New Delhi: The revived All India Council of Sports (AICS) on Saturday recommended a massive hike in central government's sports budget stating that the current Rs 886 crore allocation is too meagre for a country as big as India.
Among other recommendations in its first meeting held today, members of AICS felt that states should have uniformity in prize money awarded to medal-winning athletes besides proposing a 'sports for all' countrywide campaign.
"The current union budget allocation (for sports) is meagre. Olympic preparation is going fine as very few qualify for Olympics but looking at our population of 1.25 billion, at least Rs 12,500 crore should be our sports budget and that is what we have recommended to the Sports Ministry," AICS chief V K Malhotra said after the two-hour meeting.
The AICS has been revived after 11 years and last functioned during the tenure of the NDA government.
Further elaborating his point, Malhotra said: "We need to broadbase our sports policy. Around Rs 800 crore is the budget allocation and per capita it comes to Rs 7 to 8. It needs to be at least Rs 100. Some states (Gujarat and Haryana) are doing well in this regard and spending Rs 80 to 100 per capita. The allocation (of Rs 12,500 crore) could include the budget allocation for Members of Parliament and MLAs."
Former archer and national coach Limba Ram and Indian athletics great P T Usha were some of the members present during the meeting and conspicuous by his absence was Sachin Tendulkar, who missed his flight to Delhi due to fog.
The AICS also recommended setting up of 10 lakh sports clubs across the country.
"Like food for all, there should be sports for all campaign which should be run across the country. There are about 5.5 lakh villages besides urban areas. They should have sports facilities. MPs and MLAs can use the money from their allocation to set up these clubs. Therefore, we have recommended Rs 10 lakh sports clubs," said Malhotra, the former President of the archery federation.
Talking about the upcoming Rio Olympics, Malhotra hoped that India will send an athlete contingent of at least 100 and called for early resolution of administrative mess in sports federations such as boxing, which doesn't have a governing boy as of now.
"The issues in boxing should be sorted at the earliest. The issue was discussed in the meeting as well. We need to make sure that athletes don't suffer."
On the suggestion of uniformed prize money for medallists, Malhotra said: "Prize money of medal winners is not uniform. Some states give Rs 2 crore to athletes and some Rs 10 lakh. We will advise the central government to talk to all state governments to have a uniform structure.
"Besides that, corporate houses should adopt one or two disciplines and support it to the Olympic level and for that, income tax exemption should be provided. Likewise, states can adopt one game and bear the expense."
On the sports code and recent recommendations made by the Supreme Court-appointed Lodha Committee on the governance of cricket: "The issue was not discussed in detail. The matter is subjudice. All I can say is that autonomy and accountability of sports bodies should go together."
AICS observed that awareness on doping should be increased.
"Not only competition testing, out of competition testing during training should also be compulsory," Malhotra added.
Malhotra further stressed on the need to make yoga as a compulsory subject in schools. In September, the sports ministry had recognised yoga as a sports discipline and placed it in the priority category.
"Members present requested President, AICS to take up the matter with the Union Human Resource Development Ministry as National Education Policy is being finalised," read an AICS statement.
IOA boss N Ramachandran, who was present in the meeting, added that AICS chief Malhotra should write to district collectors of seven hundred districts to use their offices to convince PSUs, Business Houses, MPs , MLAs and local bodies to contribute towards creation of sports infrastructure.
PT Usha covered wide range of subjects such as lack of proper sports infrastructure and dependency on foreign coaches.