Chandigarh: It pays to be a Haryanvi for now - with or without a medal in the London Olympics.
With the Haryana government showering huge cash rewards for its medal winners in the London Olympics, having even the remotest connection to the north Indian state is a paying proposition, literally!
Badminton star Saina Nehwal and shooter Gagan Narang may be from Hyderabad but their family roots in Haryana have assured them Rs.1 crore each in reward for winning a bronze in the Olympics.
Haryana-born wrestler Yogeshwar Dutt, who hails from Sonipat district in the state, is also getting the same amount for his bronze.
With Delhi-based wrestler Sushil Kumar too having Haryana roots, the reward of Rs1.5 crore (for silver) and Rs 2.5 crore (for gold) awaits him.
For the Bhupinder Singh Hooda-led government in the state, not winning a medal in the Olympics is not a setback for the sportsman. Every player from the state who has participated in the 2012 London Games is assured of at least Rs.11 lakh each just for participation.
Haryana alone sent not less than 18 players in the Indian contingent of 81 athletes. Five of seven boxers of the Indian team, including Beijing bronze medallist Vijender Singh, were from Haryana.
"We want to encourage sporting culture among the youths. That is why we have enhanced the rewards for medal winners and all participants," Chief Minister Hooda said recently.
The state government recently announced that rewards for players from Haryana winning gold, silver and bronze medals in the Olympic Games were being enhanced to Rs.2.50 crore, Rs.1.50 crore and Rs.1 crore respectively. Earlier, the amount was Rs.2 crore, Rs.1 crore and Rs.50 lakh.
The Indian hockey team may have given its worst-ever performance in the Olympics but team players from Haryana went to London with pocket-loads of money in their kitty.
Hockey players from Haryana were richer by Rs.1.08 crore February this year after the team qualified for the London Olympics, beating France (8-1) in the qualifiers. India was back in the Olympics after eight years.
Drag-flicker Sandeep Singh, who scored five goals in that match, got Rs.25 lakh (Rs.5 lakh for each goal) for the effort in that match.
For each of the other 11 goals he scored in the qualifying tournament, Sandeep got another Rs.11 lakh at Rs.1 lakh per goal. For winning the qualifying tournament, the two players from Haryana got Rs.11 lakh each. Thus, Sandeep ended up with a whopping Rs.47 lakh just to reach the Olympics.
For hockey players from other states, Haryana announced a reward of Rs.2.51 lakh each.
Haryana has also enhanced the prize money for medal winners in the Asian Games. Gold, silver and bronze medallists would now get Rs.25 lakh, Rs.15 lakh and Rs.10 lakh respectively, instead of Rs.10, Rs.7 and Rs.5 lakh given earlier.
For the Commonwealth Games (CWG) gold, silver and bronze medallists, players from Haryana would get Rs.15 lakh, Rs.10 lakh and Rs.5 lakh respectively, instead of Rs.7, Rs.5 and Rs.3 lakh.
Participating players in the Asian Games and the CWG would get a reward of Rs.2 lakh each.
Hooda said that Para-olympics Asian Games gold medallist players would now get Rs.25 lakh. As per the earlier policy, they were given Rs.1 lakh only.
After the New Delhi CWG and Guangzhou Asian Games in 2010, Haryana players were showered with cash rewards of millions of rupees, luxury cars, smartphones and cans of desi ghee.