Authored by: Anhad Chaudhry
As India continues to emerge as a dominating force in the international arena in both socio-political and economic terms, one field where it continues to lag behind is sports. From its initial domination in hockey for over 30 years, to winning merely two medals at the 2016 Olympic Games, India’s performance at
the Olympics seems to be hitting an all-time low. The reason for this cannot simply be attributed to one particular factor, like the lack of infrastructure, shortage of investment or the paucity of a talent pool. Rather, it is a culmination of factors deep rooted into the socio-political situation of the country. The purpose of this paper is to examine these socio-political reasons which influence sporting in India. The paper aims to do so by examining financial access to sports, for which the Khelo India Youth Games will be looked at in the context of the sport of shooting.
Khelo India was introduced in October 2017 under the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, with the vision to “revive the sports culture in India at the grass-root level by building a strong framework for all sports played in our country and to establish India as a great sporting nation,’’ as stated on its website (Khelo India n.d.). To achieve this, the programme identified 12 major verticals, including the promotion of community, coaching development, state-level Khelo India centres, upgradation of sporting infrastructure, the promotion of sports among women and people with disabilities, and talent identification, amongst other things (ibid).
To expand the scope of Khelo India, the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports received an increase of INR 214.2 Crore in the interim budget, presented in February 2019, and Khelo India specifically received INR 500.09 Crore in the 2018-2019 revised budget. Additionally, in 2018-19 a sum of INR 199.31 crore was
released to States and Union Territories for bridging gaps in sports infrastructure. Furthermore, in June 2019, the Government of India approved the construction of a National Sports Education Board, as a means to create awareness about sports on all levels. As per the Ministry, 99 academies have been given accreditation as training centers for Khelo India athletes, including academies under the Sports Authority of India, and public and private centers (PIB 2019).
A total of 2437 athletes across 20 sporting disciplines have been selected under the programmes talent search and development, and two editions of the Khelo India Games (KIG) have been held in 2018 and 2019, with the participation of 3507 and 5925 athletes, respectively (ibid). In 2018, the Khelo India School Games witnessed a total of 16 sports disciplines with students participating in the Under-17 Category. The Games have expanded since the inception of Khelo India
Youth Games with two categories, namely, Under 17 and 21, to broaden the scope of participation and include college students into the Programme as well.