Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju on Wednesday assured that there will be no shortage of funds for the National Sports Federations (NSFs), despite the government slashing its allocation in an Olympic year.
The government last week gave a substantial hike of ₹312.42 crore to its flagship Khelo India program but reduced allocation to the NSFs, National Sports Development Fund (NSDF) and incentives for sportspersons.
“If there are shortage of funds for the federations, these can always be taken up, that is why there is a provision for revision. If they need more money, they will get more money,” Rijiju told reporters during an interaction here.
The highest reduction in the sports budget was seen in National Sports Federations with ₹245.00 crore being allocated, which is ₹55 crore less than the revised ₹300.85 for 2019-20.
As far as incentives for sportspersons are concerned, the budget has proposed to slash the amount from ₹111 crore to ₹ 70 crore. The budget for NSDF also got reduced to ₹ 50 crore from the earlier ₹ 77.15 crore.
Overall, ₹ 2826.92 crore was allocated to the sports budget for the next financial year in the Union Budget, which is an increase of a mere ₹ 50 crore from the revised estimates of 2019-20.
Rijiju said: “You are looking from a different angle. Whatever we got in the last budget allocation, we had a jump of more than 50 %, what you are saying 50 crores, you are comparing from the Revised Estimate (RE), if you see the original allocation in last budget, it is a historical jump.
“You have to see from the actual stand point, then you will get the complete picture.”
The Indian Olympic Association had recently invited Sourav Ganguly to become the Goodwill Ambassador of the Indian contingent at the Tokyo Olympics this year.
Asked if an Olympian would have been a better choice, Rijiju said: “For me, every Indian has to be an ambassador for the Olympics because it is a platform which determines which country stands where in the sports, so I’m not looking for one or two person. IOA is an independent body but as a government I look forward to every Indian as an ambassador.”
The Inaugural Khelo India University Games, featuring 177 institutes and 3,340 athletes will be held at the KIIT University Campus in Bhubaneswar from February 22 to March 1.
Talking about the flagship project, the sports minister said: “I am excited to see the huge shift in the way we organise sporting events in India. Now we are going to have Khelo India University Games in Orissa. It would happen in a mega scale, it would not be like what we used to see, where each university used to host one discipline.
“Worldwide the standard of University Games is high, most of the stars of the Olympics come from here. Because the age bar is higher than Youth games, the standard will be higher and we will definitely see many champions from this.
“We are focussing on scouting of the talent. It will be a platform to create the talent pool, who will be provided training and support.”
India on Tuesday entered the finals of the under-19 World Cup after beating Pakistan by 10 wickets.
To a question, Rijiju said India is a much stronger sporting nation compared to Pakistan and his vision is to make the country a powerhouse.
“India has always beaten Pakistan in the World Cups, not only in cricket but also in other sports like hockey. But when we talk about Indian standard, I don’t look at our duel with Pakistan, because we are much better, bigger and stronger sporting nation,” he said.