India’s best-ever medal tally at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics has created an increased interest in sports in general, going past the obsession with Cricket. Governments have also announced handsome rewards to the medal winners. But what has been the budget allocation to Sports over the years?
India recorded its best-ever performance in the Olympics at the recently concluded 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The Indian Contingent, which is also India’s largest-ever participating in the Olympics, won 7 medals. This includes 1 Gold, 2 Silver & 4 Bronze medals. They bettered the earlier performance in terms of medals won during the 2012 London Olympics, where India won 6 medals – 2 Silver & 4 Bronze.
The better performance of India at this quadrennial sporting spectacle has drawn appreciation from many. Along with it were also the news & claims of support extended by governments, institutions, etc. of sponsoring the athletes in their training & preparation. Further, there are multiple posts on social media comparing the investments in sports made by the current NDA government with that of the earlier UPA government. They claim that the current government has allocated higher funds than earlier regimes, thereby contributing to the better performance in the latest edition of the Olympics.
In this context, we look at the actual numbers relating to the Central Government’s spending on Sports and the share of allocation to sports compared to the overall budget expenditure. We also review the various sports-related schemes in the country.
No major variance in the allocation to the Ministry of Youth & Sports as a share of total expenditure
The budget allocation to the Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports (MoYAS) for 2021-22 is Rs. 2.5 thousand crores. This comes to around 0.07% of the total Budget expenditure for the year i.e., Rs. 34.8 lakh crores. This amount is less than the previous year’s budget estimate, which was Rs. 2.82 thousand crores. It constituted 0.09% of the total Budget Estimate expenditure. However, this has been revised to Rs. 1.8 thousand crores, or about 0.05 % of the total revised expenditure for 2020-21, i.e., around 1.02 thousand crores have been reduced in the revised estimate.
On the other hand, the actuals for 2019-20 indicate that the actual spending in that year of the MoYAS is Rs. 2.6 thousand crores which is 0.10% of the total actual expenditure for the year. This is the highest allocation both in terms of the total amount as well as a share in total expenditure, over the past 10 years.
Since the current NDA government came into power in 2014, there is a gradual increase in the overall amount allocated to the MoYAS. But this increase in amount is proportionate with the overall increase in the total government expenditure. The share of allocation to the MoYAS remained between 0.06% and 0.08% during the current NDA regime.
The share of allocation to the ministry was similar even during the last years of UPA-2. Over the 15-year period i.e., 2007-08 to 2021-22, the highest allocation to this Ministry was during 2009-10 & 2010-11. But this was largely due to the expenditure & outlays related to the conduct of the 2010 Commonwealth Games (CWG) in Delhi. The higher share of 0.1% & O.15% in the earlier years, can also be attributed to the preparation for these games. Overall, it can be concluded that the share of allocation to the Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports largely remained constant irrespective of the regimes, and there is no specific increase in the allocation during the current government, apart from the launch of the dedicated Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS).
It ought to be noted that the allocation to this Ministry is not exclusive to Sports. This also includes an allocation to various schemes related to Youth Affairs. Hence a review of the different schemes dedicated to sports would throw more light on the trends in the government expenditure on sports.
Allocation to SAI & ‘Khelo India’ form the major share of expenditure on Sports
In response to a question in the Lok Sabha recently, the Minister for Youth Affairs & Sports provided the details of the allocation of funds under various Sports-related schemes in the country. As per this information, the allocation during 2019-20 has been considerably higher compared to both 2018-19 as well as 2020-21, with Rs. 2000 crores. Out of this Rs, 1,989.38 crores has been utilized.
Comparison of allocation to various schemes indicates that the increase during 2019-20 compared to the other years is due to the increased allocation to
- Sports Authority of India (SAI)
- Khelo India
Sports Authority of India (SAI): The allocation to SAI increased from Rs. 395 crores in 2018-19 to Rs. 615 crores in 2019-20. This level of allocation continued even in 2020-21 with Rs. 612.2 crores. This increase in allocation to SAI can be attributed to the 2020 Olympics.
Khelo India Scheme: The Government of India launched Khelo India Scheme in 2016-17 for Sports promotion & development in the country. This Scheme was introduced by merging three other Schemes intended for the same purpose – Rajiv Gandhi Khel Abhiyan, Urban Infrastructure Scheme & National Sports Talent Search.
Around Rs. 500 crores were allocated during 2018-19, of which only Rs. 342 crores were utilized. The allocation increased to Rs. 578 crores in 2019-20 of which Rs. 575 cores were utilized. In the ensuing year i.e., 2020-21, the allocation was reduced to Rs. 328.77 crores.
Assistance to NSF: Assistance to National Sports Federations (NSF) also forms a major part of the allocation. Rs. 245 crores were allocated in 2018-19, which increased to Rs. 300 crores in 2019-20. However, there was a steep cut in the allocation to only Rs. 132 crores in 2020-21.
This is one of the major contributors to the reduced overall allocation in 2020-21.
The underutilization of allocation to Khelo India in 2018-19, was compensated by the Rs. 125 crores utilization towards ‘CWG- SAI Stadia Renovation’ which was allocated any amount earlier.
National Centre of Sports Science and Research (NCSSR), National Sports University (NSU) in the Northeast have also seen a cut in the allocation during 2020-21 compared to the earlier year.
There is also a reduction in the allocation during 2020-21 under the categories ‘Pensions to Meritorious Sports Persons’ & ‘Special Cash Awards’. Allocation of Rs. 77.15 crores to NSDF (National Sports Development Fund) were also one of the reasons for the increase in overall allocation during 2019-20, for which the allocation during the other years was very less.
Shooting has received the highest allocation under TOPS followed by para-Sports & Athletics
Under Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS), customized training & facilities are provided to potential Olympic medal winners. As per a response provided in Lok Sabha in July 2021, a total of 162 athletes along with the Men’s & Women’s Hockey Teams are included as part of TOPS Core Group and 254 athletes are included in TOPS Development Group.
During 2018-19, a total amount of Rs. 14.31 crores were spent on TOPS, which decreased to Rs. 12.41 crores in 2019-20. In 2020-21, an expenditure of Rs. 15.65 crores were incurred under TOPS.
Among the different Sporting Disciplines, the highest allocation was made to Shooting with Rs. 10.01 cores over the four-year period between 2018-19 and 2021-22 (as of July 2021). A total of 15 shooters from India participated in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, the second largest group after Athletics.
Athletics received the third-highest allocation with Rs. 5.38 crores and formed the largest group among the Indian Olympic contingent with 25. India’s lone gold medal was from Athletics.
These are followed by Wrestling & Badminton where-in India fared better compared to other disciplines.
The second highest allocation under TOPS is for Para-sports. The next edition of the Paralympics would be conducted in Tokyo during the latter part of the year. Indian Para-Olympians have recorded their best medal haul during the previous Rio-2016 Paralympics with 4 medals (2 Gold, 1 Silver & 2 Bronze).
Need to increase the allocation for sports and identify specific disciplines for planned investment
As the data indicates, despite claims, there has not been any substantial increase in the allocation to sports under the current regime. The overall allocation to MoYAS is still only around 0.06 to 0.08% of the total expenditure of the government, as is the case for the last 10 odd years.
The only instance of a comparative increase was during the conduct of Commonwealth games. Even during the years where India has participated in major sporting events – Commonwealth games in 2014 & 16, and Olympics in 2016 & 2021, there has not been any substantial increase in the spending on sports.
The lower allocation to various schemes in 2020-21 could be due to COVID-19. While TOPS is focused on providing assistance to medal prospects, which has been useful to many athletes, it is limited to elite athletes and medal prospects at the Olympics and other such international events. The Rs. 1.5 lakhs assistance given to equestrians, during 2020-21, with the lone Indian participant in that discipline can be cited as an example. Golf did not see any allocation under the TOPS though India’s women golfer Aditi Ashok finished fourth and came close to winning a medal at the 2020 Olympics.
While the TOPS provides the much-needed financial assistance to elite athletes, this is only after they reach a certain level in the sport. There is a need for a much more proactive approach, where-in the encouragement to athletes starts much before they reach that level or become established names in the respective sport.
With the 2020 Olympics receiving increased viewership and interest among the general population, this is the right time for governments at both the central & state level to invest in sports infrastructure and create a support system for athletes. The private sector could also play a significant role in this endeavour.
In addition to rewards to medallists, increased investments & a proactive approach can help India become more successful on the international stage.
Featured Image: Budget allocation to Sports