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The great cash divide in Indian sport: From 3 crore to 10 lakh!

States like Haryana give bigger incentives to the gold medal winners while Punjab, Kerala, Jammu and Kashmir and West Bengal lag way behind.

sports Updated: Sep 10, 2018 14:43 IST
Saurabh Duggal
Saurabh Duggal
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
cash divide,Asian games,Odisha
India's Neeraj Chopra competes in the final of the men's javelin throw athletics event during the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta.(AFP)

It seems, some gold medals at the Asian Games are worth more than others if one goes by the cash awards being offered to athletes by their respective state governments.

Though athletes from across the country contributed to India’s highest-ever gold medal haul (15) at the Games, there is a massive disparity in the amount of cash incentives being given.

While Haryana is rewarding its gold medal winners with ~3 crore each, neighbours Punjab, in comparison, is doling out just ~26 lakh for each gold medal. Thus the total amount that Punjab will be awarding their 20 medal winners, including four with yellow hued ones, comes to just ~3 crore — which equals what Haryana will give to their gold medal winner like javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra or boxer Amit Panghal or wrestlers Bajrang Punia or Vinesh Phogat.

The difference in total medals bagged by the two neighbours is 30 percent, while the difference in the total cash awards by the two states comes to a whopping 1600 per cent.The inequality becomes starker when the ~10 lakh given by Bengal government to Swapna Barman, India’s first heptathlon champion at Asian Games, is compared to the ~3 crore doled out by Odisha government to sprinter Dutee Chand for her two silver medals.

Although the Odisha government pays ~40 lakh for gold medal, ~25 lakh for a silver and ~12.5 for a bronze, it has made an exception this time.

The four members of the silver-winning women’s hockey team from Odisha will get ~1 crore each while the two members of the bronze-winning men’s hockey team will get ~50 lakh each.The Haryana government offers a higher amount to medal winners than that given by the Union Sports Ministry, which gives ~30 lakh. It is another matter that the Sports Ministry also funds the national camps and foreign trips of all these athletes.

Haryana’s cash incentives for international medals have attracted athletes from other states to its fold. To stop this, the state government has amended its sports policy and now only those players, who are domicile of Haryana, are eligible for cash awards.

“Cash incentives are playing a major role in promoting sports in the state,” said Arjuna Awardee Bhim Singh, who was the first from the state to win Asian Games gold (in long jump at 1966 Bangkok Games).

Wrestler Uday Chand, independent India’s first individual world championships medal winner, said, “ If we want youth to pursue sports , then we have to show them there is decent lifestyle after success in sports.”

However, Punjab government has said that they might increase the prize money in future.

“We are working on new sports policy and it is likely to be released by end of this month. There will be increase in the cash awards for the international events, including Asian Games. For the Jakarata Asian Games, the medal winners will get the enhanced prize money,” says Punjab sports minister Rana Gurjit Singh Sodhi.

First Published: Sep 10, 2018 14:41 IST