That India trails the top nations of the world in terms of sports planning, implementation and expenditure by miles goes without saying. Neighbouring powerhouse China gives a clearer picture.
The year China celebrated topping the medals tally at the Beijing Olympics in 2008, the Indian government initiated the Panchayat Yuva Krida Aur Khel Abhiyan (PYKKA) scheme.
Started with an outlay of Rs. 1500 crore over 10 years, this scheme came into effect after it was observed that "there is an immediate need to create a network of basic sports infrastructure throughout the country" and "to enable more people to participate in sports, thereby broadening our base for scouting of talent".
According to a historical review of the change of Chinese government's sports policy conducted by the Irish Institute of Chinese Studies recently, a similar initiative had been implemented by China under their 'Mass Sport' policy way back in 1949.
Lack of awareness
PYKKA nevertheless, is a much needed centrally-sponsored scheme and Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh have been the biggest beneficiaries so far. But an alarming statistic is the number of states who have stayed away from this scheme.
According to government data, a total of R137.78 crore has been granted till November 30 this year but states like Punjab, Haryana, Manipur, Tamil Nadu and Bengal have not availed of the main scheme of procuring and maintaining playfields. The figures were even more dismal in the first two years (2008-09 & 2009-10) when only seven states had availed of the full grant.
Former SAI athletics coach and Dronacharya, Kuntal Roy, feels there is a lack of awareness about PYKKA. "PYKKA has been in place for the last three years, but I haven't yet come across any junior athlete who has benefited from it," said Roy.
Archery Association of India (AAI) joint-secretary Rupesh Kar said not keeping the federation and state associations in the loop has prevented PYKKA from gaining prominence. "We don't get information whether any state-level archer goes to the PYKKA games," said Kar.
"The government should involve federations in these schemes since at the end of the day, the state associations pick teams for national games, not them," he said. Roy asks for a more scientific approach.
"PYKKA is a big project but it can reap dividends only if it's made performance oriented. We need people with vision so that there is more accountability. Otherwise, it will remain a programme that encourages to play but not to excel," he said.