The vision of Khelo India is to inculcate a sports culture and achieve sporting excellence in the country. It aims for holistic growth of an individual. As an initiative, it is novel. Its primary thrust is to bring children out of their houses to the playgrounds. Like some other initiatives of the government, Swachh Bharat to name one, this too would garner traction. Only time will tell whether it will be successful. As of now, the government has started investing in it big time. It got a major share of this year’s sports budget.
As a concept it is perhaps one of the best the country could have imagined—mixing sports with studies. It’s just the beginning and like any other programme this too can be in danger of being branded as propaganda. The issue will be its implementation. The programme aims to target those between 10 and 18 years. In India, monitoring has always been challenging.
And when money is involved, it’s a nightmare. Age-fudging is obscenely shameless; utilising funds for things other than training is another big hazard most funding agencies face, and Khelo India will be no exception; monitoring progress will not be easy at all, more so if the athlete comes from a rural background and coaches are conniving to share the spoils.
With a learned sports minister at the helm, perhaps these lacunae must have been addressed. The novelty of the School Games Federation of India that had been running these Games for years has diminished specifically for these reasons. Another factor that will propel this into a mass movement is security for our sportspersons.
The past tells us that every sports minister has their pet project and once they are gone, the projects are left to wither. So what happens to the young budding sportspersons then? The Target Olympic Podium Scheme, an obsession with the previous minister, suddenly finds no mention of late. Perhaps the focus has shifted. One hopes this won’t happen to Khelo India too. It’s a matter of India’s future.