The Union Sports Ministry may be spending crores of rupees on the Commonwealth Games but it continues to be oblivious to the needs of grassroot athletes who form the supply line for the future.
The government has suspended the Sports Authority of India's special scholarship scheme for up and coming athletes across the country without giving any specific reason and no one is sure whether it would be revived.
The government had started the scholarship scheme back in 1984 to recognise the performance of the young sportspersons’ achievements at the national and state level. The annual budget for the scheme, which was being executed from the National Institute of Sports (NIS), was around Rs 8 crore and a total of 9,000 sportspersons across the country were benefiting from it.
NIS Patiala executive Director L S Ranawat confirmed to Hindustan Times that the ministry has asked them to put the scholarships on hold as they were "reviewing" the scheme. "I don't have any more details about the reasons behind the move. But we may provide the financial assistance to female athletes later this year," he said.
But NIS sources don’t seem hopeful. "We were told that the scholarship for women will resume. But we have not received any official notification.”
Though most players have approached the government they don't feel optimistic. "We can't fight the government but can only urge them to reconsider the decision," said the father of a national champion.
With inputs from Abhijeet Kulkarni from Mumbai.