Central Idea: 5 Years of Khelo India
- The Khelo India Mission has completed 5 years. It is a GOI program aimed at providing international standard sports infrastructure and promoting fitness for citizens.
- The ultimate goal is to make India a sporting nation, and the program has been running since 2018, supporting over 2500 athletes in different disciplines.
- The success of Khelo India and its challenges will be discussed in this edition of the article.
What is Khelo India Mission?
- Khelo India is a national program launched by the Indian government in 2018 with the aim of promoting sports and fitness in India.
- The program seeks to provide sports infrastructure of international standards to budding athletes, promote a holistic approach towards fitness for citizens, and ultimately make India a sporting nation.
- It focuses on encouraging and promoting sports at the grassroots level and providing access to sporting facilities and infrastructure to all citizens, regardless of their economic background or geographical location.
- It also aims to develop and train coaches who can provide high-quality coaching and training to athletes at the grassroots level, identify young talent and provide financial assistance.
- The program also emphasizes the importance of teamwork, socialization, and the participation of girls in sports.
Achievements of the program
(1) Support to Young Athletes
- 2500 young athletes are being supported with Rs. 6.28 lakhs annually under the scheme and are being identified to represent India at international competitions.
- Successful athletes are further being inducted into Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS) for higher levels of training. 110 Khelo India athletes are part of TOPS.
(2) Organizing Competitions
- To ensure competition opportunities for young athletes, 5 Khelo India Youth Games with 43K participants have been organized.
- Khelo India Leagues are held throughout the year, with a special focus on girl athletes. More than 1.25 lakh girls have participated in it.
(3) Sports Infrastructure Created
- To ensure sports infrastructure availability in remote corners of India, 946 Khelo India Centers have been set up.
- By August 15, 2023, 1000 KICs are expected to be operational, giving every district in India a sports facility for the training of grassroots-level athletes.
(4) Indigenous Games Inducted
- A special emphasis on indigenous games under Khelo India has ensured the popularity of India’s traditional sporting disciplines like Gatka, Thang-Ta, Mallakhamb, Kalaripayattu and Yoga.
- These games have also been included in KIYG to give athletes an impetus to practice them.
Significance of the Program
- Promoting the importance of sports and fitness: The program promotes the importance of sports and fitness in one’s life, as playing sports inculcates team spirit, and develops strategic and analytical thinking, leadership skills, goal setting, and risk-taking.
- Improving confidence and social skills: Participation in the program has helped athletes improve their confidence, teamwork, leadership skills, and socialization. The program emphasizes the importance of teamwork, providing opportunities for children to learn how to work with others and manage different personalities, find their way as leaders etc.
- Encouraging the participation of girls in sports: The program emphasizes the participation of girls in sports, providing them with a great opportunity to showcase their talents.
- Promoting diversity and inclusivity: The program’s emphasis on indigenous games and the participation of girls in sports is also a significant step in promoting diversity and inclusivity in sports.
- Creating world-class sports infrastructure: The program aims to create world-class sports infrastructure in the country, including training facilities, stadiums, and sports complexes. This will help create a conducive environment for athletes to train and compete at the highest level.
- Promoting sports for development and peace: The program aims to promote sports for development and peace by using sports, physical activity, and play to attain specific development and peace objectives.
- Lack of awareness and participation: One of the significant challenges of the Khelo India program is a lack of awareness among the masses. Despite the program’s efforts to promote sports and fitness at the grassroots level, many people are still not aware of the program’s existence, which affects participation.
- Infrastructure challenges: Another challenge faced by the Khelo India program is infrastructure challenges. Despite the program’s efforts to create world-class sports infrastructure in the country, many areas still lack the necessary infrastructure, including training facilities, stadiums, and sports complexes.
- Shortage of trained coaches: The program’s success is also dependent on the availability of trained coaches who can provide high-quality coaching and training to athletes at the grassroots level. However, there is a shortage of trained coaches, which affects the program’s effectiveness.
- Funding issues: The program’s effectiveness is also dependent on funding. Despite the government’s efforts to provide financial assistance to promising athletes, more funding is needed to create world-class sports infrastructure and to support athletes in their training and development.
- Lack of support for indigenous games: Although the program aims to promote indigenous games, there is still a lack of support and infrastructure for these games, which affects their popularity and development.
- Gender bias and lack of opportunities: Despite the program’s efforts to promote the participation of girls in sports, there is still a gender bias in many areas, and girls often face a lack of opportunities and support, affecting their ability to participate and excel in sports.
Other initiatives for sports promotion
The Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports has formulated the following schemes to promote sports in the country, including in rural, tribal and backward areas:
- Assistance to National Sports Federations
- Special Awards to Winners in International sports events and their Coaches
- National Sports Awards, Pension to Meritorious Sports Persons
- Pandit Deendayal Upadhyay National Sports Welfare Fund
- National Sports Development Fund; and
- Running Sports Training Centres through Sports Authority of India
Benefits of Augmenting Sports
- Alternative career development: For those for whom opportunities are few, and jobs are scarce, sport becomes a powerful mobility device. A strong sports sector encourages an average/ poor academic student to make a career in sports.
- Reaping demographic dividend: India is having a very young population and is soon going to become the world’s youngest country. In such a scenario, a robust sports sector can help in reaping the potential demographic dividend.
- Revenue generation: Developing robust sports infrastructure in the country will allow India to host a greater number of international events. Such hosting boosts tourism in the country and results in enhancing the revenue and employment in the region. Ex. IPL
- Promotes the spirit of Unity in Diversity: People cheer for the Indian athletes and Indian teams at international events. An improvement in sports automatically fosters the spirit of brotherhood amongst the people of diverse nations. For instance, the Pan India support enjoyed by Indian cricket team enhances belongingness between India’s north and south.
- Increasing awareness and outreach: The government can increase awareness and outreach efforts to promote the program and encourage more people to participate in sports and fitness activities.
- Promoting indigenous games: The government can promote indigenous games by providing the necessary infrastructure, support, and funding for these games to increase their popularity and development.
- Ensuring gender equality: The government can ensure gender equality by promoting the participation of girls in sports and providing equal opportunities and support for both male and female athletes.
- Collaboration with private sector: The government can collaborate with the private sector to increase funding and support for sports and fitness activities.
- Uniformity in sports activities: Sports being a state subject, uniformity in sports activities across various states in India is essential to provide equal sporting opportunities to all citizens of the country.
- Collective action for talent development: To develop a talent pipeline, it is necessary to take collective action to create a system and environment where young talent is spotted and nurtured.
- Integration of sports with education: To introduce a sports culture in India, there is a need to integrate sports with education, making it a mandatory part of the curriculum.
- Increase allocation of funds: The allocation of funds to sports, as a percentage of the budget, can be increased to broad-base sports in the country and provide adequate funding for sports development.
- Spreading awareness in society: There is also a need to develop a sports culture in the whole country by spreading awareness in society and educating people about the benefits of sports in life.
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