India cannot particularly be called a ‘sports nation.’ After all, considering the country’s massive size and population, India has traditionally underperformed in sports. In contrast, China, which has a more densely populated demographic, has been highly successful when it comes to athletics.
After the 6-medal high of 2012 London Olympics, India faced a national embarrassment of sorts in following Olympics in 2016, when it somehow managed to bring back just 2 medals. This was an alarming sign for a country that is staking to be a regional superpower in the coming years.
Resources weren’t a problem for India, how it was spent was a problem. In comparison to other countries, India had a far worse GDP-to-medal ratio (0.03 as compared to UK (2.5) and US (0.67)).
Britain, a country that lags behind India both in population and GDP, finished second in the games with 67 medals. The nation spent ₹2,437 crores over 20 sports disciplines between 2013-17. In the same period of time, the Indian government spent only ₹740 crores over as many as 67 national sports disciplines. For another comparison, the United States’ University of South California spends just over ₹640 crores per annum towards sports. Moreover, the 67 disciplines also included non-Olympic sports like cricket, golf, ball-badminton, and tug-of-war.
India had to not only revamp its spend on sports but also the way in which it was spent.
Khelo India Programme
In 2017, the central government put forward a proposal before the parliament for a revamped Khelo India (Play India) scheme. The move was aimed at encouraging mass participation as well as promoting excellence in sports. However, the scheme aimed at addressing a bigger problem, that of optimal use of resources.
Khelo India Scheme aimed at providing an annual scholarship of ₹ 500,000 each for eight years to 1,000 selected athletes. For the first two years between 2017-18 and 2019-20, the program cost the government a total sum of ₹1,756 crores. The government also promised to promote 20 universities across India as hubs for sporting excellence. The bill was unanimously passed in the Union Cabinet.
The revamped Khelo India programme aimed at the impact of the entire sports ecosystem, community sports, including infrastructure, coaching for excellence, talent identification, competition structure as well as the sports economy.
According to the sports minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, while the prior sports schemes were focused on building infrastructure, the new scheme is focused on nurturing talent and connecting rural India to global games.
Structure of Khelo India Scheme
Following are the 13 Components including in the Khelo India Scheme:
1. Play Field Development
This includes preparation of a national inventory of playfield and sports infrastructure by GIS and development of playfields at various state and district levels.
2. Community Coaching Development
This involves skill development and certification system for sports coaching. This is aimed at evolving and identifying PETs and training them as master trainees with online courses also included.
3. State Level Khelo India Centres
This involves supporting better utilization of sports infrastructure in relation to the States/Union Territories through M0Us.
4. Annual Sports Competitions
One of the most important aspects of the scheme, this component is aimed to be a platform for talent spotting and providing development pathways for gifted and talented children to achieve sports excellence.
Under the scheme, the Central Government will organize the following National level competitions, i.e., Khelo India National School Games and the Khelo India National University Games (collectively known as Khelo India Youth Games now), with respect to high priority sports disciplines such as Archery, Athletics, Badminton, Basketball, Boxing, Chess, Cycling, Football, Gymnastics, Handball, Hockey, Judo, Kabaddi, Karate, Kho-Kho, Shooting, Swimming, Table Tennis, Taekwondo, Tennis, Volleyball, Weightlifting, Wrestling and Wushu, at various places across the country.
It is important to note that cricket is not a part of this program.
5. Talent Search and Development
In addition to the selection of the prize winners for the scheme, a talent identification committee is instituted to spot and identify talent with the help of globally accepted scientific methods.
6. Utilization and Creation/ Upgradation of Sports Infrastructure
As the name suggests, this component aims at developing sports infrastructure at schools and universities demonstrating high sporting potential. Care would also be taken to ensure optimum utilization of these resources.
7. Support to National/Regional/State Sports Academies
This component takes care of providing resources under Public Private Partnership (PPP) mode for expediting and augmenting Long Term Athlete Development programme.
9. Physical Fitness of School-going Children
An effort will be made to encourage an increased penetration of sports in the education curriculum. Moreover, a tool kit will be developed under the scheme to measure the children’s physical fitness levels.
10. Sports for Women
Although the entire scheme is gender-neutral, there is a proposal to conduct annual national competitions, especially for women, with thorough emphasis on sports disciplines where women participation is limited.
11. Promotion of Sports among persons with disabilities
Financial assistance will be provided to States and Union Territories as well as the Sports Authority of India for the creation of specialist sports infrastructure for persons with disabilities.
12. Sports for Peace and Development
Under the Special Package for J&K, the Government of India is providing funds of up to ₹ 200 crores for enhancement of sports facilities in the State.
To further ensure that the resources are optimally utilized, soft support through coaches, equipment, consumables, technical support, competition etc. is to be provided.
In addition to the above, concentrated efforts will be made at organizing village level competitions with respect to sports disciplines popular in the State to ensure positive engagement of youth.
13. Promotion of rural and indigenous/tribal games
Under the scheme, annual competitions will be organized to showcase India’s rural and indigenous/tribal games alternately.
About Khelo India Games
The Khelo India Games was introduced to revive the sports culture in India at the grass-root level. The aim was to build a strong framework for all the Indian sports as well as establishing India as a great sporting nation.
One of the 12 objectives illustrated above, Khelo India Games programme is aimed at identifying talented players in priority sports disciplines at different levels by a high-powered committee. These young athletes would then be provided annual financial assistance of ₹5 lakh per annum each. The duration of this scholarship would be 8 years.
Khelo India Games 2018, New Delhi
The first Khelo India Games 2018, named as the Khelo India School Games was held from 31st January to 8th February 2018 in New Delhi. The event was inaugurated by Hon’ble Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the Indira Gandhi Arena.
As many as 16 disciplines were contested in the competition at a U17 level. They included Archery, Athletics, Badminton, Basketball, Boxing, Football, Gymnastics, Hockey, Judo, Kabaddi, Kho-Kho, Shooting, Swimming, Volleyball, Weightlifting, and Wrestling.
The event that took place from 31st January to 8th February 2018, was a humongous success with as many as 5,000 students from 29 states and 7 Union Territories participating.
As many as 199 golds, 199 silver, and 275 bronze were distributed.
Khelo India Games 2018- The Haryana Show
Haryana was the star of the show in the inaugural Khelo India School Games, having won the maximum number of medals in the tournament.
Haryana, riding on a rich final day haul of medals, had the laugh as they pipped Maharashtra to scalp the crown of the Team Champions.
The north Indian state bagged as many as 38 gold, 26 silver, and 38 bronze, whereas runner-ups Maharashtra concluded with figures of 36 gold, 32 silver, and 42 bronze. Nonetheless, Maharashtra had the consolation of winning the most medals (110) in comparison to Haryana’s 102.
#Haryana Tops Khelo India School Games 2018 Medal Tally with 38 Gold🥇 , 26 silver 🥈 & 38 bronze 🥉 !
Maharashtra, Delhi & Karnataka bagged 2nd, 3rd & 4th spots in final medal tally. pic.twitter.com/OZZVATH4uY
— Haryana Tweets ✏️ (@HaryanaTweets) February 9, 2018
Haryana and Maharashtra were the sole states cross the 100-mark medal tally. Hosts Delhi came in at the third place, having won 25 gold, 29 silver and 40 bronze for a total of 94 medals.
Some of the sports in which Haryana performed well was wrestling, boxing, judo, archery, football, and hockey.
The inaugural Khelo India can be considered as a success, with certain, intermittent troubles. While nobody expected it to be perfect in the first go itself, many expressed their satisfaction with what they saw.
Karnam Malleswari, India’s first woman to win an Olympic medal, pointed out the media factor (Khelo India was covered exclusively on television and online streaming by Star India) as a major factor in sports promotion. “ If children are given the right opportunities, they will certainly become champions,” she added.
Distinguished boxing coach GS Sandhu also expressed his satisfaction with the presence of the event on the Television, further underlining the positives that come along. He also spoke about the importance of the platform adding, “Khelo India School games is just what we needed to unearth talent from the early stages.”
Khelo India Youth Games 2019
The Khelo India School Games returned back in 2019 with much fanfare, and a new name – Khelo India Youth Games (KIYG). The Games was hosted by Maharashtra, with most of the venues in Pune.
It different than its predecessor in many ways, the foremost being the scale. While Khelo India School Games (KISG) was only for participants under 17 years of age, KIYG included both the U17 and the U21 categories, taking the number of participants up to 9,000 competing in the 18 disciplines. The 2019 Games is hosted by more than one cities (Pune and Mumbai), unlike its 2018 counterpart.
My best wishes to all young friends taking part in the Khelo India Youth Games, which are beginning in Pune today.
May this tournament showcase the best sporting talent and give our youth a platform to fulfil their sporting dreams. @kheloindia
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) January 9, 2019
Moreover, as many as four venues, led by the Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Shivaji Sports Complex, Balewadi, are hosting the Khelo India Youth Games.
A total outlay of ₹ 40 crores was spent on KIYG. Approximately, 80 percent of this expenditure was for refurbishing the existing sports infrastructure. The Central Government contributed 50 percent of the outlay.
Procedure of registration
Rules for Registration
Should be born after
01/01/2002 for the U17 Category
01/01/1998 for the U21 Category
Athletes should be registered with the schools for the U17 category although there is no such restriction for the U21 category.
All the registration process for the Khelo India Youth Games has to be done through online mode at the Youth Affairs and Sports Ministry website.
Athletes should upload following of the valid documents to complete their verification:
School Bonafide Certificate
Eligibility to Participate for the State
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