Asking Haryana’s athletes for one-third of their endorsement earnings is the cruellest cut

Sakshi Malik, Yogeshwar Dutt, Vijender Singh and Sardara Singh would have been affected by the directive that has now been put on hold by the Haryana CM 

analysis Updated: Jun 12, 2018 15:34 IST
Haryana,Manohar Khattar,Rio Olympics
Wrestler Sakshi Malik celebrates after winning the bronze in women's wrestling at the 2016 Rio Olympics. (PTI)

It is a blow to Haryana’s perception as a state that prided itself on its sporting pedigree. In a government notification, now put on hold, the Sports and Youth Affairs department of the Manohar Khattar government had said that athletes should donate one-third of the income that they earn from professional sports or commercial endorsements to the Haryana State Sports Council. In the notification, the government had asked that sportspersons deposit 33% of their income to the Council. This wasn’t all. According to the circular, sportspersons employed by the government had to seek extraordinary leave (without pay) during the period of participation in professional sports.

With the chief minister now putting the order on hold, better sense appears to have prevailed. Such a diktat is unheard of in any part the world. It was a dramatic reversal for a state that pioneered the “padak lao, pad pao” (Bring medal home, get a job) scheme in which career opportunities in the government sector were guaranteed to medal winners in the Olympics, Commonwealth Games, Asian Games and the National Games. The Haryana model of producing world-beaters, for which they created a robust sports infrastructure in rural areas, including development of mini stadiums in each gram panchayat, was cited as an example for others. Although the state accounts for just 2.1% of the country’s population, 29% of the Indian contingent at the Rio Olympic Games in 2016 came from Haryana. In the recent Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, 22 of the 66 medals that were collected by the Indian contingent came from Haryanvi athletes.

When wrestler Sakshi Malik grabbed a bronze at Rio, she ensured that an athlete from the state had finished on the Olympic podium for the third time on the trot. At that time, she was toasted as Haryana’s daughter. With the order, Ms Malik – employed with the government in Rohtak – would have faced the prospect of parting with one-third of her endorsement earnings. She wouldn’t have been alone, popular sportspersons employed with the Haryana Police — wrestler Yogeshwar Dutt, Olympic medal winner boxer Vijender Singh and former hockey captain Sardara Singh— would also have been affected. Hurting the morale of top athletes, who toil to reach sporting glory, has no justification. It is just as well that the Khattar government has had a rethink on the order.

aasheesh.sharma@hindustantimes.com

@Aasheesh74

First Published: Jun 12, 2018 13:11 IST