Sports gets infrastructure status

Knapps

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06, Oct 2016

India’s Ministry of Finance last month approved a proposal by the Sports Ministry for the inclusion of sports in the master list of infrastructure sub-sectors. This approval will ease the flow of investments and incentives to the sports sector, and help address the deficit of sports infrastructure in the country. Knappily delves into the chief concerns ailing sports in India as the government takes steps towards building a sporting culture.

What does the decision entail?

The Union Finance Ministry has decided that sports infrastructure will be included under the harmonised master list of infrastructure sub-sectors.

  • Earlier, the Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports Affairs had moved the proposal for inclusion of sports in the list to address the issue of deficit of sports infrastructure in the country.
  • The Ministry of Finance, after a series of meetings and discussions with different agencies, including the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) have decided that sports infrastructure will be entitled to investment that can come to the designate infrastructure sub-sectors of India (and with the same benefits). This includes the provision of Sports Stadia and Infrastructure for Academies for Training/Research in Sports and Sports-related activities.
  • This inclusion would encourage private investment in the field that has socio-economic implications in a country with young population.
  • It will also bolster investment in the sports infrastructure sector, thereby contributing to the economy, promoting health and fitness, and providing opportunities for employment in a new sector.
  • Investment by the private sector will widen the platform for the country to become a future sporting power.

Why is this an important decision?

This ‘industry’ status to sports infrastructure will help scale up the availability and accessibility of sporting facilities in the country.

  • With this, sports sector becomes eligible for obtaining long term financial support from banks and other financial institutions on same principle available to other infrastructure projects.
  • It will enable corporates to avail concessional finance for the creation of sports infrastructure that are of international standards.
  • This will bolster investment in sports infrastructure which will in turn contribute to the economy, and help in promotion of health and fitness of people (which will again have a positive cascading effect on the economy).
  • It will also provide employment opportunities in the sector.
  • The ultimate aim, however, is to use the investment from private sector in India’s bid to become a sporting power in the future.

When were efforts directed towards this before?

The government has been highlighting the need for bringing about reforms in management and governance of sports in order to make it more responsive, responsible and result oriented for some time now.

  • On August 30, 2011, a draft bill was formulated and placed before the Cabinet which decided that for facilitating better management of sports in the country, the Bill be recast.
  • On October 14, 2011, the Government, after revising the Draft Bill, put it in the public domain and also sent the same to National Sports Federations seeking their comments/suggestions.
  • It was still felt that the original draft of the Sports Bill be revised. Hence, the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports (MYAS) constituted a Working Group under the Chairmanship of Justice (Retd.) Mukul Mudgal to prepare a revised draft of the National Sports Development Bill.
  • The Working Group included eminent sportsmen including Abhinav Bindra and Viren Rasquinha, sports administrators and legal experts. They held several meetings and deliberated upon the various aspects associated with the matter and came out with a revised draft. The same was presented to the Minister of State (Independent Charge) Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports on July 10, 2013, by the Chairman of the Working Group, Justice Mukul Mudgal (Retd.).

The draft bill highlights the following:

  • Duties be imposed on the National Olympic Committee including performing functions according to the Olympic Charter, responsibility for bidding for international multi-sport events, in-house mechanism to address grievances, conduct National games at regular intervals, constitute Athletes Commission and function as a public authority under the RTI Act and submit reports to the Parliament;
  • An Appellate Sports Tribunal is proposed to be established with the selection committee consisting of the Chief Justice of India or his/her nominee judge, Secretary, Department of Sports and President, National Olympic Committee.
  • An Ethics Commission has been proposed which shall enforce a Code of Ethics which shall be in accordance with the International Olympic Committee’s code and principles, enshrined in the Constitution of India;
  • A Sports Election Commission has been proposed to conduct free and fair elections to the National Olympic Committee, National Sport Federations and the Athletes Commission;
  • A two-fold system for functioning of National Sport Federations should be introduced i.e. recognition and accreditation of the National Sport Federations;
  • Recognition of a National Sport Federation should be dependent upon recognition from the International Federation and/or the National Olympic Committee.

The NITI Aayog has recently recommended implementation of the National Sports Development Bill.

Where is India lagging?

  • As India is in the midst of an economic transformation, its demands are changing. The growing population and the rising middle class entail opportunities that are huge, but so too are the challenges.
  • In countries where there is a good sporting culture, aspiring sportsmen tend to pursue sport as a career choice and even have the option to deemphasize education for a few years as the government policies allow them to do so.
  • The backbone for developing a robust sports culture in India is developing infrastructure that is at par with the best in the world. This will help in inculcating a culture of sports which is a very important stepping stone for establishing sports as a flourishing business.
  • Parents in India have their reservations against allowing their children to pursue sports as it doesn’t guarantee a livelihood.
  • While the rich can afford good facilities to train, the naturally talented but economically disadvantaged ones are handicapped by the lack of sporting infrastructure and good coaches.

But India is beginning to recognize the central role that sports plays in this regard. Rio 2016 was an eye-opener, and the government has resolved to set things straight now.

Who are known for their sporting culture?

Countries that have a great sporting culture have committed themselves to building world class stadiums and training facilities over the years. Here are the countries that India could look up to:

United States of America

  • Sports are ingrained within American culture, partially due to the longevity of organised sport in the country. Baseball’s National League was founded in 1876, the oldest professional sports league in the world. The US is also dominant in American football and baseball, golf, and athletics. They were No.1 in the medal table of both Rio and London Olympics.

Germany

  • Germany’s hegemony over Equestrian sport is undisputed. They are the 2014 FIFA World cup winners and ranked No.1 in the sport. They produce some of the best F1 racers and are strong in a number of other major sports, including tennis, Ice Hockey and Athletics.

United Kingdom

  • Team Great Britain made history by moving ahead of China into second place in the Rio 2016 medals table. The UK have World No.2 F1 racer and one of the best golfers in Rory McIlroy. They also excel in a variety of sports including cycling, cricket and rugby.

Spain

  • The 1984 Olympics played an important role in reviving sports in Spain. Spain has one of the best football and basketball teams. They also have several Tour de France winners, and individual champions in tennis’ Rafael Nadal and Moto GP’s Marquez.

How can India step up?

  • At every Olympic Games, China and Russia walk away with multiple gold medals. For fans in India—one of the world's most populous nations and fastest growing economies—the event is an exercise in despair.
  • India has managed just one gold medal since 1980, when shooter Abhinav Bindra became the first individual to win gold for his country at the 10 meter air rifle event in 2008. The country's previous gold medals, eight between 1928 and 1980, were all in field hockey.
  • Hopes were high running into the Rio Olympics after the country snagged six medals in London in 2012 and sent its largest ever contingent to this year's event. The shallow medals haul has, therefore, sparked debate about the possible reasons.
  • Poverty alone cannot be the reason for poor performance since other countries with low levels of per-capita income, such as Kenya and Jamaica, consistently fare better.
  • Lack of investments in sports is further compounded by misallocation, lack of transparency, poor asset management and an absence of a framework for measuring impact of public spending. This is unlikely to change, despite the government's best intentions.
  • However, to develop sporting culture, the most important element is a change in mindset. Indian parents often do not see the importance of sports in the development of our children. Since sports is not considered a viable career path, parents generally discourage children from spending too much time in the playing field.

In this age of increasing child obesity, it has never been more important to encourage children to take to sports.Sports also teaches children valuable life skills - such as perseverance, cooperation, teamwork, leadership and conflict resolution - that they can take with them regardless of where they end up.

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Tags | Infrastructure status Ministry of Finance Sporting culture Sports Ministry Sports sector