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Explainer: What is Khelo India Scheme?

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Development of Sports is usually not an important focus area for governments. Is the Khelo India scheme any different? What are the features of this scheme?

The Sports eco-system in India leaves much to be desired in an international context. Right from the scope of identifying talent, to the infrastructure in place to nurture the talent – India has over the years been lagging on this front.

Many initiatives have been taken up by successive governments to improve sports infrastructure and the overall functioning across the country. While there has been a lot of improvement over the years, a lot is yet to be achieved.

‘Khelo India’ is a new initiative by the current NDA government to improve the sports infrastructure in India as well as to identify and nurture sports talent.

New scheme formed by merger of earlier schemes

Prior to the launch of Khelo India, sports promotion and development in India was carried out through three separate schemes:

  1. Rajiv Gandhi Khel Abhiyan: Infrastructure in rural areas and encouraging sports through competitions
  2. Urban Infrastructure Scheme: Development of Infrastructure in urban areas.
  3. National Sports Talent Search: Identifying sports talent

These three programme were merged into a single central sector scheme ‘Khelo India: National Programme for Development of Sports’ from the financial year 2016-17. The program is run under the aegis of Union Ministry of Youth & Sports.

Khelo India Scheme_Older schemes merger

Identification and nurturing of talent main aim of Khelo India Scheme

One of the key objectives of the scheme is to identify talented athletes from across the country and nurture the talent through guidance and developed infrastructural facilities. In this context, Khelo India has four objectives:

  • Conduct structured annual sports competition and encourage Mass participation of youth.
  • Identify talent through these competitions.
  • Guidance and nurturing of the talent through the existing and new infrastructure
  • Creation of Sports infrastructure at various levels.

To facilitate these objectives Khelo India Scheme has four components.

Khelo India Scheme_Objectives

a.Competition: Sports competition would be held at Block/District/State and National level.

The competitions are conducted for different age-groups:

  • 6-12 years
  • 12-18 years
  • 18-36 years
  • 36-50 years
  • Above 50 years

The competitions for above 36 age group are in context of encouraging general health. Physically challenged athletes have a separate set of competitions.  The first edition of Khelo India School games were held in New Delhi between 30 January 2018 and 07 February 2018.

A larger event, Khelo India Youth Games was held in Pune, Maharashtra between 09 January to 20 January 2019. The next edition would be held in Guwahati, Assam in 2020.

b. Sponsorship: Under Khelo India Scheme, the funding for sports promotion and development has switched from centrally aided scheme to Central Sector Scheme. The State and local authorities would continue to be involved but within the capacity of assistance regarding, identifying land for infrastructure, conducting competitions etc. Another unique aspect of the scheme would be the encouragement for PPP (Public -Private Partnership), where in the organizers of the events are free to invite private sponsors to contribute financially and in kind. The funds can be used in creation and upgradation of the sporting facilities.

c. Talent: As indicated earlier, one of the key purposes of the scheme is to identify sporting talent.  Talented sportspersons among the participants form the competitions conducted at District, State and National levels are identified under the age groups of 6-12 and 12-18.

These selected candidates are eligible for scholarships or admission into SAI (Sports Authority of India) Centres and Sports Academies. The athletes are selected for Long Term Athlete Development (LTAD) programme, where they would receive training in the accredited academies and SAI centers.

The support is in the nature of expert coaches, sports equipment, boarding & lodging, sports kits, competition exposure, educational expenses, medical. Insurance, stipends etc.  Sporting talent selected for LTAD receive financial assistance of Rs. 5 lakh per annum.

As per a press release on 08 July 2019, the concerned minister responding to a question in Rajya Sabha stated that 2,437 individuals across 20 sports disciplines are selected under Talent Search & Development of Khelo India.

d. Infrastructure:

Prior to Khelo India Scheme, USIS (Urban Sports Infrastructure Scheme) was mandated with the responsibility of creating sports infrastructure. However, this scheme is now merged into the Khelo India Scheme.

Under the new scheme, infrastructure is being developed both in the existing SAI Centres as well as identifying new spaces for sports infrastructure. Currently Khelo India provides Infrastructure support for 46 recognized SAI Centres.

Khelo India Scheme_46 recognized SAI Centres

To meet the objectives of Khelo India, the entire programme is divided in 12 verticals as mentioned in the below picture.

Khelo India Scheme_12 Vertical divisions

Online Registration for Khelo India

Athletes and coaches can register for Khelo India, through online registration link. There are three options for registration as new user – Athlete, Coach or Technical Official.

Selecting the suitable option, leads to an online form:

Along with personal details (Including Aadhaar), furnishing the details of the respective sport is mandatory.

25 sport disciplines are enlisted apart from disciplines for Para-athletes. Once the details are entered, the profile can be created.

Once the details are entered, the profile can be created.

Rs. 199.31 crores released to States/UTs in 2018-19 under Khelo India scheme

Responding to question in Lok Sabha on 25 July 2019, the concerned minister for Sports stated that for 2018-19, a sum of Rs. 199.31 crores was allocated to the states/UTs for sanctioned infrastructure projects and for the conduct of sports competitions.

This amount is less than the sanctioned amount of Rs. 223.27 crores in 2017-18. During 2016-17, the first year for Khelo India scheme a total of 108.48 crores was sanctioned.

Over the last three years, Uttar Pradesh has received the highest amount with Rs. 59.93 crores, followed by Arunachal Pradesh with Rs. 58.82 crores. Rajasthan received the third highest amount over the three years with Rs. 56.48 crores.

Among the larger states, Bihar has received the least amount over the three years with only Rs.0.76 crores.

In a press release on 27June, 2019, the Government of India provided details of the key achievements of Khelo India Scheme. It remains to be seen if these changes to the scheme result in any substantial improvement in India’s performance in multilateral competitions.

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