Shillong, Apr 12: The state government has invited stakeholders to give their views and comments on the long-awaited draft Meghalaya Sports Policy. The draft can be found here.
The report was prepared by the Indian Institute of Management, Shillong and runs to more than 60 pages.
The long-term policy “aims at promoting the participation in sports and games by all the residents of the state with an aspiration to higher achievement in sports” and to “position Meghalaya as a leading sporting state in India”. It suggests the creation of a Meghalaya Sports Authority to oversee the development of sport in the state.
Twelve disciplines have been highlighted as priority areas, with five of them Priority One – archery, boxing, taekwondo, judo and football – with the other seven as Priority Two – athletics, karate, wushu, weightlifting, badminton, table tennis and shooting.
Geography, history, demographics, physical and social anthropology, socio-cultural ethos, psycho-physiological makeup of the residents, popularity of the sports and medal-winning capabilities were used as criteria for selecting these disciplines.
The policy was produced over several years and doesn’t seem to have been updated consistently. For example, it states that karate may be considered a Priority One sport if included in the next Olympics, but the martial art has already been allotted a place in the 2020 Games. Furthermore the draft proposes the possibility of a special tax to fund sports in Meghalaya even when these types of cess have been scrapped with the introduction of GST last year.
The state associations that run the 12 priority sports were to receive Rs 3.9 crore as grants for the just concluded 2017-18 financial year, with a drop to Rs 2.4 crore in 2018-19.
Further incentives promised include increases in grants if these associations can win medals, while those that do not will be punished with cuts and even possibly a complete halt in funding.
Sports clubs could receive financial assistance from the government, but criteria for this will have yet to be formalised, and clubs will be encouraged to adopt an additional discipline to the one on which they are primarily focused on.
Big infrastructure projects are highlighted under the policy. Schools focused on sports in each district and a state sports academy will be created. The latter will cater to the Priority One disciplines in phase one, before expanding to include the others.
Meghalaya will also get its own anti-doping agency, which will work under the National Anti Doping Agency.
The sports policy also proposes regular competitions at the community, school, college, district and state levels in various age categories, as well as a ‘Chief Minister Cup’ to be awarded to the district that is the overall champion.
Additionally, the draft recommends the expansion of the sports quota in government jobs and education, as well as scholarships, medical cover and even bonus marks for athletes pursuing educational courses.
Under the policy the financial incentives for athletes are huge. If Meghalaya ever produces an Olympic/Paralympic gold medal winner, he/she will be awarded Rs 2 crore by the state. Even one who doesn’t earn a medal but still takes part will be given Rs 10 lakh. The awards are smaller, but still significant, for athletes in the Asian Games, Commonwealth Games, South Asian Games, etc.
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