue to give results. My Prime Minister has complete faith in me and my team. With the fact that I am getting that support, we will deliver results. All these Constitutional things — of sports being in the Concurrent List or State list – are just for the knowledge of our citizens and journalists. Nothing stops us from achieving our goals.”

In Modi Govt. 2.0 Col. Rathore was replaced by his good friend and great sports lover Kiren Rijiju as Minister for Youth Affairs and Sports and he also did not show any intention to push for bringing ‘Sports in the concurrent list’ instead he exchanged ideas with all states to ensure that there is one collaborative roadmap towards making India a sporting superpower.

In an online meeting recently, Rijiju briefed the State Sports Ministers and their representatives about the ‘One State One Sport’ policy. The setting up of one Khelo India State Centre of Excellence (KISCE) in each state and setting up of 1000 Khelo India Centres in all districts across the country.

I remember that when Narendra Modi became Prime Minister for the first time he had suggested that he wanted to make sure that one athlete should qualify for the Olympic Games from each district of the country. Khelo India State Centre of Excellence in each States & Union Territories and 1000 Khelo India Centres in all districts will be of great help in realising his dreams.

The ministers and officials showed keen interest in adopting one sport in which the state has traditionally been strong. The setting up of one Khelo India State Centre of Excellence (KISCE) in each state and following the ‘One State One Sport’ policy found favour with the states.

In the meeting, Rijiju has assured that “Our ministry will assist and fund the States in the endeavour to achieve excellence in one or two sport. The KISCEs will become the nodal centre for a particular sport where athletes can be groomed at world-class facilities for the Olympics. States can also choose to train athletes in other sports, including traditional sports, but the focus should be on one or two disciplines.”

The state representatives said that setting up 1000 Khelo India Centres in all districts across the country will help to not just tap local talent, but also create a culture of sport in the country.

Rijiju has stressed in a statement that “Strengthening of the sports ecosystem at the grassroots level is crucial if we want to realise the dream of making India one of the top 10 countries at the Olympic podium in 2028, and we must start that process now. The Sports Ministry has already decided to set up Khelo India State Center of Excellence (KISCE) in all states and UTs. 1000 Khelo India Centers (KIC) at the district level (will come up) to enable local talent to be identified and trained in 14 identified Olympic sport and traditional sports. Both the KISCEs and KICs will strengthen the grassroots-level sports ecosystem in India in a big way, and states have a big role to play in it. Also, the ‘One State One Sport’ policy that the government has made needs to be discussed and implemented early.”

State sports ministers also briefed Rijiju on the roadmap for post-Covid-19 resumption. In the end, the most important thing is that Rijiju has said the centre and states will work together in India’s fight against Covid-19 and given free hand to states & UTs to independently decide when they can start sports activities and training.

However, he urged all states to start some kind of sporting activities only after two or three months, depending on the situation. This suggestion by the Sports Minister is in line with the Home Ministry’s guidelines.

In our country, the situation of Covid-19 pandemic is getting worse and States and UTs know the situation in their area very well and they will be in a better position to decide when and how to start the training and competition of different sports. Till then take care.

(Rakesh Thapliyal is a senior sports journalist and Consultant Editor with National Chronicle)

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