Sports secretaries from a number of states on Wednesday endorsed the draft of India's much publicised new sports policy, giving something to cheer about for the under-fire sports ministry.
"The state secretaries by and large endorsed the draft sports policy," Rattan Prakash Watal, who attended the meeting in his capacity as director general of the Sports Authority of India (SAI), told IANS.
Sports Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar would welcome this development more than anyone else as he is under fire from the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) and the national sports federations for allegedly not consulting them before drawing up the draft policy.
The IOA and the federations boycotted a meeting called by the ministry to discuss the draft Aug 17 on the pretext that they did not get time to go through its text.
The policy was posted on the ministry's website July 26, which means that the IOA and federations had 22 days to study the draft. The federations had boycotted the meeting on verbal "instructions" from IOA.
Watal said that some of the state secretaries were in favour of transferring the subject of sports from the State List to the Concurrent List in the Seventh Schedule of the constitution.
"Some states were in favour of the change while some others brought letters from their chief ministers who are against its transfer," he said after the meeting held at the National Stadium.
This issue of transfer has been under consideration in parliament since the 12th Lok Sabha, in the form of a bill that aims at transferring the subject of sports from the State List to the Concurrent List.
"Consensus has been eluding this endeavour in the absence of a comprehensive and holistic approach to a national policy on sports. It is the intention of this Comprehensive Sports Policy to provide such a holistic and comprehensive approach," says the draft of the new sports policy.
"It is, therefore, proposed to pursue in parliament the need to shift the emphasis on sports from its present constitutional position where it is clubbed with 'entertainments' and 'amusements' to treating sports as a key instrument of youth development for accelerated and inclusive national development ..."
Watal said the participants felt this issue should be discussed elsewhere.
"It was discussed and agreed that the issue 'sports' being transferred to the Concurrent List should be taken up at a different forum, that is, the political forum. The issue is open," he said.
He said overall it was a "positive discussion".
The sports ministry is holding consultations with all the stakeholders and after the draft is revised following these consultations, a final draft will be submitted to cabinet for approval.
There is a round of consultations between the ministry and eminent sports personalities Tuesday.