Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Indian fan apathy to blame for Olympics, not Administration or Athletes

Do you know who Irfan Thodi is? Vikas Gowda? Joydeep Karmakar? Heena Sidhu? Ngangbam Chanu?

These are atheletes from India who made us Proud in Olmpics but we ignore them because they didn't return a medal. Irfan finished 10th in 20km walk. Vikas Gowda finished 8th in Discus throw. Krishan Poonia finished 7th in Discus throw. Joydeep Karmakar finished fourth in 50m rifle prone. Henna Sidhu finished 12th in 10m air pistol. Ngangham Chanu finished 7th in 48kg weightlifting.

Yes. They didn't win medals like 6 other Indians but because the public won't recognize the contribution of these athletes and will not give them a lakh (when bronze gets them 100 times that amount - Rs 1 Crore!), the apathy of a regular Indian guy is the main contributor to our poor Olympics performance. OK, when was the last time you stepped out for a hard run? or a competitive sport?

If i was made the Sports Minister or the Prime Minister and asked to solve the Olympics connendrum that we face, this will be my vision, goals and action plan

Vision: Healthy & Prosperous country. Through our health initiative, ensure that sports is a mainstream activity in an Indian's life

Goal: 10 Golds by 2028 Olympics. 25 Golds by 2040 Olympics. These are not far away. 2028 is 4 events away and 2040 is  three more from then.

Action Plan: Here is my top 10 actions

1. Starting this year, all school will make PT (Physical Training) a mandatory subject in school. Schools will have to spend as many hours in a week on PT as they do for Mathematics. Physical Training will be a 100 mark subject with 20 marks for drills and 80 marks for performance in 2 sports of choice.

2. Every school will have to mandatorily offer these 3 sports: Track & Field, Swimming and Cricket. In addition, they will have to offer at least 5 from these sports: Archery, Badminton, Cycling, Hockey, Gymnastics, Shooting, Table Tennis, Volleyball and Water Polo. Of the minimum 8 sports, schools are expected to have in-house facilities for at least 4 sports

3. Every Municipality will have to offer at least 5 of the above sports in their juristiction. Every MLA constituency will have to have facilities for at least 12 of the 2016 Olympic sports available for Public. Every MP constituency should have facilities for at least 20 of the 2016 Olympic sports available for Public. Every state should have facilities for ALL 2016 Olympic sports available for Public.

4. Twice a year, ALL students in the constituency have to participate in a District level competition. Every student has to enroll for atleast 2 sports and their performance will go towards their overall academic evaluation till Standard 9. Once a year, there should be a mandatory Schools competition across the state. This should be fixed for first week of October (9 day event starting 1st Saturday of October and ending on the 2nd Sunday of October).

5. National Games are a joke in India because they are not even conducted on a regular basis. National event will be once every 2 years and will be held between the first Saturday of March to the second Sunday of March.

6. Every Olympic sports council/association will have at least 5 International infrastructure tie-ups and at least 1 Academy in each of the 5 zones - North, East, West, South & Central. The Academy will be chartered to identify talent at School level and charter individual plan of actions for these athletes

7. Dismantle SAI. Re-create it from scratch. At least 90% of SAI budget should go towards new infrastructure, conducting competitions, reward prizes. Maintenance of existing or finished infrastucture will be done by the sport committees. No more than 10% to be spent on staff and their salary, maintenance and travel expenses

8. Remove quota systems in Universities and Public Sector Companies. Instead, the focus is towards ensuring every child has gone through a few sports. Instead of Quota systems, provide scholarships for students-athletes

9. Ministry of Sports should be a Cabinet Position and not a Minister of State position

10. Change comes from within. As long as India doesn't run, swim, jump, play - don't expect us to win awards. Government & Organizations can build the infrastructure; Schools can formulate your growing years, but it is up to us to ensure that we make Sports a part of our lives

What do you think? Will we change?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Budget day dreams ...

There is something about our budget that makes economists, stock market analysts, dealers, industrialists and even common man start day dreaming!
The fever catches as soon as people start breaking their New Year's resolutions, which is typically a fortnight or so into the year. Once, we are done with the festivities & the Republic day, the drumbeat starts to raise its voice and experts and sundry start predicting what the Finance minister will roll into the budget. This year is going to be an extra long journey as the FinMin decided to unveil the budget on March 16th instead of the usual end of February. All the better for media, as they fill time with fantasies about lower taxes, increasing limit of deductabiles or even increasing the various tax slabs. The media will line tons of eager housewives, retirees, 'young but struggling' and 'young and high-flying', public servants, private servants .... you get the picture ... Everyone and their uncle will ask the government for a narrowly defined favorable treatment.
So, let's get started. CNN IBN has already interviewed and made a few wishes/desires or 'feedback' as they call made known. First of many, i think ... Real estate thoughts, Power and Energy thoughts, International taxation issues, healthcare, bicycle manufacturers, Auto companies. Major media publications already have dedicated landing pages - Moneycontrol, Economic Times,
The worst of the lot - FirstPost asks "Budget 2012: Should you give a damn?" My friend, can you stop giving it a damn! Wait for a month and Pranab-da will introduce the budget and we can analyse it rather than day dream today ... What say?
PS: I wrote a blog post earlier related budgets. Differenet context but the data points are amusingly/sadly pretty similiar.