New Delhi: Emboldened by the huge support from the former and current top sportspersons of the country, Sports Minister Ajay Maken on Monday said that he hoped the revised National Sports Development Bill would be cleared by the Cabinet.
"I am happy that top sportspersons in the country across the disciplines have supported the Bill. My first step is to get the revised Bill cleared by the Cabinet. With the kind of support from the current and former players, I am hoping that it will be cleared by the Cabinet this time," Maken said.
The minister was speaking to reporters after distributing cash awards to 130 sporstspersons and 132 coaches who or their wards won medals in international sports events during the past two years.
Only 17 athletes out of 130, however, turned up to receive their cash awards. Prominent among those who did not turn up include top cueist Pankaj Advani, Olympics bronze medallist wrestler Sushil Kumar, star shooter Gagan Narang, woman chess Grandmaster Koneru Humpy and women 800m national record holder Tintu Luka.
Maken said the ministry was not seeking interference in the functioning of the National Sports Federations through the Sports Bill but only wanted to bring transparency in their working.
"We are not interfering in the functioning of the NSFs. But I feel there is a need for transparency in their working since they are spending public money. Indian sports can rise to higher levels if there is more transparency and more participation of the athletes in the functioning of NSFs," he said.
He said the priority of his ministry was that all the policies should center around the betterment of sportspersons.
"The country`s sports management should be that all policies should be centred around sportspersons. Sports Eco System should revolved around sportrspersons. They should be the fulcrum," he said.
The minister reiterated that there would be no dearth of money for the training of athletes and hiring of foreign coaches for the country`s preparations for next year`s London Olympics.
"I want to assure all stakeholders that there will be no dearth of money. We will provide the money for foreign coaches wherever required and for the foreign exposure of athletes for the preparation of London Olympics," he said.
"There is a steering committee headed by the Sports Secretary to look into requirements of foreign exposure trips of athletes and for foreign coaches. Olympics qualification process is going on now and once this is over I personally will look into how the requirements of the athletes are met so that we perform well in London."
Maken also expressed happiness that the International Hockey Federation has confirmed the Olympic qualifiers to India, besides other major tournaments to be held in the next two years.
"Two days back, I spoke to (FIH chief) Leandro Negre and he said that Hockey India and Indian Hockey Federation should bury their differences and work for the betterment of Indian hockey. I think it is the right way to go ahead," he said.
"I am happy that India will host the Olympic qualifiers and other major tournaments in the coming two years," he added.
Earlier, Maken distributed cash awards worth Rs 7.71 crore to 130 sportspersons, who won medals in international sports events during 2009-10 and 2010-11, and 132 coaches who have guided these sportspersons.
Rs 2.08 crore were given to 130 sportspersons from disciplines of athletics, billiards and snooker, wrestling, chess, shooting, boxing, rowing, swimming, squash rackets, judo, weightlifting, yachting and para Asian Games.
Cash awards worth Rs 5.63 crore were handed to 132 coaches, who have imparted coaching to sportspersons who have won medals in 2010 Commonwealth Games and 2010 Asian Games.
Maken announced that there would be no delay in giving cash awards to those who won medals in international sports events and there would be two such functions in a year so that the athletes get awards soon after their performances.
"From now onwards, we will ensure that the cash awards are not delayed. We will hold two such functions and it would be an annual feature. May be November 14 can be one such day and the other one could be in May-June that is within six months," he said.
"The idea is that the sportspersons get the cash awards as soon as they win the medals."
He also said that efforts will be made to give cash incentives to those coaches who trained the sportspersons in the initial phases of their career.
"Many coaches like in traditional sports wrestling tell me that they have been training the medal winners since their childhood but somebody who coached them in one or two years gets the credit and money for their wards winning medals.
"So, in future we will also give the same cash award to those coaches who groomed the medal winners from the initial phases of their career," Maken said.
167 sportspersons who won medals in 2010 CWG and 156 sportspersons who won medals in 2010 Asian Games have already been given cash awards worth Rs 26.82 crore in November-December last year.