Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerjee Research Foundation

How Prime Minister Modi is Revolutionising Sports in India: A Journey of Excellence

India made history at the Asian Games 2023 in Hangzhou, China, with a record haul of 107 medals, including 28 gold, 38 silver, and 41 bronze. This remarkable accomplishment surpassed India’s previous records. A 655- member Indian contingent competed in 41 events, marking India’s largest representation at the Asian Games. This outstanding success is further underlined by Prime Minister Modi’s inspirational slogan for this year’s Asian Games, ‘Ab ki Baar Sau Paar’,’ reinforcing India’s resolute dedication to reaching new heights in the world of sports. Additionally, India’s outstanding performance at the Asian Para Games 2023 is evident in the impressive medal tally with 111 medals, including 29 gold, 31 silver, and 51 bronze. This exceptional milestone signals towards India’s emergence as an Asian sports power.

India’s impressive achievements in international sporting competitions are a testament to Prime Minister Modi’s unwavering commitment to ensuring a proper environment for sports. This is demonstrated through the successful implementation of a range of government initiatives and schemes, including- Khelo India National Program for Development of Sports, Targeted Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPs), The National Sports Talent Search Scheme 2023, Sports Authority of India Training Centres Scheme (STC), Special Area Games (SAG) Scheme, among others.

Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS)

To enhance India’s performance in the Olympics and Paralympics, the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports (MYAS) initiated the Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS) in 2014. This was revamped in 2018 to establish a technical support team for managing the TOPS athletes and providing holistic support. The scheme provides comprehensive support to identified athletes. It ensures that a “core group of athletes” have all the necessary personalised support in terms of foreign exposure, hiring of specific coaches, training and competition abroad. The Mission Olympic Cell is a dedicated body created to assist the athletes who are selected under the TOP Scheme.

Significantly, the TOP Scheme played a pivotal role in attaining success. The TOPS sponsored athletes gained relative success at the 2016 Rio Olympics and the 2018 Commonwealth Games. It additionally resulted in India’s best-ever Olympics and Paralympics performance in 2020, a Thomas Cup win after 73 years, and many such sporting achievements.

Khelo India Program

Khelo India Program for sports is another initiative that came under Prime Minister Modi’s leadership. This program aims to revive the sporting culture in India at the grassroots level by establishing a robust framework for all kinds of sports in the country and positioning India as a prominent sporting nation. To achieve this objective, the Khelo India Program has been segmented into 12 verticals, namely: State Level Khelo India Centres, Talent Search and Development, Annual Sports Competition, Physical Fitness of School Children, Sports for Peace and Development, and others.

More than 3000 athletes are being trained under Khelo India. These players are getting scholarships of more than 6 lakh rupees each per annum. Under this scheme, assistance worth about Rs 2.5 thousand crores has now been given to the athletes. It is important to note that 125 athletes of the Asian Games contingent are a find of Khelo India Campaign, of which more than 40 have won medals. Success stories of so many Khelo India athletes vindicate the right direction of the campaign.

Promoting Inclusivity and Diversity

Khelo India program also focuses on targeted areas such as Sports for Women, Promotion of Sports amongst people with disabilities, Promotion of Rural and Indigenous Tribal Games. These initiatives are designed to foster inclusivity and diversity in Indian sports. The recent proposal to introduce Para games under Khelo India is another positive step in this direction. This program strives to harness the transformative power of sports, promoting holistic youth development, community growth, and social integration. To carve out future talents, the Narendra Modi government has also created several Khelo India Kendras.

Investment and Budget Allocation

Prime Minister Modi’s commitment to promoting sports is evident through a significant increase in funding and targeted sports investments in recent years. The sports budget has been enhanced three-fold as compared to nine years ago. A clear indicator of this commitment is the allocation of ₹3062.60 crore to the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, the highest ever recorded in India’s history. In addition, the Sports Authority of India has seen a gradual increase in its budget allocation. Under the ‘Khelo India’ scheme, around 2,500 sportspersons are being provided ₹50,000 every month.

Development of Sports Infrastructure

Government of India is setting up 1,000 district centres under the ‘Khelo India’ scheme across the country. The creation of India’s first National Sports University in Manipur with an expenditure of ₹800 crore in another big step in this direction. Similarly, Major Dhyan Chand Sports University is also coming up in Uttar Pradesh for higher education in sports.

The Narendra Modi led NDA Government has also come out with the National Air Sports Policy, another important initiative to help grow our sports. This policy lays out the vision of making India as one of the top sporting nations by 2030, by providing a safe, affordable, accessible, and sustainable air sports ecosystem in India. Furthermore, Prime Minister Narendra Modi also launched the Fit India movement in 2019, which seeks to spread a fitness and sports culture throughout the nation. It motivates people to give fitness a high priority in their daily life.

Dedicated Efforts to Transform Indian Sports

The success of India at international tournaments stands as a testament to the rapid development of the sporting landscape in the country. Under Prime Minister Modi’s leadership since 2014, a series of transformative actions have been set into motion. The Modi government has played a pivotal role in driving this change, putting forth tremendous efforts not only to uplift the sporting culture but also to support athletes through their highs and lows. The government’s commitment is all-encompassing, ensuring that athletes receive comprehensive training, essential resources, technical expertise, international exposure, and equal opportunities, especially for talent from rural areas. These initiatives are underpinned by a commitment to maintaining transparency in the athlete selection process.

Prime Minister Modis Exceptional Connection with Athletes: A Leader Beyond Compare

Prime Minister Modi has distinguished himself as the most adept sports administrator in India’s history. Beyond implementing targeted policy initiatives and schemes, he has forged a unique personal connection with athletes, offering them unwavering encouragement and motivation. His commitment to Indian athletes is demonstrated through his personal interactions with them.

Recently, Prime Minister Modi engaged with and addressed the Indian athlete contingent that participated in the Asian Games. This event, held at New Delhi’s Major Dhyan Chand Stadium, aimed to applaud the athletes for their remarkable success at the Asian Games and inspire them for upcoming competitions. A similar gathering was organised for the Tokyo Olympics contingent, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi warmly welcomed India’s star athletes at his residence in New Delhi. In these interactions, Modi ji offered heartfelt words of encouragement, underlining his genuine commitment to the world of sports.

Prime Minister Modi’s personal connection with athletes goes beyond victories and losses. He offered solace to the Indian women’s hockey team following their loss in the Tokyo Olympics, providing them with reassurance during their moment of heartbreak. Similarly, when the Indian women’s cricket team missed the gold medal in the recent Commonwealth Games, PM Modi commended their outstanding performance and served as a wellspring of motivation for each player. These instances exemplify Prime Minister Modi’s unique ability to establish a personal connection with sportspersons, an achievement unparalleled by any other prime minister in modern India’s history. This makes him an exceptional figure in Indian sports administration.

To conclude, Prime Minister Modi’s unwavering commitment towards sports, coupled with determined policy initiatives and transparent governance is steadily ensuring a promising future for sports in India. It paves the path to establishing Bharat as the global sporting powerhouse in the upcoming years.

(Prakriti Kaushik has been a Research Associate with Youth Engagement Group of G20 India. Views in the article are her own)